Spirited display from Taunton District Schools FA

Taunton District Schools FA gave it their all before bowing to defeat in a terrific national ESFA Playstation under-13 Inter-Association Cup tie away against their Swansea District Schools counterparts.

The first-round contest, played out at the splendid Llandarcy Academy of Sport facility in Neath, began with the Welsh hosts moving the ball around well, although Taunton did find a few areas to exploit.

However with the visitors being a little naive and new to each other, big spaces were left uncovered which Swansea took full advantage of.

Ten minutes in they took the lead, cutting quickly through uncovered spaces to give away keeper Hawkins little chance.

As Taunton failed to learn lessons from that, Swansea’s second goal came shortly after as a flank attack and cross was perfect for their striker to rise and triumphantly finish.

Taunton fought back well and Adam Willis set up skipper Lewis Smith on the edge of the box to fire in a shot the home keeper couldn’t keep out to make it 2- 1 and all to play for.

With Will Cooper and Tyler Barrett now thrust into the fray, the Somerset boys started to settle into a better shape as they naturally took up positions requiring solidity.

Swansea still managed a few purposeful attacks and shots of their own which Hawkins was this time equal to, while at the other end Bidgeway and Parsons found themselves better supported by the two introductions.

Will Varney also came on to good effect so it came as a blow that his team conceded a third goal just before half-time as Swansea countered with real pace.

Having not taken enough care on an attack of their own and playing a square ball which was intercepted, the Welshmen raced clear to restore their two-goal cushion.

In a bid to find a way back Archie Clark was moved into a more central position for Taunton while Cooper was again solid in midfield and Rhys Wall, Parsons, Bidgeway, Barrett and Warner, who was pitched between the sticks, looked better equipped to deal with their hosts.

For a good period they provided Swansea with a real test. Clark looked mobile in drawing both Swansea centre-halves while Willis, now operating wide, proved a handful and Billington and Smith worked away to create chances.

That positive approach bore fruit as Cooper set Smith away to jink past his marker and release Clark, who chased down a through ball to find himself facing an onrushing Swansea keeper.

The ricochet between the two players, with one looking to score and the other out to clear his lines, fell to Gabriel Billington who had followed up Smith’s forward pass. With a bit to do still Billington struck the ball sweetly at an angle and into the net to reduce the arrears to 3-2 and put Taunton right back into the game.

The next ten minutes saw the visitors pushing for an equaliser. Bewes came back on and showed his intelligence while Stone took up a more advanced role. Clark was getting into his stride too and a good reflection of how well the team can play was evident.

From a positive Keaney run, Taunton might have done better with Bewes in a good position to receive a pass and instead Swansea, similar to the first half pattern, countered with pace and precision. Having been in a good attacking position themselves, Taunton’s players were committed upfield and unable to stop the goal which effectively sealed the game.

Swansea went on to add another goal to wrap up a 5-2 victory as their opponents continued to gamble.
Nevertheless there were plenty of positives for Taunton to take from the experience, not least the performance of ‘Man of the Match’ Cooper who, having come on to steady the central zone, showed good awareness and desire which aided the team considerably.

So it’s on to the next match as Taunton District Schools look forward to meeting Yeovil District Schools tomorrow at their Bridgwater & Taunton College Team BTC HQ.

This article first appeared in the Independent. To get the latest articles when they appear, buy the print edition every Sunday or subscribe to our online edition HERE.