Taunton lost 2-0 after a long trip to Merthyr Tydfil last night for what was always going to be one of the most difficult matches of the season, writes James Wright.
The Peacocks made a promising start, Giles Cutlan being asked to race from his line to deny Rodney Marsh, expertly released by Corey Lewis. Craig Herrod was just off target with the follow-up.
Thereafter, the visitors were under the cosh for the remainder of the first half. Efforts from Alun Griffiths, Ryan Newman and Luke Jones went excruciatingly close before the deadlock was broken just after the half hour mark. Newman hoisted over a corner from the right which was knocked back by Jamie Rewbury at the far post. Ryan Prosser rammed the ball into the net from barely six inches.
Christian Watts pulled off a couple of cracking saves to keep Town in contention at half-time. But another corner proved Taunton's undoing just thirty seconds into the second half, centre-back Gary Colborne majestically heading home.
Through on goal, Marsh had a wonderful opportunity to put the visitors back into the match, but his lob failed to clear Cutlan. The only other time the home keeper was seriously threatened was by a slice from one of his own defenders from a Herrod centre.
Youngsters Tom Hopkins, George Rogers and Toby Nicholson were all given a run in a depleted Taunton team clearly wearied by their fourth game in just eight days. Play-off bound Merthyr, chasing a third consecutive promotion, spurned a number of good chances to extend their winning margin in the closing stages.
Taunton: Christian Watts, Jamie Short, Alex Jeannin, Owen Irish (captain), Ed Weeks, Rob Norrish, Josh Wadham (Tom Hopkins 69), Simon Ingram (captain), Corey Lewis (Toby Nicholson 85), Rodney Marsh (George Rogers 73), Craig Herrod.
Merthyr: Giles Cutlan, Jon Newall (Kris Leek 56), Jack Howe, Jamie Rewbury (captain), Gary Colborne, Luke Jones (Alex Long 67), Ryan Newman, Garyn Preen, Ryan Prosser, Alun Griffiths, Ian Traylor (Marcus Griffiths 60). Unused subs: Aaron Cornwall, Andrew Thomas.
Referee: Adam Matthews (Stroud).
Assistants: Richard Morris (Stroud), Michael Halford (Bristol).