MANAGER Stuart Henderson hailed a ‘best performance of the season’ as Tavi underlined their Toolstation Western League Premier Division title credentials with a stunning 4-2 win at promotion rivals Shepton Mallet.
A devastating first half saw the Lambs create a plethora of chances, taking three of those, but some sloppy play at the other end allowed Shepton to score with their only two efforts of the first half.
Led by the imperious Lewis Daw, Tavi were much tighter after the break and added to their tally when Liam Prynn bagged his second of the game – and 19th of the season – to complete a stunning win.
“I was delighted with the way we played,” Henderson said. “I thought the first half was the best we have played, we literally could have been four or five-nil up, but they have had two chances and, to be fair to them, scored two goals. The second one was a great finish from the lad. But it was 3-2 at half-time and could have been five or six.
“Second half, we were going up the slope and it was all about game management really. I didn’t think, apart from a couple of long range efforts, they created too much and Prynny has gone and stuck one in the top bins from 25 yards, so you have to be happy.
“It’s a tough place to come, we won 4-2 and it’s a good three points on the road.”
After making five changes to the side that drew 2-2 with Exmouth – Tyler Coombes replaced Josh Oak in goal and Lewis Daw, Josh Robins, Teigan Rosenquest and Josh Grant came in for Iestyn Harris, Cory Sargent, Josh Parry and Luke Brown – it was one of those returning that opened the scoring inside the opening minute.
There didn’t appear to be too much on when Dan Koita’s cross was headed as far as Josh Robins and he let fly with a beautiful left-footed volley from 25 yards that flew into the far corner – and got the Tavi bench into trouble!
“The referee told us off for running onto the pitch!” Henderson added.
The goalscorer, returning from a three-match suspension following his harsh red card in the 0-0 draw at Helston Athletic, added: “I’m fed up of talking about it to be honest!
“No, it’s one of them where I am 25 yards out, the ball has dropped down and I just wanted to get a good contact on it. Luckily, I got a good contact and it flew into the bottom corner.
“It’s been a long three weeks for me because I don’t like missing games, but I am just buzzing to get back. We were unreal and it was a very good performance. It doesn’t happen too often when I get on the scoresheet, but it was a good way to mark my return.”
After that early goal, the relentless nature of Tavi’s attacking play did not stop. Jake Miller saw a shot scrambled behind, Prynn shot into the side netting and volleyed another over from six yards and Josh Grant fired against the base of the post after a lovely flowing move.
Even Ben Cross tried his luck from distance, forcing the keeper to keep his long-range effort out, but suddenly, it was 1-1 when Shepton equalised completely against the run of play.
Parity lasted just three minutes, though, as Koita took down Callum Watson’s lovely cross-field pass and teed up Prynn, who curled a first time shot into the far corner from 18 yards.
Warren Daw saw another effort saved before Shepton levelled once more, but again, Tavi’s response was instant.
Jake Miller surged forward from midfield and slipped a lovely pass to Koita, who finished in style to make it 3-2 – and three goals in three games for him personally.
The second half was more even, with Shepton having the conditions in their favour, but other than a long range shot, which Coombes tipped over the bar, and a close range header that went over the top, Shepton rarely threatened.
It was left to Prynn to finish things off as he curled a delightful shot from the corner of the penalty box over the head of the keeper and into the far corner to complete the scoring.
Next up is a trip to Cadbury Heath on Saturday, November 13 with Wednesday’s Bayside Graphics Devon Challenge Cup game against Dartmouth now postponed. Dartmouth pulled out of the competition handing Tavi a walkover and an easy passage through to the quarter-finals.