Evo-Stik Southern League Premier Division South

Merthyr Town 3, Taunton Town 1

TAUNTON Town saw their lead at the top cut to six points after starting 2019 with a defeat at Merthyr Town.

The Welsh side were 3-0 up by the 65th minute, with Ed Palmer’s late free-kick nothing more than a consolation as the Peacocks were beaten in the league for just the fifth time this season.

Both sides had chances in the early stages, as Taunton skipper Matt Wright headed wide from Matt Buse’s cross before Shane White cleared a Tom Meechan effort off the line at the other end.

Dan Sullivan fired over from 20 yards and Ben Adelsbury sent a header wide when well positioned, but Merthyr were dominating possession and earned a penalty on 35 minutes when Meechan was brought down by goalkeeper Mike Davies.

Ian Traylor beat Davies from 12 yards and it got worse for the leaders before the break as substitute Owain Jones doubled the lead on the stroke of half-time when a free-kick wasn’t cleared.

Davies denied Ryan Prosser on 52 minutes as the hosts sought a third, which arrived midway through the second period when Jones smashed in his second of the afternoon.

Palmer reduced the arrears with nine minutes to play but Taunton were left to rue a below-par display which they will hope does not set the tone for the year to come.

The chasing pack did not take full advantage, as Weymouth were held to a 2-2 draw at home by Poole Town in ‘El Jurassico’ – the Terras and Salisbury now sit on 42 points, six behind the Peacocks, though Weymouth have two games in hand.

Taunton do not have to wait long to try and bounce back, with Dorchester Town the visitors to Wordsworth Drive on Saturday (3pm).

Taunton Town: Mike Davies, Shane White, Lewis Hall (Craig Veal 57), Ben Adelsbury (Josh Nelmes 57), Ed Palmer, Matt Buse, Ollie Chamberlain, Dan Sullivan, Matt Wright, Keith Emmerson, Andrew Neal