A magnificent performance against higher ranked opposition secured a comfortable passage for the Peacocks to the final qualifying round of the Emirates FA Cup. The win added another notable scalp to Town’s collection but whereas their victories over other National League South sides during their epic run of two years ago saw them ride their luck at times, there was no such uncertainty on a memorable night at the Viridor Stadium.
Town welcomed back Dan Sullivan to the starting eleven in place of Craig Veal, the only change from the previous game against Frome. A low key opening to proceedings saw both sides size each other up with neither able to create a chance of note in the opening quarter hour. Town though began to click, with Saints keeper Dean Snedker punching clear Ryan Brett’s corner under pressure and then Rocky Neal curling in a neat effort from the left which went narrowly wide.
Once Town had broken through after 21 minutes they never looked back. Brett launched a free kick from the left side to the back post where Josh Nelmes got his head on it and Matt Buse capitalised in a flash to fire home from six yards. The Peacocks then doubled their lead five minutes later with an excellent piece of improvisation, Buse breaking down the left to feed Sullivan whose byeline cross was met by the unmarked Brett who flicked the ball into the net with the back of his heel.
Sullivan saw a shot blocked after finding more space and then Pierce Mitchell sent a 25 yard strike wide as Town kept the pressure on which paid off on 39 minutes with a third goal. Brett played a short corner to Sullivan on the left and from his cross Ollie Chamberlain ran in to pounce and force the ball home as the St Albans defence dawdled. A Ben Wyatt corner caused a slight moment of concern for Town but that really was the best the visitors could offer in a one sided first half which could have ended even more disastrously for them, with Brett firing just wide from Sullivan’s pass and then Brett again sending in a looping volley from 20 yards which cannoned back off the crossbar.
After an inevitable half time inquest St Albans had the first chance of the second half when David Noble’s shot deflected for a corner off Brett Trowbridge from which Ralston Gabriel fired over the top. However the Town fans were in dreamland when their team made it 4-0 eight minutes in. Mitchell won the ball on the right to feed Neal and when his low cross came off Lewis Knight it fell to Chamberlain and although his 12 yard effort was straight at Snedker the Saints keeper could only parry it and watch it drop over his head into the net.
Gabriel managed to pull one back for St Albans on 61 minutes, collecting a pass down the left to cut in and curl a good finish into the far corner. This breakthrough pepped the visitors up, with David Moyo climbing to head just over from Percy Kiangebeni’s cross before they reduced the deficit further with 14 minutes remaining, a corner from the right reaching Tom Bender beyond the far stick and he took a touch to lash an angled finish in off the opposite post.
Any niggling thoughts of an unlikely Saints comeback though were soon quashed as Town regained the initiative. Good play from Brett found Chamberlain who set up Neal for a drive which travelled wide and Brett sent another shot off-target while the best opportunity to finally kill the tie came when a defender misjudged the bounce and Veal found himself through on goal but almost had too much time to choose an option and snatched his effort well wide.
However this miss was soon forgotten when Town brought the house down with a fifth goal one minute into added time. Brett’s free kick from the left found Ben Adelsbury out wide and his pass was volleyed home in sublime fashion by Buse to cap off a terrific individual and team display which secured another £15,000 for Town’s prize fund and presented the challenge of another National League side in the next round with a trip to Essex to face Billericay in ten days.
Match: Taunton Town v St Albans City
Date: October 10, 2018
Competition: Emirates FA Cup | 3rd Round Qualifying
Venue: Viridor Stadium
Kick Off: 7.45pm
Match Sponsor: Terence Ball Kitchens & Invest Southwest
Match Ball Sponsor: Intersport Tony Pryce Sports, Innovation By Design
Taunton: Lloyd Irish, Pierce Mitchell, Shane White (captain), Ben Adelsbury, Josh Nelmes, Matt Buse, Ollie Chamberlain, Ryan Brett, Brett Trowbridge, Dan Sullivan (Craig Veal 66), Andrew Neal (Keith Emmerson 79). Unused subs: Douglas Camilo, Matt Villis, Mike Davies
St Albans: Dean Snedker, Ben Herd (Solomon Sambou 61), Tom Bender, David Noble (captain) (Sam Merson 71), Lewis Knight, Dave Didehiou, Ben Wyatt, Clovis Kamdjo (Khale Da Costa 61), Ralston Gabriel, David Moyo, Percy Kiangebeni. Unused subs: Zane Banton, Jacob Gardiner-Smith
Referee: Daniel Lamport (Swindon)
Referee’s Assistant 1: Alan Berrow (Lydney)
Referee’s Assistant 2: Martin Peters (Bristol)