Taunton Town 1 Swans 0

Saturday 1st October 2022.                                             FA Cup, 3rd Qualifying Round.

Taunton Town 1    Walton & Hersham 0.

After eight matches, including three replays, Swans’ enthralling FA Cup run finally came to an end in Somerset, but they can again take great credit from the tie. There was little to choose between two sides separated by two divisions, only a free-kick dubiously awarded in first-half stoppage-time deciding the match. As befits their higher status the home side had marginally most of the play, and the better of the chances, but they had to withstand determined pressure from Swans in the latter stages before they were able to celebrate. There may well have been a different outcome if Jordan Adeyemi had converted a great chance to equalise in the second-half.

Swans were unfortunate to lack the services of John Gilbert for the first-time this season, the influential midfielder serving an FA Cup suspension for accumulated yellow cards. Devan Tanton had arrived back too late from Colombian U20 duty to be considered for selection, but Joe Pratley-Jones came back into the side after missing four matches.

On a pitch sporting an excellent playing surface, but with a pronounced slope from one touchline to the other, Swans made a good start, and they had the first opportunity after eight minutes. Adeyemi linked with Arsen Ujkaj on the right, before cutting inside, neatly nutmegging a defender, and sending a left-foot shot wide of the near-post from the corner of the box.

The home side tried a speculative effort from fully 45 yards, but it was well over the goal. Zac Smith then threatened to get clear 25 yards out, but Ujkaj came across to make a fine tackle. Taunton went close to taking the lead after forcing a corner on the right. From Jay Foulston’s kick the ball was headed against the far-post, and a follow-up shot was blocked by Swans’ goalkeeper Liam Allen. The ball broke to the right, and Foulston combined with Ollie Chamberlain, who crossed into the near-post. Smith went down as Pratley-Jones came in with tackle, but the referee wasn’t impressed and signalled a goal-kick. After a positive start by Swans the home side continued to threaten, and they had an opportunity with a free-kick awarded 35 yards out in the middle of the pitch. Lloyd James delivered the ball to the right of the 6 yard-box, where Jake Wannell got in a header, and Allen punched away from the head of Nat Jarvis. The ball was nodded back in to find Wannell on the edge of the box, but he turned to shoot well over the goal.

Pratley-Jones picked the ball up midway inside his own half for Swans before playing it forward to Alex Kelly, who found Eddie Simon on the right. Simon cut into the box before shifting the ball onto his left foot and driving a shot just over. A through ball by Taurean Roberts almost got Adeyemi in on goal, but home keeper Jack Bycroft was quickly out to clear. Swans had come back well, and Simon played a good ball in from the right to Adeyemi, who set up Dominic Ogun on the left, but he could not open up a shot, and was just closed out after getting into the box.

Taunton’s Chamberlain turned on the left corner of the box, but drove a shot well over. Persistent play by the home side around the box led to Joe Budd crossing the ball in from the right, and Jarvis was in the 6 yard-box to get in a downward header that bounced over the goal.

With 33 minutes played Swans had a great opportunity when Simon’s run was ended with a foul five yards outside the left of the box to earn a free-kick. It was an ideal position for Harry Mills, but although his kick beat the right of the wall, there was not enough elevation, and Bycroft was able to get across to save. Ogun set Adeyemi on a good run on the left, and he burst clear before playing the ball inside to Ogun, but he was just closed out.

Taunton again went close when Nick Grimes crossed from deep on the right to pick out Smith coming in at the far-post, but he volleyed well wide. The home side had another free-kick deep in the middle of the pitch. James delivered the ball into the box, and Jarvis got in front of Allen to put a header over from the edge of the 6 yard-box.

With two minutes of normal-time left of the half a fine move by Swans led to Ogun sending Kelly clear on the left to force a corner. From Mills’ kick Joe Hicks was at the far-post to send a header over.

The home side again went close when Foulston and Smith combined on the left and Foulston drove a shot across the 6 yard-box. Jarvis just failed to get a touch at the far-post, but there was a slight deflection and the referee gave a corner, following which he spotted a foul by a Taunton player.

The referee had indicated a minute of added-on time at the end of the half, but play continued to two, and this was to prove crucial to the outcome of the tie. There seemed to be minimal contact by Mills when a Taunton player went down on the left edge of the box, but the referee awarded a free-kick. James drove the kick in low, and although Allen got both hands to the ball down to his left, he could not keep it out of the bottom, right corner. The referee immediately blew his whistle to end the first-half and Taunton to go into the break with a lead.

Mills had picked up an injury, and Josh Millo replaced him for the second-half, with Pratley-Jones switching to the right. Simon was soon playing a fine ball to Adeyemi on the left, but after cutting inside he was closed out.

The home side replied with Chamberlain driving the ball across the goal-face from the right. The same player then turned on the right edge of the box to get in a left foot shot that Allen got behind on his line. A build-up by Taunton on the right again gave Chamberlain an opening, but this time he shot over from just inside the box

Twelve minutes into the half Swans had a great chance to level things up when Simon collected the ball on halfway and played an excellent defence splitting ball to get Adeyemi clear on the left. Adeyemi’s pace left him with just Bycroft to beat, but the Taunton keeper was out to the corner of the 6 yard-box to block his shot.

Kelly was immediately making a fine run forward before finding Millo on the right. The young player cut inside before laying the ball off to Kelly on his left, but he shot wide of the right post. Pratley-Jones then utilised his long throw, launching the ball in from the right, and when it was cleared to Kelly outside the box he had a shot blocked.

Taunton substitute Nick McCootie forced a corner on the right, and another was won when a header from Foulston’s kick was deflected behind.

Swans continued to press for the equaliser, and Adeyemi set up Simon just inside the box to turn and have a shot blocked. A fine build-up then led to Simon setting-up Ogun just outside the box, but he shot over. The ball was then headed clear when Kelly sent in a free-kick from deep on the left touchline. Swans again went close when another Pratley-Jones’ long throw from the right sent the ball bouncing in the 6 yard-box, and keeper Bycroft just managed to claw it away from under his crossbar.

Taunton went close to settling the tie when McCootie was played in on the left to drive a low shot against the far-post.

With just over twenty minutes remaining Swans looked unfortunate not to be awarded a penalty when Simon made a good run on the left. Millo took over in the box and looked to be pulled down, but the referee saw no offence. Millo again looked to be unfortunate when he was found on the edge of the box by a long ball down the middle, and was pushed in the back by Wannell, but the referee again waved play-on. Swans’ substitute Max Blackmore sent Adeyemi on a good run to the byline on the left, but his cross was cleared in the 6 yard-box.

Taunton immediately got to the other end when McCoostie, from inside his own half, found fellow substitute Ross Stearn in space on the right, and when he drove the ball across Smith failed to get enough of a touch on it just outside the 6 yard-box, and it went wide of the far-post. The home side built-up a neat move, and when Chamberlain found Stearns on the right, he got in a strong shot from the corner of the box that Allen did well to beat down at his near-post.

More good play by Swans led to Ogun forcing a corner on the left. From Roberts’ kick Pratley-Jones volleyed the ball back across at the far-post, and Roberts regained possession on the left. He made a tricky run in, and after switching the ball to his left foot he drove in a low shot that Bycroft blocked at his near-post, and the ball was hooked clear. As the match entered the final five minutes Roberts played the ball down the middle to almost get Adeyemi in, but Bycroft was out to clear. With stoppage-time being played Roberts forced a corner on the left, but his kick was defended at the far-post. Swans almost forced a replay with the final play of the match when Ogun got the ball forward to Kelly, who laid it back to Roberts. Roberts found Millo on the left touchline, and he cut into the corner of the box to curl a shot just over the far, top corner. The whistle then blew to signal the end of Swans’ cup run.

Swans’ Team: Liam Allen, Harry Mills (Josh Millo 46’), Joe Pratley-Jones, Alex Kelly, Charlie Nicholas (Ollie Twum 87’). Joe Hicks, Dominic Ogun, Taurean Roberts, Jordan Adeyemi, Eddie Simon, Arsen Ujkaj (Max Blackmore 70’). Subs. not used: Jude Molloy, Flynn Bolton, Maliq Morris, Harvey Sellers. Caution: Roberts, foul (84’).

Taunton Team: Bycroft, Budd, Foulston, Grimes, Ball, Wannell, Chamberlain, James, Jarvis (McCootie 53’), Smith (Lucas 87’), Sims-Burgess (Stearn 56’), Subs. not used: Guest, Warwick, Staley, Irish. Scorer: James (45+3’). Caution: James, foul (81’).