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Taunton Town Results Match Review
Saturday 22 April 2017
North Leigh v Taunton Town
1 - 0 L

The Peacocks concluded their Evo-Stik League campaign with defeat as a late goal put paid to their hopes of claiming third spot.  It was a frustrating afternoon for Town who plugged away in search of a breakthrough but found their attacking threat blunted by a combination of a solid home defence, bone hard pitch and absence of a creative spark. Stand-in North Leigh keeper Stuart Hole, normally a defender, had only one real save of note to make during the 90 minutes which tells the story.

With centre half Alex Hoyle failing a pre-match fitness test, Shane White again stood in as centre half while Craig Duff partnered Matt Wright up front, and it was Duff who earned Town an early opportunity in the first minute when he was brought down just outside the box. However Ross Staley’s free kick deflected off the wall for a corner from which Owen Irish headed wide. This signalled a positive start from the Peacocks as they earnt a series of corners before a Matt Villis free kick from the centre circle was flicked on to Duff whose close range effort hit a North Leigh body for another flag kick.   

The hosts gradually began to penetrate downfield and kept the ball penned in the Town half for a spell before play swung to the other end but Staley and Duff were both thwarted by home interventions. Generally though Town were having a hard time trying to get the ball down and play on such a hard surface although another half chance popped up when Duff headed on a clearance to find Staley who turned and fired in a shot which deflected into Hole’s hands.

Lance Williams tried an ambitious 30 yard strike which Lloyd Irish held comfortably as the Millers ended the half on top. A Will Wellon header from a Michael Hopkins corner was nodded off the line by Duff and Roger James fired well over before North Leigh were presented with a golden chance to go into the break with the advantage. A Hopkins’ free kick from the right was cleared off the line at the far post by White but in the melee it was adjudged Villis had felled Lance Williams. Hopkins’ penalty though was tipped onto the post by Irish diving superbly to his left and Town escaped to the dressing rooms on level terms.

The second half resumed with Hopkins rifling way over the bar while Duff headed wide from Staley’s cross when well placed. Town made a double substitution ten minutes in to try and pep things up but continued to lack real incision. Ben Palmer couldn’t direct his header on target after Matt Wright had flicked on a Jordan Rogers’ pass whilst Staley dragged a shot wide and Wright’s angled strike was blocked off for another corner.

With the need for a goal becoming ever more vital given results elsewhere, Craig Veal entered the battle with just over twenty minutes remaining as the Peacocks went for broke up front. Staley chested the ball down to fire a strike just wide from 25 yards but North Leigh remained dangerous on the break, George Seacole drilling a cross-shot across the face of goal after a James run.

With no safecracker available to unlock the Millers’ vault, Staley went solo and forced Hole into action five minutes from time, receiving a pass from Wright and riding a challenge after jinking in from the flank to drive in a shot which the keeper touched over. With bodies committed, Town were liable to get caught out and so it proved with three minutes left.  Lance Williams found Seacole out wide and his cross from the right was forced home by James despite Irish getting something on it.

A Rogers’ cross was too high for Wright to connect with as Town persevered to the end but ultimately the form which got them into the play-offs deserted them for the season finale. However the Peacocks have proved their credentials in one-off games this season so cause for optimism ahead of the looming semi-final at old rivals Tiverton.          

By Andy Power

Taunton: Lloyd Irish, Pierce Mitchell, Ross Staley, Owen Irish, Matt Villis (Craig Veal 69), Shane White, Ollie Chamberlain, Brett Trowbridge (captain), Matt Wright, Craig Duff (Jordan Rogers 56), Matt Buse (Ben Palmer 56). Unused subs: Josh Searle, Ed Palmer

North Leigh: Stuart Hole, Jordan Lymn, Morgan Williams (Jamie Cook 59), Wayne Turk (Dan James 73), Will Wellon, Matt Sysum (captain), Roger James, Josh Thomas, George Seacole  Lance Williams, Michael Hopkins. Unused subs: Andy Gunn, Robert Wyatt

Referee: Sam Lewis (Bedford)

Assistants: Thomas Cooke (Northampton), Ivan Gelov (Oxford)

Attendance: 136


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