It was an historic day at the Viridor Stadium as the Peacocks made their debut at Southern Premier level for the first time since their formation 71 years ago. And the result befitted the occasion as the hosts secured a handsome victory over their visitors from the historic county of Middlesex.
In reality Town did not have to find higher gears to overcome a Swans side who were transferred from the Isthmian League over the summer and who were consequently making their first ever visit to Taunton. The hosts, attacking the Invest Southwest End, applied the early pressure without a clear chance coming their way. Matt Wright headed wide while several other incursions into the box were cut out or blocked but the picture changed after 26 minutes when Town took the lead. Dan Sullivan was the victim of a late challenge from Ryan Handelaar on the right but with Andrew Neal collecting the loose ball, referee Kane sensibly played advantage and the summer signing from Truro maintained his pre-season goalscoring form by netting from a tight angle past Staines keeper Louis Dixon.
Pierce Mitchell saw a strike deflect to Dixon as Town looked to press home their superiority while the visitors had their first and only real sight of goal in the opening half, with George Fry running across the edge of the box but seeing his tame effort roll wide of the post. Shane White failed to direct his header on target from Ryan Brett’s free kick at the other end before Brett was involved in the build-up to the second goal after 39 minutes, winning the ball in midfield to feed Sullivan who in turn put Ollie Chamberlain clear on the right and he advanced into the box to steer the ball wide of Dixon into the far corner.
Neal had a shot blocked and Wright ran in to meet Mitchell’s high cross but couldn’t keep his header down as the Peacocks ended the half comfortably on top. And their day got even better just five minutes after the interval when Sullivan won a challenge to scamper forward and send an angled strike off the far post, the loose ball falling for Matt Buse to slide in Town’s third.
Sullivan was upended soon after but penalty appeals were waved away before Staines enjoyed their best spell of the afternoon. Fry sliced a shot wide and Billy Montague had an effort pouched routinely by Lloyd Irish while Brendan Murphy-McVey curled a free kick wide of the left post. The game threatened to peter out for a time until Town emerged strong again in the final quarter. Keith Emmerson nodded just wide from White’s corner and Craig Veal’s header was disallowed for offside before White played another corner straight to Sullivan whose 15 yard strike was touched over by Dixon for a corner from which sub Josh Nelmes headed past the post.
Irish ensured a clean sheet with a late save of Murphy-McVey’s shot but there was one more goal in the locker and it went the Peacocks’ way five minutes into stoppage time when Nelmes floated in a low cross from the right to find Veal who slotted home via Dixon’s leg. That was virtually the last kick of the game as the final whistle blew upon resumption, leaving the vast majority of the impressive 571 crowd to celebrate Town’s successful start to their season.
Match: Taunton Town v Staines Town
Date: August 11, 2018
Competition: Evo Stik League | Southern Premier
Venue: Viridor Stadium
Kick Off: 3.00pm
Match Sponsor: Tom & Elsie Harris
Match Ball Sponsor: Tom & Elsie Harris
Taunton: Lloyd Irish, Pierce Mitchell (Nuno Felix 85), Shane White, Ben Adelsbury, Keith Emmerson, Matt Buse, Ollie Chamberlain, Ryan Brett (Josh Nelmes 71), Matt Wright (captain) (Craig Veal 71), Dan Sullivan, Andrew Neal. Unused subs: Michael Meaker, Tom Stone
Staines: Louis Dixon, George Pilbeam, Billy Montague, Ryan Handelaar (captain) (Elan Assiaina 54), Davis Cofie, Brendan Murphy-McVey, George Boland (Marley Hamilton 68), Thomas Gogo, Harry Stow (Harry Wickens 54), Ruudi Clarke, George Fry. Unused subs: Akeeb Adeyemo, Steven Parsons
Referee: Stuart Kane (Saltash)
Referee’s Assistant 1: Jack Borlase (Saltash)
Referee’s Assistant 2: Shaun Edge (Torpoint)