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

TAUNTON Town maintain their seven-point lead over Weymouth at the top of Premier Division South, after a 3-3 draw in front of 1,461 fans at the Viridor Stadium on Saturday.

Four of the goals came in a madcap first 20 minutes, and Andrew Neal and Emmanuel Odubade ended the day with two goals apiece.

The Peacocks were set to name an unchanged side from the Boxing Day win over Tiverton Town, only for Ryan Brett's knee to flare up and Dan Sullivan to take his place in midfield.

Still the hosts started well against their title rivals, and they led inside three minutes, as Neal cut in from the left and found the bottom corner with the apparent aid of a deflection.

But the lead only lasted nine minutes, a fine move down the left involving Abdulai Baggie and Callum Buckley ending with Odubade tapping in from close range.

And suddenly the visitors were ahead, in the 18th minute, as Keith Emmerson was caught upfield and Ben Thomson – adjudged to be onside – charged into the space, rounded goalkeeper Mike Davies with ease and slammed the ball home.

But within two minutes it was 2-2, as Pierce Mitchell put in one of his many fine deliveries from the right and Matt Buse rose to plant his header into the far corner.

Neal twice headed wide for the hosts, before Thomson came so close to putting Weymouth back in front, his header clawed out superbly by Davies.

Taunton ended the half strongly, Mitchell firing narrowly over from 20 yards, as the sides went in all square at the break – great entertainment for the bumper crowd, bolstered by two coaches of travelling supporters.

After a nervy opening to the second period, the Peacocks began creating chances again, and Buse twice saw efforts go just wide.

The second was deflected out for a corner, which was delivered by Sullivan, flicked on and Neal was there to prod his side back ahead in the 52nd minute.

Jordan Ngalo almost replied immediately, his 20-yard shot striking the crossbar, but the visitors were level on 59 minutes, as Odubade scored from the penalty spot after Thomson was felled by Shane White.

As the game progressed, it was Weymouth who looked most likely to score a fourth – Odubade sending a cross-shot narrowly wide, Ngalo's effort being spilled by Davies and gathered at the second attempt, and Josh Wakefield almost picking out the top corner after Baggie's run.

Baggie was becoming a real menace for the home backline, and after teasing the defenders he laid the ball off for Buckley to strike, Davies tipping it round the post.

But despite the introduction of the division's top goalscorer Brandon Goodship off the bench, the away side could not find a winner – Taunton clinging on for a precious point against the pre-season favourites.

Taunton Town: Mike Davies, Pierce Mitchell (Josh Nelmes 64), Lewis Hall (James Dodd 82), Ben Adelsbury, Keith Emmerson, Shane White, Matt Buse, Ollie Chamberlain, Dan Sullivan (Craig Veal 74), Matt Wright (c), Andrew Neal.
Sub not used: Chandler Hallett.
Attendance: 1,461

Next up for Taunton is a trip to play-off contenders Merthyr Town, on Tuesday, January 1 (ko 3pm).