Next Match – Taunton Town (A)

City will be hoping to ruffle the Peacocks’ feathers this Monday at the Somerset Campervan Company Stadium.

Taunton Town will be seeing a lot of that venue this month. With several postponements across February and March, they still have six home games to squeeze in between now and 20 April. Truro City’s planned groundshare in South Somerset has been shelved with the Cornish outfit unable to fulfil any fixtures there due to a rain-affected surface.

Rob Dray’s men have the games in hand to secure survival in a turbulent year with well-documented off-the-field issues. The lack of revenue has been widely reported and resulted in players being paid late. Several departed around Christmas, including former City forwards Nick McCootie and Dave Sims-Burgess, and it coincided with a dreadful spell of three months without a league win. That finally ended with fine successes at Worthing and Torquay in March which looked like the perfect springboard, but four consecutive losses since have left the Peacocks hovering around the bottom four. On Friday they were thrashed 4-0 by an equally off-colour Weston-super-Mare. They’ll be hoping it’s not a stereotypical second season syndrome – last year’s first venture into National League South saw them finish a respectable 14th, again in a campaign blighted by cancellations.

Monday’s hosts boast a squad packed with experience – a lot of it with the Stripes. Seven of Taunton’s current crop made 570 outings combined for City. The stand-out is Dan Ball, who enjoyed a decade at Twerton Park before switching Somerset teams in the summer of 2022. He’s spent most of this season playing in front of Dan Lavercombe, but the goalkeeper sustained a hairline leg fracture during the win at Torquay. The experienced Lloyd Irish has replaced him – the keen cricketer was granted a testimonial with his brother Owen two years ago with Somerset and England spin bowler Jack Leach in charge of one of the sides. Irish has competition for his place from Jake Viney, signed on dual reg with Western League Wellington, but he didn’t feature on Friday.

City’s own stopper, Will Buse, won promotion with Taunton two years ago. He made his debut against Town last October, marked with a clean sheet in a 3-0 win, rubber-stamped by Dan Greenslade’s wonder strike. It gained revenge for last year’s 2-0 loss on Good Friday.

There will be a supporters coach to Taunton. Come along and support your team over this Easter double-header!