Full Time 1-1. Poole Town win 3-4 on penalties
After the disappointment of just missing out on the championship on Saturday, Taunton’s season was cruelly ended on Wednesday night as they tasted play-off defeat for the fourth time in five seasons, being edged out on penalties after a gripping tussle with Poole Town.
The evening got off to a bad start for the Peacocks, right-back Pierce Mitchell pulling up in the warm-up and having to be replaced in the starting line-up by Keith Emmerson, young Noah Coppin being promoted to the bench.
Not surprisingly Poole were fastest out of the blocks and had the first clear chance when Marvin Brooks set up James Constable with a neat flick, but the experienced striker pulled his shot just wide of Lloyd Irish’s near post. Taunton’s first chance came in the tenth minute when Matt Wright found Matt Buse at the far post with a deft chip, but the midfielder could not keep his effort below the crossbar. The attack seemed to settle the home side, and they were inches away from taking the lead shortly afterwards when Ben Adelsbury lashed a fierce shot just over the bar following a short corner.
On a rapid Poole counter thrust Sam Griffin just missed the target. But in keeping with the end to end nature of a pulsating first half, Taunton were next to threaten, Lewis Hall threading an acute pass down the left flank allowing Dan Sullivan to test Luke Cairney with a curling effort. It was Poole who made the break-through though just before the break, Jack Dickson outstripping Hall down the right and drilling a powerful low shot just inside the near post.
Poole’s lead lasted only four minutes of the second half, Ryan Brett ripping a shot through a forest of legs and under Cairney from the edge of the box following a corner, and only a smart save by the keeper prevented Hall giving Taunton the lead just a minute later.
The equaliser triggered a spell of home domination though Poole had one excellent chance on the break when Constable got behind the back line but pushed his lob wide of the far post. The visitors also almost snatched victory in injury-time, substitute Adam Grange wriggling clear down the right to set up Griffin but somehow Adelsbury and Irish together managed to scramble the ball off the line.
The first half of extra-time saw plenty of huff and puff, but no clear chances. Attacking their massed ranks of fans on the Innovation Town End terrace, Taunton almost took the lead straight after the turnaround, Andrew Neal just failing to convert after Sullivan had hooked back a long clearance.
Poole’s final substitute Tyrique Clarke had a speculative shot easily pouched by Irish whilst Cairney was just as comfortable with a curling Brett free-kick as tired limbs limped unwillingly towards the dreaded penalty shoot-out.
The first five penalties were converted by Corby Moore, Dickson and Brooks for Poole, and Taunton’s Sullivan and Neal. Home centre-back Ed Palmer crashed the sixth effort against the crossbar to hand Poole the initiative, an advantage that was reinforced when Jake Smeeton stroked home their fourth kick. That piled all the pressure on to Taunton substitute Ollie Chamberlain who had to score keep the tie alive. The midfielder was equal to the task and when goalkeeper Cairney surprisingly took what should have been Poole’s winning kick, and planted it against the crossbar, home celebration was tumultuous.
The euphoria though subsided with the realisation that Taunton still had to score the last of the regulation ten penalties to prolong the contest into sudden death. The thankless task fell to Shane White. His penalty became the third of the contest to come back off the crossbar sending Poole Town through to the final against Metropolitan Police and leaving Taunton to reflect on what might have been after a very impressive first season at Step Three.
Match: Taunton Town v Poole Town
Date: May 1, 2019
Competition: Evo Stik League | Play-Off Semi-Final
Venue: Viridor Stadium
Kick Off: 7.45.pm
Match Sponsors: Terence Ball Kitchens, Invest Southwest, Intersport Tony Pryce, Berrys Coaches, Innovation by Design, Viridor, Joma UK.
Taunton: Lloyd Irish, Keith Emmerson (Ollie Chamberlain 62), Lewis Hall, Ben Adelsbury, Ed Palmer, Matt Buse, Shane White, Ryan Brett, Matt Wright (captain) (Craig Veal 117), Dan Sullivan, Andrew Neal. Unused subs: Josh Nelmes, Luke Manley , Noah Coppin
Poole: Luke Cairney, Jack Dickson, Jake Smeeton, Will Spetch, Jamie Whisken (captain), Josh Leslie-Smith, Sam Griffin (Tyrique Clarke 105), Corby Moore, James Constable (Sam House 66), Marvin Brooks, Jez Belford (Adam Grange 85). Unused subs: Tom Hanfrey, James Boote
Referee: Ross Martin (Bristol)
Referee’s Assistant 1: Graham Pearce (Melksham)
Referee’s Assistant 2: Kulwant Mann (Bath)
Colin Andrews | Ashley Harris