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Tonbridge Angels 0
3 Taunton Town
Morgan (7', 26'), McCootie (68')

Angels feel the heat

Taunton Town returned home convincing winners after the Halcyon Wealth Longmead Stadium had sweltered in 33degC of September sunshine.

Jay Saunders had to shuffle a threadbare squad with captain Scott Wagstaff suspended, Lewis Gard failing a late fitness test and Jernade Meade continuing to be away on international duty. Ruben Soares-Junior returned to the starting XI with two Academy players, Hayden Velvick and Noah Millis taking places on the bench.

Despite the Angels striking a post through Soares-Junior within the first two minutes, it was the visitors, who took a seventh minute lead before going on to largely control the first half.

Ben Swift gave up possession inside his own half for Dylan Morgan to run on and fire across the face of goalkeeper Jonny Henly into the far, left hand corner to give the Somerset county town side the lead.

Taunton, who came into the game in a confident mood following a fine start to the season, took the game to their hosts and might have doubled their advantage when a header from Nick Grimes following a free kick lofted into the box was narrowly wide.

Referee Abigail Byrne sensibly utilised injury stoppages as water breaks as the heat was unrelenting.

Morgan flashed a shot across the face of goal before, after 26 minutes, a poor throw out from Henly landed at the feet of Zak Smith who quickly sent Morgan clear to double Taunton’s advantage.

The Angels fought to work their way back into the game before the break with Jordan Greenidge failing to get any purchase on a couple of headers and Ibby Akanbi bringing a save from Dan Lavercombe.

The home side showed their intent early in the second period when Akanbi shot wide and, on 48 minutes, a shot from Soares-Junior came back off the crossbar only for Akanbi to plant a weak header at Lavercombe.

After having the majority of the early second half play, Kodi Lyons-Foster misjudged a ball on the right touchline that allowed Taunton’s Nick McCootie to stride on to plant a shot past Henly within a minute of entering the game as a 66th minute substitute.

As both sides wilted in the extreme heat, Taunton did precisely what was needed to see the game to its conclusion whilst the Angels produced just a couple of glimpses, through Joe Turner and Akanbi, of a consolation goal.

A disappointed Jay Saunders said after the game: "We did a lot wrong in the final third. I take nothing away from Taunton but we have gifted them three goals ... We've probably had more chances in the last couple of home games than we had at Slough [where we scored five]. I don't want to make excuses, it's a tough one to take. I want to be putting on a performance for the home fans and we are not doing it. There's no point in sulking, we will take criticism no doubt but we will move and work hard before Saturday's FA Cup game at Haringey."

Published Saturday 9th September 2023 (last updated Sunday 10th September 2023)