TAUNTON Town are looking to bounce back from last weekend’s FA Cup exit as they head to Metropolitan Police on Saturday (ko 3pm).

The Peacocks’ 2-1 defeat to National League South side Havant & Waterlooville was their fifth game in 14 days, and head of football Rob Dray admitted his side “needed a break to regroup” in midweek.

“It’s not just the playing, the travel takes its toll as well,” he added.

Ed Palmer is set to return to the squad for Saturday, after being unavailable last weekend, which is a welcome boost.

His fellow defenders have been in the wars lately, with Ben Adelsbury carrying a knock, Jamie Price having a back complaint and Nick Grimes picking up a knee injury – the latter remaining a doubt for the upcoming match.

Hosts Met Police won home and away against Taunton last season, on their way to winning the play-off final at the end of the season.

But, after failing to win the ‘Super’ play-off final against Isthmian League play-off winners Tonbridge Angels, and therefore not being promoted, Met Police have lost several key players – albeit leading goalscorer Jack Mazzone remains.

Dray added: “They have lost some players, but that happens when you have a bit of success.

“It’s a long journey for us, and a tough place to go.

“We’ve lost one of our last nine [against Havant] but we’ve got to be on it and we’ve got to get the result.”

Opposition in focus

ORDINARILY, Taunton Town’s next fixture would not exist.

Last season, Metropolitan Police beat Salisbury and Poole Town in the play-offs – but were not promoted.

That’s because they lost the ‘Super’ play-off final, 3-2 at home to Tonbridge Angels, and so Southern League Premier Division South is where they remain.

They’ve lost a load of players, too – the vultures circling after their successful season ended in disappointment – but they have held on to Jack Mazzone.

Mazzone ended last season with 22 league goals, three of those coming against Taunton.

Met Police did the double over the Peacocks in 2018/19, winning the home match 4-1 thanks to goals from Ethan Chislett (2), Max Blackmore and Mazzone, and then triumphing 3-1 in Taunton – Mazzone (2) and Chislett on target.

September’s 4-1 scoreline rather flattered the hosts, who took their chances while the Peacocks missed the numerous opportunities they created, but Taunton boss Rob Dray admitted his side “didn’t do themselves justice” in April’s return match.

So there is plenty of motivation for Town to put things right this time around, and they won’t have to deal with Blackmore, who was signed by Westfield after knocking in 20 league goals for Met Police last term.

Midfielder Chislett, meanwhile, jumped up two divisions to join Aldershot Town in the National League.

Met Police have clung on to their manager – Gavin Macpherson, who did so well with limited resources last year – but have made a patchy start this season.

They’ve lost four of eight league matches – against Truro City, Hartley Wintney, Merthyr Town and Walton Casuals – with all four of those defeats coming at Imber Court, the venue for this Saturday’s fixture.

Away from home, they are unbeaten – drawing at Hendon, and winning at Blackfield & Langley, Beaconsfield Town and Salisbury.

The league is looking a bit topsy-turvy this season, with Met Police’s up-and-down form a prime example of that.

But you can safely bet that Dray will have his charges prepared for a tough test this weekend.