Ground #: 59
Ground: Wordsworth Drive
Competition: FA Trophy Preliminary Round
Kick Off: 3pm
Taunton Town 2
Blake 23’, Marsh 41’
Hungerford Town 2
Davis 43’, Boardman 78’
Normally around this time of year I would be looking for new grounds back up in the North as I head back to Viva Las Lancaster. However, as a poor jobless graduate, I am stuck down here and so wanted to get out the house for a day and go to an FA Trophy game. As the train journey to Sherborne worked so well last week, I repeated the same journey along the Tarka Lane to travel not that far, to Taunton.
Taunton is the county town of Somerset and is home to quite a lot as well as over 1000 years of religious and military history. The town name comes from “the town on the River Tone” or Tone Town and has seen a Saxon monastery, a War of the Roses Battle and a siege in the Civil War. It also has many major landmarks such as Taunton Castle, 40 Commando – the Royal Marines and the County Ground, home of Somerset Cricket Ground. Taunton is also a key stopping point in the area for coaches and trains before heading down to the crazy deep South-west. And I arrived in Taunton in the morning to head around the shops, check the independent comic book shop out (a new nerd hobby of mine) and grab a bite to eat while getting updates of a textbook “how to grab a defeat from the jaws of victory” with Hearts vs Rangers.
I arrived at Wordsworth Drive at around 2pm and got some pictures of the cracking ground. Easily the best ground I’ve visited this season. It has cover on all 4 sides, with two seated stands running down the long sides of the pitch. Behind both goals is standing under cover and good views all around the pitch. The food is served by a burger van but I had already had my lunch in town so I can’t comment on the quality. The clubhouse/bar is also great and I had a nice pint of Blackthorns while Wigan vs Wolves played out their conclusion. Wordsworth Drive is a cracking little ground and with it being within easy walking distance from Taunton station and the town centre, should be one to visit A.S.A.P.
Taunton Town have had an excellent recent history after dropping out of the Southern League to return to the Western League in 1983. They re-joined the Southern League 20 years later and in that time, won the Premier Division 4 times, finished in the Top 3 another 6 times and even won the FA Vase in 2000-01 after beating Berkhamstead Town 2-1 at Villa Park. Since re-joining the level they clearly belong at, a promotion tilt to the Southern Premier hasn’t really been coming with only one unsuccessful play-off campaign coming in 2006-07. In fact, relegation battles have been more common for Taunton with a finish of 18th last season and 20th the season before hand, a struggle to avoid the Western Premier have been achieved, just. This season though, seemed to be a major improvement as Taunton were currently in 7th place and outside the play-offs on goal difference. However, they had played more games than anyone else in the league, so expect them to be flying down the table soon. Hungerford haven’t played since last weeks win at Sherborne, so not really much to add on them!
The game kicked off with both sides having good spells of possession before not seeing the ball for long spells. This was arguably a weaker Hungerford side than the one I saw the previous Saturday, with 4 players missing from that squad due to holidays and weddings. Their top player from Sherborne though, Dijak John was captain for the day and his pace gave the Taunton defence problems early on. And Hungerford hit the post early on too as Jemel Johnson had a shot deflected onto the tip of a post. Yet on 23 minutes Taunton opened the scoring with a textbook version of the counter attack. A long punt up field eventually found its way to James Blake who was all alone on the edge of the area. As Hungerford appealed for offside (he wasn’t) Blake ignored these calls and drilled an excellent shot past James Foster to put the home side 1-0 up. This stunned Hungerford who had the best of the play so far and Taunton capitalised on this by battering them. After missing a few glorious chances, the home side did make it 2-0 on 41 minutes when a header was flicked on over the Hungerford defence and Rodney Marsh struggled off the challenge from the last man and slipped the ball under Foster. That scoreline was a tad harsh on Hungerford and so just before half-time they got a deserved goal when Ryan Crockford whipped a cross in from well outside the area and Scott Davis’ header looped over Chris Astley in the Taunton net and gave Hungerford a lifeline going into the 2nd half.
Within minutes of the 2nd half starting, Hungerford were denied a penalty which for all the World looked clear cut. Anthony Alleyne broke through and managed to get the ball around Astley before he clearly whipped Alleyne down but no penalty was given. Strange. Taunton didn’t heed the warning as they were the 2nd best side for all of this half and only had one opportunity of note when Marsh could only fire against Foster’s legs. Most of the half was Hungerford battering the Taunton goal as they got closer and closer to an equalizer. That goal finally came 12 minutes from time as from a Taunton corner, Jon Boardman beat Astley to the ball in the air and headed into an empty net. Astley was furious that he had been fouled, but from where I was he had just been beaten in the air and wanted a scape goat. Hungerford then sadly turned nasty as both sides went for the win and the foul language and awful tackling came back. Hungerford were lucky not to end the game with 10 men after an awful, crude tackle from behind when Taunton were counter attacking, yet the away defender only got away with a yellow. No side could find another breakthrough and so it ended as a draw and a replay to come at Hungerford.
That game was played this evening and sadly Hungerford snatched a late winner to beat Taunton 1-0 and go through to the 1st Qualifying Round where they will play Cinderford Town after they dispatched of Mangotsfield Utd. An entertaining day, although sadly the good side didn’t win, but it was well worth the trip to Wordsworth Drive – a cracking little Southern League ground.
- Match: 7/10 (good entertainment)
- Value for money: 6/10 (the norm for this round)
- Ground: 8/10 (cracking little ground)
- Atmosphere: 5/10 (a tad flat)
- Food: N/A – didn’t have any
- Programme: 5.5/10 (as average as a programme can be)
- Referee: Ian Roberts – 4/10 (weak)