The Peacocks reached the Quarter Final of the Southern League Cup for only the second time in their history with victory at the Optima Stadium. Three previous visits this season had seen Town finish beaten on each occasion, but they finally turned the tables in a tie of few clear-cut chances thanks to a second half winner from skipper Nick Grimes.
Four changes were made to the Peacocks’ team from the weekend meeting with Poole including the return of goalkeeper Lloyd Irish for his first game since the beginning of September. Early exchanges proved uneventful, with each side offering one attempt each. Jordan Bastin’s free kick was headed over by Seagulls’ captain Kieran Thomas while Ioan Richards directed a header the wrong side of the post from a Jay Foulston corner. Joe Guest then lifted a shot wide from the edge of the box before Irish was called into action for one of the few occasions on the night when he held Jay Murray’s strike low down at his post after a cross-shot from Thomas had deflected to him.
Opportunities remained limited until the visitors went ahead after 36 minutes when Foulston’s deep free kick from the left was nodded down by Grimes, and Jared Lewington swept home past Luke Purnell from six yards out. The Peacocks fans elation was short-lived however as Weston equalised just two minutes later. A tussle outside the box saw the ball break to Prince Henry who sidestepped a defender to stride forward and slot past Irish for a well-taken goal.
Henry then came very close to doubling his tally just before the break as the hosts ended the half with a flourish. Jason Pope’s pass forward cleared to Henry whose 20 yard shot took a deflection and looked in until Irish dived to turn aside. A Lucas Vowles pass was then met by Pope, but Grimes was in the right place to block on the line before the Peacocks posted the last effort of the half when another Richards’ header from Foulston’s free kick flew straight to Purnell who caught cleanly.
Conditions became wetter for the second half with rain starting to fall but Town stuck to their task and kept Purnell busy without overstretching him. Peacocks’ workhorse Guest who was rightly named Man of the Match nudged a ball through to Lewington whose effort was blocked off by Thomas and rolled harmlessly to Purnell while Toby Holmes saw another shot deflect off an opponent. That signified Holmes’ last contribution of the evening as he made way for Ross Stearn who was soon in the thick of the action. Joe Budd’s shot from just outside the box proved a routine save for Purnell who had slightly more problems with a Lewington strike which he failed to hold, Nathaniel Williams booting away before Zac Smith could capitalise.
Grimes had a goal disallowed and an obvious shirt pull on Lewington was missed as Town kept probing before Weston threatened when Nick McCootie turned to surge away down the right, only to see his cross cut out. Town were still shading proceedings and might have done better when Stearn made a break down the middle but with Ollie Chamberlain completely free on his right he opted for a shot which was blasted over. That was soon forgotten when Town grabbed what proved to be the winner on 71 minutes. Stearn’s cross from the right byeline bypassed the challenge of Lewington and Will Turner to reach Grimes who tucked home into the bottom corner of the open net.
At this stage Town were mindful of their FA Trophy defeat when they surrendered a 2-1 lead, but Weston rarely looked like they would pull this one out the bag. Two successive corners came to nothing while Dayle Grubb’s shot proved easy pickings for Irish while at the other end Foulston fired a free kick off the wall and a late break from Chamberlain saw him lash a strike narrowly wide as the Peacocks saw the tie out to extend their unbeaten run to three games.
Taunton: Lloyd Irish, Joe Budd, Jay Foulston, Nick Grimes (captain), Jake Wannell, Ollie Chamberlain, Toby Holmes (Ross Stearn 55) , Joe Guest, Zac Smith (Jack Veale 72), Jared Lewington, Ioan Richards. Unused subs: Gethyn Hill, Conor Hartley, Will Buse
Weston: Luke Purnell, Kieran Thomas (captain), Nathaniel Williams (Scott Laird 82), Jacob Cane, Will Turner, Jason Pope, Jay Murray, James Dodd, Prince Henry, Lucas Vowles (Dayle Grubb 82), Jordan Bastin (Nick McCootie 57). Unused subs: Lloyd Humphries, Sam Avery
Referee: Andrew Sheppard (Gloucester)
Referee’s Assistant 1: Kristian Gould (Weston-super-Mare)
Referee’s Assistant 2: Daniel Bugg (Bristol)
“I thought we were really good value, I thought we worked really hard for our first goal…” watch Rob Dray’s Match Reaction on Peacocks TV HERE
Match highlights can be seen on Peacocks TV HERE
Match photos from club photographers Ashley Harris and Darren Harris can be seen HERE
Albert Goodman MOM
Joe Guest receives the Taunton Town Man Of The Match award from Club Life Member Marina Needs