Featuring in their fourth Premier Cup final in just six seasons, the Peacocks were unable to extend their recent fine form in the competition as they were edged out by a highly motivated home side in a feisty encounter at Weston-super-Mare.
On an unseasonably windy night, the newly relegated hosts signalled their intent as early as the third minute when Lloyd Irish, back at the club for whom he starred for several seasons at the level above, was required to save well at the feet of Sam Hendy.
Hendy came even closer to scoring on the quarter hour, nipping onto a back header and rounding Irish before back-heeling the ball against the post as his angle diminished. New signing from Cirencester Town, Ben Whitehead, then broke clear down the right flank and set up Hendy for another chance, but this time the midfielder scuffed his shot and Irish was able to save with ease.
Whitehead had a chance to score himself just before the half-hour mark when set up by Jake Mawford. Irish saving again but a minute later he was finally beaten by a fine strike from Hendy, set up by Scott Laird, that took a deflection off striker Owen Howe as it found the net following a well worked corner routine.
Though generally under the cosh in the first half, Town had plenty of chances of their own. The best fell to Andrew Neal early on when, receiving a Ben Adelsbury through ball with his back to goal, the striker turned skilfully and got in a low shot that Niall Maher did well to palm away. Town also finished the half strongly, with Neal having a strong penalty claim declined just before the break when he appeared to be tripped by Maher after intercepting a pass from Greg Tindle, Dan Sullivan being unable to find the target from the loose ball.
Taunton pressed hard for an equaliser after the restart. Shane White picked out Ed Palmer with a deep free kick and the centre half set up Neal who was again denied by Maher. Palmer blasted a free kick over the top before Lewis Hall replaced Josh Grant and made an immediate impression, picking out Matt Wright to set up Sullivan for an effort that whizzed just over the bar.
Sullivan had another effort well saved as Town continued to turn the screw but they could not make the pressure count and the home side always threatened on the break. Mawford dipped a volley just wide before, with just six minutes remaining, the ever dangerous Hendy burst through the heart of the Taunton defence and slipped the ball low to Irish’s right.
The second goal meant that a late penalty, emphatically despatched by Neal after Ollie Chamberlain had been clipped, was merely consolation for the Peacocks who, after winning their last five Premier Cup finals, fell at the last hurdle for the first time since losing to Clevedon in 1999.
Match: Weston-super-Mare vs Taunton Town
Date: July 30, 2019
Competition: Somerset Premier Cup Final 2018-19
Venue: Optima Stadium
Kick Off: 7.45pm
Taunton: Lloyd Irish, Pierce Mitchell (Jack Rice 84), Shane White, Ben Adelsbury, Ed Palmer, Jamie Price, Ollie Chamberlain, Dan Sullivan, Matt Wright (captain), Josh Grant (Lewis Hall 58 ), Andrew Neal. Unused subs: Noah Coppin, Luke Manley, Matt Villis
Weston: Niall Maher, Jake Mawford, Scott Laird, Alex Byrne, Charlie Madden (Aaron Parsons 59), Greg Tindle (captain), Nick McCootie, Sam Hendy (Tom Llewellyn 90+5), Owen Howe, Ben Whitehead (Jay Malshnskyj 88), Isaac Pearce. Unused subs: Jarrad Welch, Luke Purnell
Referee: Martin Peters (Bristol)
Referee’s Assistant 1: Stephen Kay (Cheddar)
Referee’s Assistant 2: Kevin Lewis (Yeovil)