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Taunton Town Results Match Review
Monday 02 April 2018
Bideford v Taunton Town
0 - 1

The Peacocks took another giant step towards claiming their first ever Southern League title with a win at a very soggy Sports Ground. The margin of victory somewhat flattered the home side who were lucky not to concede more but thanks to their keeper Steve Oliver and some dogged defending Town had to settle for the single goal as they recorded game number 28 in a row unbeaten.

With the in-form Craig Veal absent and Matt Buse not risked with his knee injury, Josh Nelmes slotted into midfield and Ollie Chamberlain reverted to the starting line-up after being on the bench against Kidlington. Again roared on by a vocal and sizeable travelling contingent, Town made the better start on a very heavy surface - prolonged rain during the previous 24 hours had left it heavily waterlogged in the morning but thanks to the valiant efforts of Bideford ground staff and volunteers, the pitch was passed as playable. 

As early as the sixth minute, the Peacocks had nearly forged ahead when Pierce Mitchell curled in a cross from the right which Nuno Felix, unmarked at the far post, met with a looping header. Unfortunately though it rebounded off the bar, with Dan Sullivan’s follow-up hitting Craig Allan, his second attempt blocked by Oliver and his third somehow being squeezed out amongst a melee of players on the post.

Sullivan then won the ball on the edge of the area to feed Mitchell out wide and from his centre Matt Wright launched over the bar while Shane White had the same result, lifting the ball over the top from close in after Wright had headed on Ryan Brett’s free kick as Town remained well on top. The first real opportunity for the hosts came when Josh Key’s neat pass put Ryan Turner free on the left side of the box but Lloyd Irish was equal to his strike, diving to palm the ball away. Apart from this, Town hardly gave the Robins a look-in for the rest of the half and were close to retiring to the dressing room with the lead when Wright’s deflection put Sullivan through on the right but with Oliver coming out to narrow the angle the Peacocks frontman dinked the ball into the side netting.

Frustration continued for Town’s second leading scorer either side of the break, a good turn ending with his shot being blocked and then another effort suffering the same fate after Nelmes had set him up following a long Felix throw. It was a rather slow start to the second half for the visitors though which was brought to life by a fine run from Mitchell who collected Wright’s pass to advance forward and force Oliver to turn his left-footed strike wide for a corner. Town then had a wake-up call when Turner was played in by Sean Downing and drilled a shot agonisingly wide of the far post.

This let-off prompted Town to reassert their control and they never seriously looked like conceding again. The only problem was how to break the stalemate at the other end. Chamberlain won a tackle to release Sullivan but Oliver stopped his attempt with his legs and gathered before Chamberlain himself broke down the right only to miscue straight to the Robins’ keeper.

With steady rain now falling, the winner finally arrived with 17 minutes left on the clock. Brett’s ball over the top sent Sullivan scurrying down the left and after beating Key, his cross into the middle was met by Chamberlain’s header from six yards which Oliver failed to hold on the line, the ball squirming loose for Wright to gleefully steer home his 24th goal of the campaign into the corner. The goal was no more than the Peacocks deserved and they had a couple of openings to add extra gloss to the scoreline before the end. Sullivan cut in after receiving a lob from Wright but was again thwarted by Oliver before more good work by the Town skipper gave Chamberlain a shooting chance which was again blocked.

Nerves jangled at the end when Town conceded a free kick around 20 yards out but Matty Bye’s effort drifted over and Town were able to relax in the knowledge that following results elsewhere another five points from their remaining six fixtures would bring the championship to the Viridor Stadium.

By Andy Power

Taunton: Lloyd Irish, Pierce Mitchell, Nuno Felix, Ben Adelsbury (Toby Down 79), Keith Emmerson, Shane White, Josh Nelmes, Ryan Brett, Matt Wright (captain), Dan Sullivan (Les Afful 85), Ollie Chamberlain. Unused subs: Joel Randall, Alpha Sow, Matt Buse

Bideford: Steve Oliver, Ian Sampson, Steve Reed, Sean Downing, Craig Allan, Dan Harrison, Matty Bye (captain), Max Smallcombe (Ben Seymour 63), Kevin Squire (Ben Wood 57), Ryan Turner, Joshua Key. Unused subs: James Mayne, Dan Western ,Will Hancox

Referee: Lee Roberts (Plymouth)

Assistants: Ryan Cornelius (Plymouth), Mark Carroll (Plymouth)

Attendance: 412


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