Pre-season friendly
Taunton Town 7, Cheltenham Town 0

TAUNTON Town eviscerated a young Cheltenham Town side on Friday night, goal-getter-in-chief Andrew Neal leading the way with a hat-trick.

His two strikes - the second quite extraordinary - made it 2-0 at half-time, and further goals from Jamie Price, Jamie Short, Dan Sullivan and Noah Coppin completed the rout.

With Cheltenham playing Premier League side Leicester City on Saturday, it was a youthful squad deployed by the League Two club, and they were under the cosh from the start.

A couple of early sighters were followed by a goalmouth melee for the ages, on seven minutes - the visitors gave the ball away at the back, Neal's shot was saved by Freddie Lapworth, as was Josh Grant's follow-up, and when Grant cut the ball back to Matt Wright, his effort was cleared off the line.

Wright headed against the post just two minutes later, and the deadlock was broken in the 11th minute.

Shane White's corner was met by Price (the summer signing making his first appearance since re-joining the club), whose header was nodded off the line, Lapworth dropped the cross back in, Ed Palmer then saw a shot blocked, but predator-in-chief Neal was there to fire the Peacocks ahead.

A low free-kick from Ben Adelsbury struck the post, Neal drew a save from Lapworth after cutting in from the left, and Short's angled shot was saved by the keeper's legs - all inside the first 21 minutes!

Cheltenham could not hold out forever, and it was 2-0 in the 26th minute, courtesy of a quite special goal.

The outstanding Ollie Chamberlain - who seemed to cover every blade of grass in the first half - won the ball and found Wright, who sent Neal clear down the right on the counter-attack; the striker spotted the keeper off his line, finding the net with a sumptuous lobbed finish from 35 yards.

The hosts remained well on top, showing plenty of sharp passing and clever movement, and with Wright heading wide from a good position, Cheltenham could be thankful it was only 2-0 at the break.

Chances kept coming for Wright after the interval, the skipper shooting straight at Lapworth when clean through, and stretching to meet a Neal cross-shot but failing to make contact.

Price made it 3-0 on 57 minutes, heading in at the back post from White's corner, and after substitute Sullivan draw another save from the visiting keeper, Neal completed his hat-trick in the 64th minute.

The ball fell invitingly for Short in the box, his venomous effort was parried by Lapworth, and Neal was on the spot to tuck in the rebound.

Not that holding a comfortable lead stopped the hosts from seeking further goals; Price beat the keeper to a cross but headed wide, and on 80 minutes his fellow returnee Short smashed in a half-volley from the edge of the box which Lapworth could only help on its way into the corner.

Charlie Stanton struck the woodwork at the other end, but Taunton's sixth goal came with five minutes to go, Sullivan getting into the box to slide home from a counter-attack.

And Coppin finished off a magnificent attacking display with the seventh, as Jack Rice was taken out on the edge of the box, the referee played advantage, and Coppin tapped in from Sullivan's lofted ball across the goal.

Taunton Town: Lloyd Irish, Pierce Mitchell (Luke Manley 68), Shane White, Ben Adelsbury (Lewis Hall 46), Ed Palmer, Jamie Price, Ollie Chamberlain, Jamie Short, Matt Wright (c) (Jack Rice 63), Josh Grant (Dan Sullivan 46), Andrew Neal (Noah Coppin 75). Sub not used: James Sleaman-Keane.

Next up for Taunton is a home match with Yeovil Town on Tuesday (ko 7.45pm).