Evo-Stik Southern League Division 1 South & West

Bridgwater Town 1, Taunton Town 5

TAUNTON TOWN survived a first-half scare to ease past local rivals Bridgwater Town and tighten their grip on second place with just two league games to play.

Strikers Matt Wright and Craig Duff both hit braces for the Peacocks, with Josh Searle adding the other, as Leigh Robinson’s side recovered from going behind early on to take all three points.

The game got off to an even start, with rock-bottom Bridgwater determined not to make life easy for their high-flying neighbours, and the hosts took a surprise lead on 12 minutes when Elliot Ripley met Tyne Govier’s free-kick with a bullet header that spiralled over Lloyd Irish.

The goal shook the Peacocks into action, and they were within inches of instantly restoring parity as Josh Searle's effort from just inside the box came back off the post.

Taunton did get back on terms after 20 minutes, with Craig Duff converting from the penalty spot after Kurt Robinson was adjudged to have handled Pierce Mitchell’s cross.

The game then went through a scrappy spell, with neither side looking particularly comfortable in possession on a difficult pitch, but just as Bridgwater thought they may have done enough to reach half-time level they collapsed before the break.

Josh Searle was the first to profit, slotting into an empty net after Duff had unselfishly squared the ball to the onrushing wing-back – though the hosts were adamant that the striker was offside as he ran through on goal.

Visiting skipper Matt Wright then put himself in the centre of the action, heading in the third before flicking on to set up Duff’s second on the stroke of half-time to put the Peacocks 4-1 up at the interval.

The second period was devoid of chances until Matt Buse hit the post for the visitors on 68 minutes, and shortly afterwards the fifth goal did arrive as Wright steered home Chamberlain’s cross to notch his second of the afternoon.

Taunton's captain was inches away from completing his hat-trick soon afterwards but saw an effort come back off the bar before being replaced by Jordan Rogers.

Bridgwater continued to battle, with Matt Connick showing some quick feet to create a couple of opportunities for himself, but the extra power and quality in the Taunton ranks shone was simply too much for the young home side despite their valiant efforts.

The Robins travel to Paulton on Monday, with Taunton at home to Bideford.