TAUNTON Town head of football Rob Dray hailed his side’s ability to “win ugly” after they picked up a vital three points against Poole Town.

The 1-0 success, sealed by Andrew Neal’s goal after just 42 seconds, ended a four-match winless streak and kept the Peacocks just two points adrift of Weymouth at the top of the table.

READ MORE: As it happened - Peacocks back to winning ways

Dray said: “It was never going to be pretty. The pitches are drying out a bit and there was a lot on it for both teams.

“We showed a lot of character today and I’m really impressed with the boys. There are a lot of things we’ve been asking of them recently and they delivered today.

“Winning ugly in this division is fantastic. I prefer to see those sometimes, especially with a clean sheet. With our firepower, we’ve always got a chance when we keep a clean sheet.

“It was a great start. After a couple of weeks where we’ve fallen behind, it was nice to get in front so early as then everyone can settle down and start passing the ball a bit better.”

Town reverted to a back three, which often became a back five, for Saturday’s match and Dray was pleased with the defensive efforts of his side.

“They had a lot of the ball and they are a good side with an ex-Football League striker, a lot of lads on loan from Bournemouth and Marvin Brooks, who is one of the best players in this league,” he said.

“They are no mugs and they are fifth for a reason. They are a Conference South side in all but league position, so it’s a great win.

“We were down to the bare bones today. Sully [Dan Sullivan] was struggling with injury and Keith [Emmerson] pulled a hamstring for the Army in midweek.

“To get better players in is difficult at the moment unless you have loads of money, but we got through it.

“Let’s get to the last week. There are three games in the last week because of Easter, so let’s get to that and see where we are – then it’s pressure time.

Player ratings

Lloyd Irish – 7

The goalkeeper missed last weekend’s defeat at Frome but returned to put in an assured performance.

Wasn’t overly tested but produced two key saves in the second half to deny James Constable and Jez Bedford, respectively.

Pierce Mitchell – 7

Operating in a wing-back role, Mitchell was more prominent in a defensive rather than attacking role as Poole had the better of possession.

Made some vital clearances and interceptions in the second half as Town dug in, most notably clearing off the line to deny a lurking Constable after Bedford’s shot was saved.

Lewis Hall – 6

The wing-back on the other side had a quieter game but carried out his duties diligently.

There remains a sense that, a screamer and fine performance at home to Salisbury aside, Taunton are yet to truly see the best of the talented Hall – hopefully that can come between now and the end of the season.

Josh Nelmes – 7

Deputising for the suspended Ben Adelsbury, Nelmes relished the physical battle against former Football League frontman Constable and, by and large, came out on top.

Won plenty of aerial duels, made several vital challenges and put in an assured display to enhance his chances of retaining a more regular starting berth.

Ed Palmer – 7

Like Nelmes, Palmer was a solid presence on a good afternoon for the middle three in the back five.

Reliable in the air and used the ball better than his defensive colleagues, attempting to keep it on the floor where possible.

Shane White – 7

You know what you are going to get from Shane White, wherever he plays, and Taunton’s Mr Reliable put in another no-nonsense shift against the Dolphins.

Seems to suit playing on the right of a back three more than at right-back in a back four and was crucial in helping Town see the game out.

Matt Buse – 6

A typically energetic display but, as in recent home games, Buse was perhaps not involved on the ball as much as he would have liked as the hosts often went long.

When he did have it, the results were mixed – some fine passes and he nearly scored twice in the first half, but a sloppy piece of play in his own half almost led to Bedford equalising.

Ollie Chamberlain – 6

The local lad never shirks the battle in midfield and again did the dirty work, winning tackles and breaking up the play.

One surging run in the first half got Taunton moving again after a lacklustre spell and he was denied what would have been a cracking goal by the goalkeeper.

Ryan Brett – 6

The midfielder’s quick thinking set up the early goal, with his free-kick putting Neal through.

Was not as influential as he often is thereafter, but did what he had to do in a defensive and attacking sense and helped wind the clock down with some intelligent work towards the end.

Matt Wright – 6

As always, Wright was Taunton’s battering ram and found himself involved in a real ding-dong battle with the opposing centre-halves.

Won his fair share in the air and was perhaps unfortunate not to earn a couple more free-kicks. Was denied an end to his goal drought by an offside flag but the finish was confidently taken – it will surely not be long until the skipper is back in the goals.

Andrew Neal – 7

A fine finish from the frontman inside the first minute ended up sealing the points, and Neal continues to offer plenty more than just goals.

Hassled and harried throughout and saw several goalbound efforts well blocked by defenders.


Dan Sullivan (for Wright, 77); Craig Veal (for Buse, 88); Lucas Tomlinson (for Neal, 90) – N/A