A win’s a win is the most positive thing to say about this FA Cup tie against a Swans’ side making their first ever visit to the Cygnet Health Care Stadium. Despite the two division gap, the Isthmian League outfit often looked the better side as they regularly tested the Town backline with some cohesive attacking play, a feature sadly lacking from the home side. When all is said and done though, it is the Peacocks who are £5625 better off and in the hat for the final qualifying round courtesy of Lloyd James’ free kick at the end of the first half.
Changes were needed from the Bath City game with Zac Smith replacing Joe Guest who was not fit while Dave Sims-Burgess and Nat Jarvis took over from Nick McCootie and Ross Stearn up top. With the Peacocks having upset the apple cart in recent years with cup wins over higher-ranked sides, the boot was on the other foot for this tie and the visitors began confidently as they retained possession well. Jordan Adeyemi recorded the first attempt, sending a tame shot wide of the target with Smith responding moments later for the hosts with a blast high over the top.
The opening corner of the game after 11 minutes nearly produced a breakthrough, Jay Foulston delivering to the far post where Jake Wannell’s header hit the upright, with the follow-up from Nick Grimes being well blocked and then a further effort from James also being charged down. The ball was recycled out to Ollie Chamberlain on the right whose cross to the near post was poked wide by Smith. The brief purple patch continued when a James free kick was punched clear by Liam Allen, Chamberlain returned the ball forward and Wannell drilled a half volley well over the bar.
Walton & Hersham though were impressing with their neat passing football and carved out an opening when Alex Kelly found Eddie Simon who controlled before curling an effort over the top from the right side of the box. Several attacks forced the Town defence into hasty action to clear their lines as the Swans looked menacing while the Peacocks were restricted to long range efforts from Chamberlain and Foulston which both missed the target. Sims-Burgess had a shot from a tight angle blocked before Simon was pulled down just outside the area, but Jack Bycroft safely held Harry Mills’ free kick.
A headed chance at either end was then missed as the interval approached. Jarvis ran on to a James’ free kick but planted his header over both Allen and the bar before Walton skipper Joe Hicks got on the end of Mills’ corner but got too much on his effort and it flew over. When Foulston’s strike was deflected for a corner which came to nothing, that appeared that for the first 45. However the one minute of stoppage time announced seemed to stretch a little and enough for Smith to be felled on the edge of the box. James stepped up to drill the free kick past the wall and although Allen got his hand to the shot, he was unable to prevent it from venturing over the line, signalling the midfield man’s first goal for the Peacocks.
Attacking the Town end, the hosts started off with some intent. Joe Budd’s cross was just too far for Jarvis to connect with, the last action for the Town striker who was replaced by McCootie. Budd beat two men on the edge of the area, but his shot was a routine hold for Allen while Chamberlain fired another effort wide. Stearn appeared in place of Sims-Burgess before it was the visitor’s turn to carve out some openings. Simon released Adeyemi whose pace took him clear but Bycroft advanced to block with his leg, Kelly prodded the wrong side of the post and Dominic Ogun rifled over from distance before Bycroft again had to be on his toes, punching clear off the line after a mammoth long throw from Joe Pratley-Jones.
Town had the opportunity to calm the nerves after 65 minutes when Smith’s pass put McCootie in space on the left but his attempt across Allen struck the base of the far post. The final touch continued to elude the Peacocks, Smith steering a Stearn cross wide and Chamberlain finding Stearn whose drive was parried down by Allen and gathered. Walton & Hersham meanwhile stuck to their favoured game, playing out from the back, and attempting to pass down the pitch. A corner from Taurean Roberts was played back across the area by Pratley-Jones to Roberts who weaved one way, then the other to fire in a shot which Bycroft parried and McCootie booted clear.
The final exchanges which included four minutes of stoppage time were all about Town keeping their lead and not making any silly errors. This was achieved and apart from a run from Josh Millo down the left ending with a strike which travelled narrowly over the angle, the Peacocks managed to see the game out without too many worries to progress to the next round. The Swans will probably feel hard done by as they more than matched a Town side who are still not functioning as effectively as they could in the final third. The magnificent Town defence had done their job again though, and with only six goals against in 12 competitive matches, Taunton are the most senior team in English football not to have conceded more than one goal in any game this season 👍
Taunton: Jack Bycroft, Joe Budd, Jay Foulston, Nick Grimes (captain), Dan Ball, Jake Wannell, Ollie Chamberlain, Lloyd James, Nat Jarvis (Nick McCootie 53), Zac Smith (Lee Lucas 88), Dave Sims-Burgess (Ross Stearn 56). Unused subs: Joe Guest, Harry Warwick, Ross Staley, Lloyd Irish
Walton & Hersham: Liam Allen, Harry Mills (Josh Millo 45), Joe Pratley-Jones, Alex Kelly, Charlie Nicholas (Ollie Twum 88), Joe Hicks (captain), Dominic Ogun, Taurean Roberts, Jordan Adeyemi, Eddie Simon, Arsen Ujkaj (Max Blackmore 70). Unused subs: Jude Molloy, Flynn Bolton, Maliq Morris, Harvey Sellers
Referee: Lewis Sandoe (Christchurch)
Referee’s Assistant 1: Said Ouchene (Paulton)
Referee’s Assistant 2: Ollie Taylor (Keynsham)
“I thought we were a little bit sloppy and slow at times but I’d like to give them a bit of credit, they’re a good side……” watch Rob Dray’s Match Reaction on Peacocks TV HERE
Match highlights can be seen on Peacocks TV HERE
Mind In Somerset MOM
Jake Wannell receives the Taunton Town Man Of The Match award from representatives of Match Sponsors Blackbrook Pharmacy