A new era for the Peacocks began with a solid point on their National League debut. Town will look back though and think what might have been had they taken advantage of several decent opportunities during the first half.
Fielding four new faces in the shape of goalkeeper Jack Bycroft, centre half Dan Ball and a strikeforce of Nick McCootie and Dave Sims-Burgess, the hosts took some time to acclimatise to their new footballing environment and it was the London visitors who began the sharper, Antony Papadopolous posting the first effort when he made ground across the edge of the box to direct a scuffed shot to Bycroft whose loan from Southampton had only been processed the day before. Welling were quicker to the ball early doors and outmuscled Town off the ball at times but despite their ascendancy they had little change from the home defence.
The Peacocks gradually began to settle in front of the 800 plus crowd. Lloyd James’ flighted ball in from the left just missed the touch of McCootie and a lovely passage of play down the right merited better than Ollie Chamberlain’s cross which picked out no-one. The first real opportunity arrived after 28 minutes when Tyrique Hyde hauled down McCootie just outside the area. Jay Foulston’s strike from the set piece though was curled over.
The first corner of the game went the way of the Wings just past the half hour, a short routine ending with Papadopolous’ cross going out before a moment of danger passed when Stefan Payne’s flick put Ashley Nzala through, but Bycroft was out quickly to boot clear.
A purple patch of five minutes then produced three openings which could and probably should have put the Peacocks out of sight by the break. McCootie got a touch on a Nick Grimes free kick which fell to Jake Wannell free at the back post, but the centre half arrowed his shot over the top. James’ pass then released McCootie who rifled narrowly over from 18 yards as the defender closed in before the best chance of the bunch came four minutes before the interval, McCootie getting past the defender on the left to lay the ball across the face, Sims-Burgess slotted goalwards, only for Welling’s loan keeper from Watford Myles Roberts to make a strong save with his legs. The home side kept up the pressure until the break and hoped they had won a penalty when Joe Budd’s misdirected shot fell to Foulston who was brought down. The referee quickly overturned his initial decision though with the assistant’s flag already raised for offside.
After another claim for a spot kick was waved away when McCootie went down, the home side withstood some early pressure from the visitors when play resumed. Clear opportunities though remained elusive. A yellow card for Rob Howard after his lunge on Foulston produced a free kick for James to the near post which won Town’s first corner of the contest. Roberts was equal to the flag kick as he clutched it on his line. As play started to swing from end to end, a slip in defence gave Nzala a sniff but James made a fine tackle to prevent any damage and Medy Elito saw his effort blocked for a corner while Chamberlain’s shot for Taunton was held by Roberts who was then grateful to see McCootie glance his header wide after Chamberlain had shown a lovely touch to make space for a cross.
Town made their first switch soon after, with McCootie giving way to Harry Warwick, fresh from scoring six goals during pre-season. At this stage it was still anyone’s game but as the minutes ticked by it became increasingly apparent that defences appeared likely to reign supreme on the day in spite of both sides’ attacking intent. Chamberlain’s effort from an angle lacked the venom to test Roberts while Medito fired well wide, and Joe Guest blocked a Palace Francis shot. After Jared Lewington had replaced Sims-Burgess, Hyde gained possession to curl a shot wide from just outside the box as the visitors turned the screw a notch in the final ten minutes. Budd was substituted by Lee Lucas, marking a welcome return to action following his long lay-off since October, as the hosts were forced to dig in but despite this, as during the whole game, Bycroft did not have a save of note to make. Wannell conceded a free kick just outside the box, but Medito’s attempt hit the wall, then a chipped cross from Amadon Kassarate reached Hyde in space on the far post but he failed to get a shot away.
Two late flurries from the Peacocks during four minutes of stoppage time were unable to snatch a winner. Lewington got free down the left and tried to pick out Lucas at the far post, but the midfield man swiped at the cross without success, then after Lewington had won a corner, Foulston’s delivery was flicked beyond the post by Wannell. So, the Peacocks are up and running at Step 2 and they can be satisfied with a well-deserved point in their opener.
Taunton: Jack Bycroft, Joe Budd (Lee Lucas 79), Jay Foulston, Nick Grimes (captain), Dan Ball, Jake Wannell, Ollie Chamberlain, Lloyd James, Nick McCootie (Harry Warwick 64), Joe Guest, Dave Sims-Burgess (Jared Lewington 77). Unused subs: Will Tunnicliff, Lloyd Irish
Welling: Myles Roberts, Rob Howard, Chi Ezennolim, Taylor Curran (Manny Parry 45), Taofiq Olomowewe, Ashley Nzala (Amadon Kassarate 71), Tyrique Hyde, Antony Papadopolous (Palace Francis 52), Medy Elito, Stefan Payne, James Dunne (captain). Unused subs: Taylor Mahoney, Prince Adegoke
Referee: Ross Martin (Weston-super-Mare)
Referee’s Assistant 1: Steven Swan (Truro)
Referee’s Assistant 2: James Long (Truro)
“All in all a good day, we got our point, we’re off the mark…..” watch Rob Dray’s Match Reaction on Peacocks TV HERE
Match highlights can be seen on on Peacocks TV HERE