TAUNTON Town have lost the services of their two top strikers.

Aaron Blakemore and Ryan Havard, who arrived at Wordsworth Drive in December, have both joined Southern League Premier Division sides.

Blakemore has signed for Yate Town, who he declined to join in the regular season, while Havard has moved to Division One West champions Clevedon Town.

Their loss will be a huge blow to Taunton, who play in the Southern League's re-organised Division One South and West next season.

They played a major part in Taunton's resurgence last season and both scored in their 3-2 victory over Mangotsfield Utd in the Somerset Premier Cup Final.

According to Taunton manager Gary Domone, Blakemore, who hit 19 goals after arriving from Bideford where he struggled to hold down a first team place, attracted attention from almost every Premier Division club.

Yate, who finished just outside the Premier Division play-offs, eventually won the race for his signature.

Havard, who joined Taunton from Western Legue side Weston St John, was also tracked by a number of Premier Division clubs before opting for Clevedon.

Taunton manager Gary Domone, who brought both to the club, was obviously disappointed to lose the duo but said he could not stand in their way. "Both players go with my blessing," he said.

"They have been excellent servants to the club and cannot be blamed for wanting to play at a higher level.

"Neither wanted to leave and were grateful to be given the chance at this level. I've told them they will be more than welcome to return if things don't work out at their new clubs.

"They will be very difficult to replace but life goes on and we will get new players in."

Domone said he is already in the process of finding replacements and is on the verge of signing "six or seven" players.

Domone, who replaced Peter Beadle as manager of Taunton in October, has yet to decide whether he wants to continue in charge next season.

l TAUNTON Town will play 15 new sides in the revamped Southern League Division One South and West next season, with the emphasis on the London area rather than the Midlands.

Division 1 South and West: Abingdon United, Andover, Bashley, Bracknell Town, Beaconsfield, Brook House, Burnham, Chesham United, Didcot Town, Hanwell Town, Hillingdon Borough, Lymington and New Milton, Marlow, Newport (I o W), Oxford City, Paulton Rovers, Swindon Suprmarine, Taunton Town, Uxbridge, Winchester City, Windsor and Eton.

l WORK has begun to improve the playing surface at Taunton Town's Wordsworth Drive. Manager Gary Domone also plans to have the pitch widened.