A gritty performance full of character steered the Peacocks to a vital victory and their first in five National League games. A tight game was always on the cards based on the team’s first meeting back on the opening day of the season which resulted in a goalless draw, and so it proved in the London borough of Bexley, only this time Town went one better to register a fully deserved victory and leave the hosts without a home win since beating Tonbridge Angels on New Year’s Day.
The Peacocks showed three changes from the weekend disappointment against Hemel Hempstead including the absence of injured centre half Jake Wannell and the amended Town side showed no signs of travel rustiness following the 180 mile or so journey as they made a positive start, an early free kick from Lloyd James taking a slight deflection to land in the gloves of Wings’ keeper Myles Roberts while another set piece from the right saw Jay Foulston’s strike zip narrowly past the far post.
Welling posed little threat during the first half but did generate one opening, a break from Sadik Balarabe finding Stefan Payne who in turn set up Ade Azeez whose effort was blocked by the Town defence, solid and steadfast all evening. The visitors on the other hand were gaining the upper hand playing down the slope and Roberts was tested as he held Cameron Evans’ shot from the edge of the box. The first Town corner after 21 minutes ended with Nick Grimes’ header caught by Roberts and another Evans strike deflected off Kodi Lyons-Foster and found the safety of Roberts’ arms.
Lyons-Foster header from a corner was bread and butter for Jack Bycroft before the Peacocks ended the half strongly, winning a succession of corners as they pegged Welling back. Foulston had a strike deflect for one such example, then Ollie Chamberlain lost his footing as he tried to connect with Foulston’s ball back in while a James 20 yarder flew wide and Joe Guest just failed to get on the end of a James ball in from the right, allowing Roberts to claim.
So far so good at the break, with the Peacocks being the only side who looked like scoring in 45 minutes of limited opportunities. As is often the norm though, the second half can take on a different hue, the home side gradually awakening from their lethargy to apply some pressure, with an early breakaway being ended by James who collected a caution for bringing down Amadou Kassarate. Zac Smith tried his luck for Town with a strike from 30 yards which Roberts was equal to before the visitors introduced Nick McCootie in place of Dylan Morgan and the Town sub got involved quickly, running on to a James ball over the top but Roberts was out quickly to clear. Another opening evaporated when Grimes fed Chamberlain whose cross was too close to Roberts rather than his gap at the near post.
The hosts went on to enjoy their best spell midway through the second period as they started to knock on the door. Aaron Barnes placed a header wide from Rob Howard’s cross while Bycroft stood firm to block Christie Pattisson’s attempt. Town’s clearest chance then arrived, Guest’s long pass reaching Evans out wide on the right and his low cross was perfect for Smith, however Roberts did well to deny him.
Hearts were in mouths with twenty minutes to go when Bycroft advanced out his goal and missed his clearance, taking out Azeez in the process but thankfully a yellow card sufficed, the Town keeper’s worth then becoming evident when he turned wide Fraser Alexander’s volley after the Welling sub had chested down inside the box.
Lee Lucas replaced James with just under a quarter of an hour to go as both sides pressed for an all-important breakthrough. Guest’s volley from distance was safely caught by Roberts, with substitute and normal penalty taker Ross Stearn seemingly about to make an appearance. However he sat back down on the bench and as fate would have it his side were awarded a spot kick moments later. Nat Jarvis was hauled down as he moved in from the right and the referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot. Smith stepped up to assume the duties but saw his strike parried by Roberts going to his right, the home cheers immediately being replaced by away celebrations from the small band of Town fans in the far corner of the stadium as Smith guided the loose ball over Roberts for a 1-0 lead with eight minutes remaining.
Stearn did emerge for the final throes of the contest and unleashed a fierce strike which took a glance off the outside of the post as it whistled wide as four minutes of stoppage time began. That timespan increased due to an unfortunate injury to Foulston who badly turned his ankle after an opponent fell on it, eventually requiring him to be stretchered off. Speedy recovery Jay 🤞
That incident proved the only real negative aspect of the evening (for Town supporters at least), with the committed team in yellow working hard to compensate for being a man down to preserve their advantage until the whistle brought things to a conclusion. Another long day and night but trips like these are all the more sweeter when three points return home. Town will undoubtedly be wanting more of the same in Essex this coming weekend to continue their ascent away from the bottom four.
Taunton: Jack Bycroft, Jay Foulston, Nick Grimes (captain), Dan Ball, Ollie Chamberlain, Lloyd James (Lee Lucas 75), Nat Jarvis (Ross Stearn 82), Joe Guest, Zac Smith, Cameron Evans, Dylan Morgan (Nick McCootie 58). Unused subs: Dave Sims-Burgess, Lloyd Irish
Welling: Myles Roberts, Rob Howard, Chi Ezennolim, Kodi Lyons-Foster, Ade Azeez, Stefan Payne, Amadou Kassarate, James Dunne (captain), Jamie Sendles-White, Christie Pattisson (Cameron Andrews 79), Sadik Balarabe (Aaron Barnes 19)(George Alexander 72). Unused subs: Manny Parry, Fraser Barnsley
Referee: Michael Robertson-Tant (Colchester)
Referee’s Assistant 1: Richard Joss (Margate)
Referee’s Assistant 2: Steven Goldup (Maidstone)
” My favourite type of game, horrible, ugly, fully committed, energised 1-0 away win, I’m really proud of them……” watch Rob Dray’s Match Reaction on Peacocks TV HERE
Match Highlights can be seen courtesy of Welling United FC HERE
Match photos from Club Photographer Debbie Gould can be viewed HERE
Mind In Somerset MOM
Zac Smith receives the Taunton Town Man Of The Match award from team captain Nick Grimes