FA Cup Preview | Merthyr Town vs. Taunton Town
15 September 2023
Merthyr Town continue their Emirates FA Cup campaign against National League South side Taunton Town on Friday Night (7.45pm).
The Martyrs face the Peacocks in an enthralling encounter as both sides aim to reach their First Round heights achieved last season.
OPPOSITION FOCUS | IN THE DUGOUT
Rob Dray joined the club in the summer of 2016, being appointed to the backroom team as coach. He has a wealth of experience in the non-league game, originally being a player and manager of Bridgwater Town Reserves in the Somerset County League.
He stepped up to manage Bridgwater Town’s first team at the start of the 2010-11 season but a poor run of results saw his departure from Fairfax Park in March 2012 before he became assistant manager to Sean Joyce at Southern Premier new boys Bideford in the summer of that year.
After three seasons in North Devon, he left to have a short spell at Yate Town in 2015 but took a break from the game for the majority of the 2015-16 season.
Upon joining the Peacocks, he became part of the successful management team that guided the team to the FA Cup 1st Round Proper and the Southern League West Division title in consecutive seasons.
He then assumed the role of interim manager in September 2018 following the departure of Leigh Robinson before being appointed Head of Football a month later, leading the Peacocks to a tremendous second-place finish in their first-ever season at Southern Premier level.
After two seasons curtailed due to Covid, he achieved his finest moment when guiding the Peacocks to the Southern Premier South title in 2021, a feat which earned promotion to the National League South for the first time in the club’s history. Despite a crippling injury list, he steered the club to a highly respectable 14th place finish in their debut season.
OPPOSITION FOCUS | SEASON SO FAR
The Peacocks have enjoyed a strong start to the National League South season winning five of their opening nine league games. Goals from Nick Grimes and Ross Stearn guided Dray’s side to an opening-day win against Braintree Town on 5 August.
Since then the Peacocks have gained wins against Welling United, ST Albans and most recently Tonbridge Angels. The away side currently sit fifth in the league table on 14 points having scored 16 goals so far.
OPPOSITION FOCUS | KEY PLAYER
Ross Stearn is a vastly experienced goalscoring midfielder who joined the Peacocks in November 2021 after being released from Chippenham Town due to financial constraints. He began his career at Bristol City before leaving to join Forest Green Rovers in the summer of 2009 for a brief spell. He then signed for Weston-super-Mare in September 2009 until switching to Almondsbury Town at the start of 2010. A move to Chippenham Town followed in the summer of 2011 and Stearn then spent the following season back at Weston-super-Mare.
He then signed for Bath City ahead of the 2013-14 season, spending two years at Twerton Park where he registered 28 goals, before linking up with National League South side Sutton United in the summer of 2015 where he helped them win promotion. Ross then departed to join Eastleigh in November 2016 for a year until returning to Sutton towards the end of 2017. He spent a loan period at Bath City in the early part of 2018 before signing permanently for City again in the 2018 close season, enjoying another two seasons with Bath until joining Chippenham in the summer of 2020. He finished as the club’s second-highest goalscorer in 2022-23 which included the first ever Peacocks’ hat trick in the National League.
Merthyr Town - W W W W W L
Taunton Town - W W D W D W
PAST MEETING | MARTYRS vs. PEACOCKS
A memorable fixture for the Martyrs against Taunton Town came back in February 2020 at Penydarren Park, when a stunning hat-trick from Eliot Richards along with an Ian Traylor strike saw the Martyrs claim a 4-2 victory against the Peacocks in the Southern League Premier South.
HOW TO FOLLOW
If you’re not able to make it to the game at Penydarren Park, you can keep up with the action by following live, play-by-play updates on our Twitter page.
Peacocks radio will be providing live commentary of the game from 7.40pm. The game will be live here - https://ttfc.uk/peacocks-radio
BBC Radio Wales will also be broadcasting live from the club, with Rob Phillips providing live updates of the game on Radio Wales Sport from 7pm. Listen here - https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m001qc77