Evo-Stik South West

Taunton Town 1, Bideford 1

A BELOW-PAR display by Taunton Town saw the runaway league leaders held by Bideford at the Viridor Stadium.

Dan Sullivan's 18th minute lob was cancelled out by Ben Seymour's penalty after an error by Lloyd Irish and, though Matt Wright hit the woodwork twice, Taunton can have few complaints about settling for a share of the spoils.

The Peacocks started with Matt Buse in an unfamiliar right wing-back role in place of the injured Pierce Mitchell, with Shane White on the left and Craig Veal handed a start against his old side up front.

The hosts started the game on the front foot and could have opened the scoring on a couple of occasions as Veal was denied from a one-on-one and Keith Emmerson's shot was cleared off the line after the goalkeeper had flapped at a corner.

The game was then sparked into life by a moment of controversy, as Peacocks frontman Wright went up for a header and left his opposite number in a heap.

Bideford players alleged an elbow had been used, with visiting captain Matty Bye the most vociferous in his claims, but the referee took no action and the defender was left to patch up a bloodied face.

With the visitors momentarily down to 10 men, Taunton took the lead as Veal's flick on sent Sullivan clear and he kept his cool to lob the bouncing ball over Steve Oliver from inside the box.

It could, and perhaps should, have been two moments later when Wright smashed a header against the post - Shane White's header from the cross that followed did find the net but the wing-back was denied by an offside flag.

The game entered a lull after that flurry of action, with few chances at either end as Taunton took a 1-0 lead into the break.

Wright saw another header thump off the woodwork shortly after the restart, with the crossbar denying the skipper on this occasion as he connected well with Ryan Brett's free-kick.

Sullivan then poked a great chance over from six yards and the game became scrappy, with both captains among a raft of players booked for a mixture of poor challenges and dissent.

Bideford found their leveller through a mishap in the Taunton defence, as Josh Nelmes' back header had too much on it and sent Lloyd Irish scrambling wide of his goal to keep the ball in play.

The goalkeeper managed that but succeeded only in spilling it and bringing down Seymour, who picked himself up to send Irish the wrong way from the spot.

Irish received a yellow card for the foul and Nelmes soon followed him into the book for chopping down a rampaging Seymour as the cautions continued to pile up, while Taunton saw a huge penalty appeal of their own waved away as Ryan Brett's shot was blocked by what the hosts believed was a defender's arm.

Bideford looked the more likely to snatch a winner in the closing stages, with Sean Downing sending a looping header narrowly wide as Taunton struggled to find their rhythm.

Brett fired over with the last action of a scrappy game which could have gone either way - Taunton now lead the table by 13 points ahead of Saturday's trip to North Leigh.

Taunton Town: Lloyd Irish, Matt Buse, Shane White, Josh Nelmes (Joel Randall), Keith Emmerson, Toby Down, Ollie Chamberlain, Ryan Brett, Matt Wright (c), Dan Sullivan, Craig Veal.