HARTLEY Wintney beat visiting Southern League Premier South leaders Taunton Town 3-1 as the hard work of the club’s ground staff was rewarded.

The Row gave debuts to former Basingstoke Town man Mitchell Parker as well as QPR under-23 pair Joe Felix and Mickel Platt.

The first half saw the home side start well and on 21 minutes a cross come shot from the left by Steven Duff drifted just past the post.

The Peacocks first effort did not arrive until the 42 minutes. A throw on the left enabled Ryan Brett to cross and Matt Wright headed wide.

The Row then had two one-on-one situations but Mitchell Parker and Mickel Platt were denied by visitors Taunton goalkeeper Lloyd Irish.

The Peacocks were first to show in the second period and a snap shot from Brett went narrowly past the post.

The Row responded and the lively Parker created a chance which saw his effort blocked, The ball rebounded to Steven Duff who shot over. Hartley continued to press and were rewarded on 59 minutes. Jack French managed to force his way through the middle.

A defender slipped enabling the Row midfielder to run on and curl a shot beyond Irish.

The Peacocks responded and a free kick in a good position from Ed Palmer went over the crossbar.

If Hartley’s goal was helped by the conditions, Taunton’s equaliser was also fortuitous.

On 62 minutes a corner on the right from Brett looked like a safe catch for Row goalkeeper Adam Desbois.

However, the young goalkeeper slipped and the ball trundled into the net.

Hartley pressed hard to regain the lead. On 67 minutes good play between Dan Stewart and Mickel Platt saw the latter’s shot parried by Irish.

The Row continued to knock on the door and two minutes later Jack French set up Dan Stewart who saw his effort blocked.

The Row quickly regained possession and restored their lead on 67 minutes. After a good move down the left enabled Duff to send over an inch perfect cross. Mickel Platt was at the back post to head home.

The Peacocks finished strongly and Desbois atoned for his slip by pulling off a good save from substitute Dan Sullivan on 73 minutes.

Hartley responded and on 83 minutes Duff had a fine shot saved by Irish.

The Peacocks pushed forward and a minute later Sullivan’s snap shot found Desbois well positioned to save. The visitors thought they had equalised for an instant, but Andrew Neal’s shot just grazed the post.

The visitors created another chance and Matt Buse saw an effort saved by a well-positioned Desbois. At the other end another effort from Duff saw Irish bring out a good save by tipping over the bar.

The Row made the game safe in added time. Good interplay between Dan Stewart and Jack French set up Josh Webb who curled in a good shot from 18-yards.

Both sides deserve enormous credit for producing a good match in very challenging conditions.

After the game, Hartley joint manager Anthony Millerick said: “Following recent matches we planned not to get involved in a physical battle. Hence despite the conditions we set out to move the ball quickly and play good football.

“Jack French and Josh Webb over the past two seasons have engendered much of the Hartley spirit. It was on show again today.

He added: “Following our second goal we knew Taunton would come back at us and we had to see the game out. In the last 15 minutes we were always likely to add a third goal.

“I thought the whole team played exceptionally well.

“The three new players settled in well and gave top class performances.

“Delighted with every aspect of today’s team performance and felt it was a good win against a very good team who are worthy league leaders.”

Next for Hartley on Saturday is another home game when Poole Town are the visitors.