Taunton Town vs Salisbury FC - Match report
Taunton Town 4 Salisbury FC 3
Evo-stik South Premier South
Wednesday, 28 November 2018
By Alec Hayter
Once more the Whites were made to suffer at the hands of the Peacocks in Somerset, but all that was proved or settled on the night was that sometimes in football better sides are beaten by grit and determination. That is not in any way to take anything from Taunton's win, but in truth they were also greatly helped by some mistakes and stupidity by their visitors. The Peacocks play a brand of football which fully utilises their players’ strengths and of course that is probably the aim of most football managers, but, for me, last night’s product was not an attractive one.
I'm sure that some eyebrows were raised when the team lineup was announced but, once more, the performance proved that most of the choices were correct, and in fact, Tom Whelan, playing in an unaccustomed well advanced role, wasted no time in showing his versatility. Unfortunately on two minutes his finishing did not match his approach and he lobbed the ball onto the roof of the net when one-on-one with home keeper Lloyd Irish.
Taunton hit back straight away when Andrew Neal's effort went narrowly wide and on 8 minutes a fierce Pierce Mitchell drive was deflected for a corner, but then it was Whelan who had a second chance to put his side two up in the first 10 minutes when he wriggled between two defenders before tamely firing over.
A lightning raid on 20 minutes however gave the home side the lead when Neal got down the left and fed Lewis Hall who scored across Jake Hallett from a narrow angle.
Almost in the same time it takes to write these words, the Whites were back on terms when Lewis Benson's good work saw him provide Pablo Haysham with an opportunity which he lapped up from the edge of the box with a well aimed cross shot into the far corner. An absolutely ideal response, and on 28 minutes Haysham pulled the ball back to Benson whose shot was gathered by Irish.
On the half-hour ex-Salisbury Ryan Brett showed when a corner into the danger area found Matt Buse who will have been disappointed to put his 6 yard header way over the bar. The game was end to end and open, and 5 minutes before the break Taunton had another attempt when Dan Sullivan shot too high.
All square at the break was a fair reflection on chances but not a fair reflection on quality as there was only one team trying to get the ball down and play.
Straight away in the second half Taunton took up the cudgels and had the ball in the net through Sullivan after Neal's effort was parried out to him, but the “goal” being ruled out for offside, but shortly afterwards the Peacocks regained the lead when Lewis Hall went through the middle and, possibly seeing little other option, let fly with a 25 yard shot which dipped under the bar but unfortunately over Hallett. This produced a response from the visitors and on 50 minutes Luke Hopper was unlucky to see his shot on the turn go just wide.
After a further 15 minutes, Whelan, who had caused havoc every time he was on the ball, reverted to a more normal role of taking a corner kick and Kane O'Keefe will have been more disappointed than Taunton's Buse with his attempted header.
On 66 minutes another attempt from Andrew Neal suffered the same fate but then there started a period of the game which most will remember, but some will want to forget. With 20 minutes remaining a Lewis Benson free kick fairly rocketed across the goalmouth but Bay Downing could get nothing on it and 5 minutes later Ben Adelsbury's freekick was brilliantly tipped over by Hallett.
The Whites were giving as good as they got however and another cross, this time from substitute Danny Young caused the Salisbury equaliser when Josh Nelmes could not avoid putting the ball into his own net.
The tide seem to have turned with 9 minutes remaining when yet another thrusting Whelan run saw him felled in the area by Ed Palmer****. Referee Kane had no hesitation in pointing to the spot but a good deal of hesitation, involving a consultation with his assistant, before deciding, surprisingly, not to show a card to Palmer, which would have course meant that he left the action, and that may well have proved crucial as with a short period of normal time remaining and with a man advantage, the Whites might well have grabbed all 3 points. Hopper duly converted the penalty to put his side in the lead for the first time in the match.
From the hour mark, and in the lead, the home side indulged in delaying tactics which caused keeper Irish to go into the referee's notebook, but unfortunately no one else, and the referee must have noted approximately 6 minutes of time that had been wasted . Regrettable as it is to say, when they were in the lead, the Whites adopted similar tactics, but the end result was that 8 minutes of time added were played, during which the match was settled.
Two minutes into time added a pinpoint Brett freekick panicked Hallett into a wrong decision whereby he parried the ball across goal as opposed to perhaps better touching it over his bar. Nelmes could not believe his luck with a free header in front of goal to make it 3-3.
Worse was to follow when Aaron Dawson suffered an attack of red mist and according to the referee verbally abused both him and his assistant, forgetting that he was already on a yellow card. He walked, and the Peacocks strutted to 3 points when another Brett cross found the head of Buse who also could not miss from close in.
The game ended with Hallett to some extent regaining his spurs in a one-on-one, but this game really was a case of what might have been. What is, however, is an eight-point gap between Taunton and Salisbury, although the Whites have a game in hand, whereas a success in Somerset would have meant a points advantage to the Whites and of course still with a valuable game in hand.
A depressed Steve Claridge said afterwards: "Only Salisbury could lose a game like that. We had our chances, particularly when the ball went across their goal more than once. I made my substitutions, which were correct, at the correct time, and initially that changed the game."
There is no doubt that in 8 days the Whites have suffered in one way or another from officials but they must also recognise their own shortcomings which ruined an otherwise very good performance.
I am confident that normal service will be resumed on Saturday against Metropolitan Police, although that match is sure to be another tough test.
Taunton Town: Irish, Mitchell (Nelms 46), Hall, Adelsbury, Palmer (Veal 88), Buse, White, Brett, Wright (Chamberlain 63), Sullivan, Neal.
Subs not used: Gardner, Emmerson
Salisbury FC: Hallett, Downing (Fitchett 77), Wheeler, Mullings, O'Keefe, Partridge, Benson, Dawson, Hopper, Whelan, Heysham (Young 77)
Subs not used: Kotwica, Shephard, Sommerton.
Attendance: 602 Referee S Kane (Saltash)
*** Apologies are due because of mistaken identity on my part. I am informed that the defender was Josh Nelmes and not Ed Palmer.