There was a distinct touch of déjà vu as Weymouth secured a vital victory to conclude the Peacocks’ home campaign in the National League South. A week earlier relegation-haunted Hungerford had travelled west aware that nothing less than a win would suffice in their quest to escape the drop and after scoring twice inside the opening ten minutes they went on to record a 3-0 success. The Terras were in the same boat as they arrived at the Cygnet Health Care Stadium, knowing three points were non-negotiable but again boosted by two goals inside the first quarter they did the business against a drained Town side.
Keeper Jack Bycroft returned in place of Lloyd Irish after missing the Worthing game, the only change which was hardly a shock given the playing resources currently available. After Dylan Morgan had seen an early ball into the box cleared, the visitors countered to grab an early lead after six minutes. Keelan O’Connell released Bradley Ash down the right and his pacy run took him inside the box where his initial attempt to clip past Bycroft was foiled but the ball ran loose for Akheem Rose to slot home.
Tom Blair fired a curling shot wide from just outside the area as Weymouth continued their busy start before Lee Lucas posted the first effort for the hosts, his 25 yard strike taking a deflection to bounce awkwardly for Terras’ keeper Gerard Benfield to collect. An opening for either side then kept the crowd on their toes, the 1397 in attendance being the highest League gate of the season at the Cygnet. Some sloppy Town play, unfortunately too common in an error-strewn half, allowed Tom Bearwish to set Ash clear but his strike was wide while Jake Wannell’s long diagonal pass reached Cameron Evans on the right and after moving inside, his shot wasn’t too far over the bar.
Teddy Howe rifled another shot wide for Weymouth who then doubled their tally after 20 minutes, a Terras’ clearance ricocheting nicely for Ash who was able to race clear into the area and slot into the corner past Bycroft. Town set about trying to repair the damage, Zac Smith volleying narrowly wide after the ball had fallen loose following a Lloyd James free kick before another James set piece from the right got the home side back into it after 24 minutes, a free kick cleared as far as Morgan 20 yards out and he chested down to hit a cracking volley which bounced beyond the dive of Benfield.
Further unforced mistakes nearly cost the Peacocks dear as the mental as well as physical effect of 26 games in less than 13 weeks was evidently taking its toll. Bycroft missed an Evans’ back pass but managed to recover to foil Ash while an attempted back header fell into no man’s land with the ball eventually scrambled clear. A tame low shot from Rose proved a routine stop for Bycroft before the final phase of the first half saw the Peacocks provide some hope for the second. Morgan’s cross reached the opposite flank where Smith’s shot was headed clear by Brendan Wilson while Ross Stearn was so close to bringing the sides level three minutes before the break, an acrobatic volley from a Dave Sims-Burgess cross flying inches over the top.
Into the second half but Town were unable to produce a repeat of their comeback which had seen them beat play-off hopefuls Worthing three days earlier as they found it difficult to build up any tempo and it was the visitors who enjoyed what opportunities there were in a lower key 45 minutes. Blair fired a free kick over while O’Connell also missed the target with a volley inside the first ten minutes before the Peacocks introduced Ollie Chamberlain in place of Lucas. The hosts threatened briefly when a James corner fell to Morgan who skewed an effort wide, but Benfield had the minimum to do as his side pressed for a third goal to ease the nerves. Max Hemmings moved forward to fire over and Bearwish suffered a similar outcome moments later with another shot before Weymouth dissected the Town defence to add a third after 73 minutes, Blair sliding the ball across goal after bursting into the box from the left and Bearwish could hardly miss as he tucked home into an empty net.
Although the tank was nearly empty, the Peacocks made one last push as the game entered the final minutes. A quick throw-in found Sims-Burgess whose shot was blocked for a corner while a penalty shout after Chamberlain surged onto a Wannell crossfield pass was ignored. Morgan sliced another attempt wide, but it wasn’t to be as the Terras reversed the scoreline from the Boxing Day encounter in Dorset. The visitors now prepare for a crunch final day at Dover although results elsewhere may negate any positive outcome in Kent whilst Town will summon up one last effort to finish their debut National League season with a win at play-off participants Chelmsford City.
Taunton: Jack Bycroft, Dan Ball, Jake Wannell, Llody James (captain), Joe Guest, Ross Stearn, Zac Smith, Cameron Evans, Dave Sims-Burgess, Dylan Morgan, Lee Lucas (Ollie Chamberlain 58). Unused subs: Nat Jarvis, Lloyd Irish
Weymouth: Jez Benfield, Teddy Howe, Brendan Wilson, Nathan Carlyle, Keelan O’Connell, David Sesay, Ahkeem Rose (Harvey Slade 90+4), Tom Bearwish (captain), Bradley Ash, Max Hemmings, Tom Blair. Unused subs: Xander McBurnie, Harry Kyprianou, Archie Proctor (Frankie Monk 90+6)
Referee: Phillip Eddie (Plymouth)
Referee’s Assistant 1: Ryan Saward (Bristol)
Referee’s Assistant 2: Callum Waller (Plymouth)
” We were very generous in our defending to say the least in the first half……” watch Rob Dray’s Match Reaction on Peacocks TV HERE which also includes an interview with professional gamer Zealand who was a special guest at the game, having adopted Taunton Town FC as his team to manage in Football Manager 23
Match Highlights can be seen on Peacocks TV HERE
Match Photos from Club Photographer Debbie Gould can be viewed HERE
Mind In Somerset MOM
Dylan Morgan receives the Taunton Town Man Of The Match award from Vice-Chairman Brian Pollard