Taunton made light of the absence of their top scorer and two influential centre-backs as they brushed aside Bishops Cleeve on Saturday, recording a second victory in a little over a month over the Gloucestershire side.
Hitman Matt Wright was out with a neck injury whilst the unavailability of Owen Irish was compounded when his defensive partner Matt Villis hobbled out of the action as early as the eleventh minute. But, by the time Ben Palmer had replaced Villis, Taunton were already a goal to the good. Pierce Mitchell picked out Jordan Rogers with a perfect ball through the middle, and the striker rounded keeper Matt Wieczorek to roll the ball home from a narrowing angle at the Invest Southwest End.
The lead was soon doubled, Ed Palmer meeting a Ross Staley corner from the right to power home a near post header and, midway through the first half, Staley almost got his own name on the score sheet when he glanced a header just wide from an excellent Ollie Chamberlain cross from the right.
Rogers scuffed a shot when through on goal then, after Wieczorek had spilled a Staley free-kick, Alex Hoyle set up Shane White whose curling effort was charged down. Staley rifled over from a decent position after Rogers had flicked on a cross before at the other end, Bishops Cleeve’s first shot arrived two minutes before the break when Shane Bumphrey dipped an effort well over the bar.
A thunderous free kick from Ed Palmer was parried by Wieczorek when play resumed while good work by White enabled Mitchell to cross but Craig Veal was unable to control and it ran harmlessly to the keeper. A double substitution at the interval though had given the visitors impetus, and Bumphrey reduced the deficit on the hour with an excellent shot that picked out the top right hand corner.
An equaliser looked a very real possibility as Cleeve began to see more of the ball and enjoyed their best spell of the game, Jacob Davidge having a shot blocked following a break down the right by James Baldwin. However the door was slammed shut on them by a second Rogers goal. Moments after Chamberlain had headed a low flighted Rogers’ cross just wide of the target, Veal pulled the defence open with a purposeful run and set up White. The midfielder's stinging drive was well parried by Wieczorek, but the rebound was worked to Taunton's Man of the Match who curled a sumptuous left-footer into the bottom right hand corner of the Town End goal.
Cleeve had to play out the final nine minutes a man short after defender Ollie Butler was dismissed for a professional foul on Veal. Town made their numerical advantage count when substitute Josh Searle blasted in an excellent fourth goal from 18 yards after Chamberlain had found him with a pass from the left side of the box. Chamberlain turned to rifle a strike just over before a fifth then looked probable when a penalty was awarded for a trip on the Town midfielder by Jordan Stoddart. Rather than give Rogers the chance to complete his hat-trick, White took the kick, a move that was immediately regretted by all except Wieczorek who was presented with one of his easier saves of the afternoon. An eventful game was concluded when a long goal kick from Wieczorek picked out Joe Bates on the right and his ball across was lifted home by Jacob Davidge at the second attempt for a close-range consolation deep in injury time.
By James Wright
Taunton: Lloyd Irish, Pierce Mitchell, Ross Staley (Josh Searle 58), Alex Hoyle, Ed Palmer, Matt Villis (Ben Palmer 11), Shane White, Brett Trowbridge (captain), Jordan Rogers, Craig Veal (Matt Buse 83), Ollie Chamberlain. Unused sub: Michael Meaker
Bishops Cleeve: Matt Wieczorek, Logan Stoddart (James Baldwin 45), Ollie Butler, Aaron Drake, Jordan Stoddart, Chris Pates (Jack Watts 45), Jack Horrell, Kirk Layton (captain), Jacob Davidge, Shane Bumphrey (Joe Bates 82), Michael Ford. Unused subs: Jacob Nutting, Marc Wright
Referee: Martin Underhay (Weymouth)
Assistants: Said Ouchene (Dorchester), Alastair Francis (Beaminster)
Match Sponsor: One Line Surveys Ltd
Match Ball Sponsor: In memory of Gordon Hucker
Mascots: Staplegrove FC Under 10’s