The Peacocks maintained their 100% pre-season record with a comfortable win in their first home friendly. The levels were raised from the first two games although the hosts only had a single goal to show for it at the break thanks to a sterling performance from Rovers’ keeper George Burton but another strike in the second half made it a truer reflection of proceedings.
As in the first two warm-up matches, Town began with a strong side which were soon on the front foot. Zac Smith’s flicked header found Dylan Morgan whose strike was blocked by the legs of Burton after just six minutes before the Willand custodian held a free kick from Ross Stearn low down at his post. Lee Lucas then put Smith clear down the channel, but his chipped effort provided another claim for Burton who continued to frustrate the Peacocks when he blocked another shot from Smith from inside the box.
Willand glimpsed their first opening on the 20 minute mark when former Peacock Dougie Camilo found space in the area, only to be denied by a superb challenge by Austen Booth, however the momentum remained towards the Rovers’ goal as Taunton displayed some crisp passing football. Dave Sims-Burgess was foiled twice by Burton from Morgan crosses while Morgan himself arrowed a shot wide of the target. The pressure paid off after 31 minutes when Town deservedly grabbed the lead. A wonderful ball down the right reached Ollie Chamberlain, his cross was met by Sims-Burgess and when Burton saved and seemed to have the ball a defender intervened, allowing Stearn to collect and rifle home via the underside of the crossbar.
After an interlude for an unfriendly melee, Town came close again when Morgan steered a Smith cross past the post and Cam Evans headed wide from a Lloyd James corner. Their lead remained intact….just… as half time approached when Town keeper Dan Lavercombe, with little to do until then, tipped a Josh Baker shot onto his bar and the danger was eventually cleared.
Burton was again called into action early in the second half when he held Lucas’ low strike before Willand posted a couple of efforts, Ryan Guppy shooting wide before seeing his drive held by Lavercombe. A batch of substitutions then led to a second goal for the Peacocks after 58 minutes, trialist Aze Akinbobola seizing on some indecisive defending to surge past Burton and convert into an empty net.
Another trio of replacements appeared ten minutes after the first round of subs, but Town kept up their tempo, with the new faces looking comfortable on the ball and eager to keep the pressure applied. Good work from trialist Marcus Day set up fellow hopeful Callum Dolman whose effort was blocked before local boy Phil Mendonca enthused the crowd with some skills, a good run ending with a shot over while a cheeky dummy allowed him to advance, only for that man Burton to remain defiant and make the block, his efforts during the night preventing a more handsome victory for the hosts.
Taunton: Dan Lavercombe, Nick Grimes (captain), Ollie Chamberlain (Marcus Day 66), Lloyd James (Iestyn Williams 66), Ross Stearn (Jack Evans 56), Austen Booth, Zac Smith (Rabby Tabu 66), Cameron Evans, Dave Sims-Burgess (Phil Mendonca 56), Dylan Morgan (Callum Dolman 56), Lee Lucas (Aze Akinbobola 56). Unused sub: Lloyd Irish
Willand: George Burton (captain), Adam Poole (Adam Kelly 45), Josh Searle (Orlando Anker 45), Nick Milton, Kieran Bailey, Ryan Guppy, Dougie Camilo (Nathan Burn 63), Ash Hewitt, Josh Baker (Charlie Wright 45), Ryan Keates (Lewis Hill 45), Ollie Bray (Alex Parsons 66)
Referee: Matt Eva (North Petherton)
Referee’s Assistant 1: Jordan Lee (Taunton)
Referee’s Assistant 2: Brian Lee (Taunton)
” We’re nowhere near finished but it’s a lot lot better, really really pleased tonight……..” watch the match reaction of Rob Dray on Peacocks TV HERE
No match highlights are available