The Peacocks are in the hat for the FA Cup 1st Round Proper for the third time in seven seasons after a professional performance saw them gain a deserved draw at Huish Park. The visitors looked much the better side in the first half before the National League team upped their level after the break but had no change from a superb Town backline.
Changes were necessary from the last game at Ebbsfleet. Zac Smith, Ross Stearn and Nat Jarvis all came in, with Jake Wannell absent due to the injury suffered in that game while Joe Budd and Dave Sims-Burgess dropped to the bench. The Peacocks quickly went about dispelling the memories of that afternoon in Kent seven days earlier with a really positive start. Ollie Chamberlain’s lofted pass set Nick McCootie free, but his centre was overhit and a Lloyd James free kick was swung in and met by the head of Jarvis whose effort landed on top of the net. Stearn then latched onto a Jarvis touch to burst into space and fire wide of the target before Nick Grimes’ deep ball was knocked down by Stearn and fell to Jarvis who saw his shot blocked.
The Peacocks continued to play with a refreshing vibrancy as a James strike from the left was deflected over for the first corner of the match after 13 minutes. Then came the moment three minutes later that nearly sent the away support, numbering just shy of 1000, into raptures. McCootie laid the ball out to Chamberlain, his cross found Jarvis who directed a header goalwards and Stearn intercepted to volley against Grant Smith’s right-hand post.
Little had been seen of Yeovil in the final third, the Peacocks being untroubled by their initial long ball approach, with their first meaningful attack taking 22 minutes to materialise, Grimes heading clear a threatening Morgan Williams cross. The home side began to gain a foothold in the game, with Jack Bycroft managing to hold Matt Worthington’s awkwardly bouncing cross before home keeper Smith was called into action at the other end, palming over Chamberlain’s 20 yard drive after a James free kick had been cleared to him.
Another effort from the dynamic Chamberlain then passed well wide before the game swung the other way for a period, Yeovil making some inroads but creating little of note. Skipper Josh Staunton headed a Sam Pearson cross well wide, and Sam Perry was unable to get on the end of a Williams centre. The half ended with the visitors back with the initiative, pressurizing the home goal after winning a couple of corners as the opening 45 concluded with Town well in contention.
The second half began with the Peacocks on the attack, a Jay Foulston shot being blocked and Lee Lucas’ looped follow-up effort proving easy pickings for Smith. Whatever Glovers’ manager Chris Hargreaves had said to his team in the dressing room though seemed to work to a degree as the hosts started to attack with greater purpose. Worthington drove forward to find Williams who neatly turned and fired in a strike which Bycroft touched over, his first and only real save of the afternoon. Charlie Wakefield moved in from the left to drift a 25 yarder over while Worthington posted two efforts, his first being deflected just wide and then drilling a shot over after collecting a Grimes clearance.
Despite Yeovil’s improvement, Town remained fully in the contest. A patient build-up culminated in Stearn’s shot being parried by Smith and scrambled away for a corner, the first of three successive ones for the Peacocks which frustratingly failed to find a breakthrough although the final one of the trio from Foulston wasn’t far away from creeping in at the far post. Town then made their first switch midway through the half, with Dylan Morgan replacing Stearn whose vitality had given his side a real boost.
The Glovers continued to look less than clinical in the final third as they failed to make the most of the openings that came their way. Wakefield sidefooted wide from a good position after receiving Pearson’s cross and also fired a snapshot wide, sub Alex Fisher steered Perry’s cross over and Ben Richards-Everton blazed well wide as the Peacocks kept their shape superbly to frustrate the hosts whose fans began booing to show their displeasure. With just over ten minutes remaining, it was another case of what might have been for the visitors when Smith’s cross from the left was chested down by Jarvis, having his best game in a Peacocks shirt. However Richards-Everton managed to block his attempt at the expense of a corner.
The Glovers’ break from the corner was halted by Lucas’ challenge on Worthington, producing the first yellow card of the day. Worthington’s resultant free kick was safely gathered by Bycroft before Taunton’s Smith was rather harshly booked by referee Middleton who otherwise managed the game effectively. Into the final ten minutes and there was no late onslaught from the hosts trying to avoid a replay three days later. Bycroft held a looping header under pressure from Jake Scrimshaw and Worthington nodded Fisher’s knockdown over the top but that was it.
Morgan had a shot blocked and maintained the pressure as he did well to wriggle past the Yeovil defence on the right to deliver a cross which Staunton headed away, the attack finally ending when McCootie fired over from distance. A double substitution close to time gave Town fresh legs for the three minutes of stoppage time which were without incident, the only effort coming from Worthington whose header floated harmlessly wide from Owen Bevan’s cross. The whistle brought conflicting reactions from the 3093 crowd. Boos from the home fans and deserved applause from the away support for their side who had stuck to their task brilliantly for the entire game and on another day might have won it. It’s now back to the Cygnet for the Peacocks and with their unbeaten home record over the past 14 months who’s to say the job can’t be finished on Tuesday evening?
Taunton: Jack Bycroft, Jay Foulston, Nick Grimes (captain), Dan Ball, Ollie Chamberlain, Lloyd James, Nat Jarvis, Nick McCootie (Joe Guest 87), Ross Stearn, Zac Smith, Lee Lucas (Joe Budd 87). Unused subs: Harry Warwick, Ross Staley, Dave Sims-Burgess, Lloyd Irish (Dylan Morgan 66)
Yeovil: Grant Smith, Morgan Williams. Ben Richards-Everton, Matt Worthington, Malachi Linton (Alex Fisher 61), Sam Pearson, Sam Perry, Chlori Johnson, Charlie Wakefield (Jake Scrimshaw 79), Owen Bevan, Josh Staunton (captain). Unused subs: Max Hunt, Will Davies, Callum Rowe, Ollie Haste, Will Buse
Referee: Daniel Middleton (Heanor)
Referee’s Assistant 1: Ashley Clarke (Birmingham)
Referee’s Assistant 2: Daniel Robinson (Solihull)
” I thought we were absolutely outstanding first half, took the game to them, on the front foot, had all the chances………..” watch Rob Dray’s Match Reaction on Peacocks TV HERE
Match highlights can be seen on Peacocks TV HERE
Mind In Somerset MOM
Zac Smith was named Taunton Town Man Of The Match, photo to follow