Evo-Stik South West

Taunton Town 3, Barnstaple Town 0

TAUNTON Town eased past Barnstaple Town to open up a seven-point cushion at the top of Evo-Stik South West.

In an bad-tempered affair littered with niggly fouls, Dan Sullivan and Ryan Brett got the first half goals before Matt Buse added a third early in the second period.

The match started slowly, with neither side able to get a firm hold on possession and few chances created in the opening exchanges.

Taunton thought they had broken the deadlock when Matt Wright's flick on was rolled past the goalkeeper by Ollie Chamberlain, but the Peacocks' celebrations were interrupted by the award of a free-kick for a pull on the shirt by the hosts' skipper.

That was the first of several flashpoints in a challenging first half for the referee, who had to book Karl Rickard for a late challenge on Lloyd Irish after the goalkeeper came out his area to clear the ball.

Soon afterwards, both Pierce Mitchell and Barum's Lloyd Gardner were also in the book for an off the ball scuffle as the match threatened to boil over.

Eventually some football broke out, and the hosts took the lead when Dan Sullivan, who minutes earlier had sent a free header wide, fired an effort into the bottom corner from the edge of the box via a deflection.

Visiting defender Kai Fisher was booked for his complaints in the aftermath of the opener, and Ben Palmer should have made it two in Taunton's next attack but fired over from close range.

The Peacocks did establish a two-goal cushion with the final action of the first half as, from one of numerous free-kicks, Matt Wright's bullet header was pushed out as far as Ryan Brett, who tapped home the rebound.

Victory was sealed early in the second period when Taunton were awarded a penalty for a push in the back of Ollie Chamberlain - Ben Adelsbury's effort was well saved, but Wright kept it alive and Matt Buse fired home.

It was not all plain sailing for Taunton thereafter, and Lloyd Irish was called upon to make two superb saves as Barnstaple were allowed successive free headers from set pieces.

Chances were at a premium in the closing stages, though substitute Omar Simpson came close with a dipping half volley from 20 yards which was well saved by Grant Fisher.

Ollie Chamberlain was awarded the man of the match award following another impressive display, while Chris McGrath and Pierce Mitchell also stood out for the hosts in a victory that was functional rather than flamboyant.

The Peacocks can now look forward to a clash with promotion rivals Salisbury at the Viridor Stadium on Saturday (3pm).

Taunton Town: Lloyd Irish, Pierce Mitchell, Ben Palmer, Shane White, Chris McGrath, Ben Adelsbury (Ross Staley), Matt Buse, Ryan Brett, Matt Wright (Les Afful), Dan Sullivan (Omar Simpson), Ollie Chamberlain.