RAMPANT Taunton Town got their season off to an impressive start with a comfortable 3-0 win away to league new boys Wantage Town yesterday, writes James Wright.
The Hellenic League champions were given a torrid baptism in their bow at the higher level, seeing very little of the ball during a first half in which the visitors hit the woodwork three times as well as taking the lead through Nat Pepperell.
Taunton first threatened after eight minutes when midfielder Ben Carter fired in a shot from a cheeky angle that home keeper Lee Farrow did well to palm onto the bar. Carter was also just wide with a shot from the resultant corner, but the opening goal was not far away. Just after the quarter hour mark, Rob Norrish was crudely scythed down by centre back Ryan Millward, and Farrow was unsighted as Pepperell planted his free-kick inside the near post through a woefully ineffective wall.
Newcomers Aidan Chainey and Joe Bushin were both only the width of the goal frame away from opening their Taunton accounts as the visitors continued to dominate. The former side-footed a Jamie Price centre against the base of the post with Pepperell's follow-up being chalked off for offside. Bushin then planted a head on to the bar, and Brett Trowbridge saw his shot from the rebound somehow scrambled off the line.
Wantage offered little in attack other than a Jake Johns shot from a Robbie Sadler cross that was easily saved by Joe Perry, and a Tom Melledew strike that curled just over.
The second goal arrived nine minutes after the interval when Price's purposeful run into the box was curtailed by a Jon Steedman trip. Pepperell made no mistake from the spot, planting his kick to Farrow's left.
Taunton continued to be guilty of profligacy in front of goal, and suffered a bit of a wobble quarter of an hour before the end. Veteran midfielder Tom Melledew sent Perry scurrying across his line to claw out a delightfully flighted free-kick, then had an even better chance from the spot after Norrish was harshly judged to have impeded Jimmy Deabill.
Perry was again the master, diving low to his right to pull off an impressive save. A few moments later the result was safe when Bushin out-muscled his marker and despatched a fine shot into the top corner to secure Taunton's tenth consecutive competitive victory.
Taunton: Joe Perry, Jamie Price, Steve Kingdon (captain), Owen Irish, Ben Mammola, Rob Norrish, Aidan Chainey (Jamie Short 72), Ben Carter, Brett Trowbridge (Simon Ingram 88), Joe Bushin (Shane Kingston 88), Nat Pepperell. Unused subs: Lewis Tasker, Rodney Marsh.
Wantage Town: Lee Farrow, Gavin Kidd, Matthew Jones, Jon Steedman, Ryan Millward, Stuart Cattell (Richie Guy 61), Robbie Sadler (Karl Roberts 83), Tom Melledew (captain), Jimmy Deabill, Danny Lachacz, Jake Johns (Curtis Da Costa 61). Unused subs: Luca Riccio, Gareth Tucker, Referee: Chris Wickes (Reading).
Assistants: James Robinson (Southampton), Alex Emery (Oxford).