Evo-Stik Southern League
Premier Division South
Taunton Town 3, Merthyr Town 2

MATT Buse's late header capped a thrilling comeback from Taunton Town against Merthyr Town on Monday, and the victory sees the Peacocks move to within one point of leaders Weymouth ahead of this weekend's league finale.

Taunton looked dead and buried when goals from Ian Traylor and Jamie Veale left them 2-0 down with 20 minutes to go.

But strikes from Andrew Neal (his 35th goal of the season), Dan Sullivan and Buse won it for the hosts, who are guaranteed at least second place in their first season at this level.

The first half ended goalless, although the Peacocks had edged the play, seeing several shots blocked.

But they were caught on the break on 58 minutes, Traylor finishing off a sweeping Merthyr move, and Veale made it 2-0 in the 68th minute after the home side were again caught short at the back.

It only took two minutes for the Peacocks to equalise, though, as Neal converted from a corner – and four minutes later it was 2-2, Sullivan smashing home after a penalty area scramble.

The hosts pressed for a winner and finally got it in the 90th minute, Buse stooping to head home from Neal's cross-shot to the delight of the home fans in a crowd of 801.

It leaves Taunton one point adrift of Weymouth – who drew 1-1 at Poole Town – with this Saturday's final matches seeing Taunton go to Basingstoke Town, and Weymouth host Farnborough.

Player ratings

Aside from a 10-minute spell in which Taunton's defence was cut apart by Merthyr counter-attacks, this was a controlled performance from the Peacocks.

Here's what sports reporter Richard Browne made of the players' performances.

Lloyd Irish - 7

The home goalkeeper was largely untroubled in the first half, with his main task being to collect errant through balls from the visitors. Made a good, low save from Tom Meechan after the break, and could not do a lot about Merthyr's goals as he was left exposed.

Pierce Mitchell - 6

The right wing-back saw a first-half shot blocked in what was an uncharacteristically quiet first game for him. Few crosses of note, and unable to get back when Merthyr counter-attacked to score.

Lewis Hall - 8

Hall proved to be a valuable outlet down the left, while also being sharp in the tackle and putting opponents under pressure. Struck by misfortune in the visitors' first goal, as he was back to make a tackle but couldn't quite clear the danger.

Shane White - 8

Showed his intent early on with a big tackle on Traylor. Defended well under pressure, and was well-placed to deal with counter-attacks... aside from the two which were converted into goals, of course.

Ed Palmer - 6

Not at his best on this occasion, despite enjoying the better of the physical tussles in the first half. Was booked for a heavy challenge before half-time, and was beaten to the ball for the opening goal. Steadied after that nightmare 10 minutes, but one shanked clearance into the air had home fans' hearts in their mouths again.

Josh Nelmes - 7

A competent performance from the centre-back, who seems to be on an upward curve with his performances. Missed two headed chances from set-pieces, but made up for it with a goal-line clearance at the other end.

Matt Buse - 8

An early charge down the middle to reach a through ball set the tone for his performance. This was the best all-action display the Taunton faithful have seen from him in a while, and he was rewarded with the winning goal.

Ryan Brett - 7

Some classy turns and passing from the midfielder, but his set-pieces were a mixed bag. Several corners and free-kicks caused Merthyr problems, but one free-kick from a good position was whacked straight into the defensive wall.

Matt Wright - 7

More good hold-up play from the captain. Much like Sullivan, he was ever-willing but it seemed like chances just wouldn't fall for him. But he played his part in the winner, flicking the ball on for Veal, whose cross was turned back inside for Buse to score.

Dan Sullivan - 7

Made a somewhat sloppy start, with passes not coming off for him, but he worked hard and kept probing away. Always looking to link up with Neal, both forwards ended up on the scoresheet - Sullivan thumping in after Neal saw a shot blocked.

Andrew Neal - 8

Started off quietly, but his persistence paid off in the end. Had several good efforts blocked as Merthyr put their bodies on the line, and was also booked for what was harshly deemed to be a dive. But he popped up to score when Taunton needed it most, and then played a part in the second and third goals.

Craig Veal - 6

Brought on for Nelmes with Taunton 2-0 down. Only had 20 minutes to make an impact, but was always running in behind, and heavily involved in the winning goal.

Keith Emmerson and Luke Manley - N/A

Came on for Mitchell and Sullivan, to run the clock down and hold onto the 3-2 lead in stoppage time. They managed.

But who is your pick as man of the match? Let us know in the poll below (closes noon on April 23):