A scintillating first-half performance earned Frome a thoroughly deserved win at Barnstaple Town on Saturday that saw them return to the top of the Southern League Division One South table.
Matt Smith scoring directly from a corner for the second game in succession was complemented by strikes from James Ollis, Mike Baker and Kane Simpson, as the Robin’s enjoyed their afternoon in the Devonshire sunshine.
They made the perfect start to the game, as with less than a minute on the clock, Ollis had raced in behind the home side’s defence and angled a shot perfectly into the far corner of the net.
The confidence with which he tucked home the effort belied the fact that it was the forward’s first league goal since New Year’s Day.
Frome were largely content to allow the home side to have the ball following their strong start, but Barnstaple struggled to test James Carey in goal and it was in fact the Robins who looked more dangerous on the counter-attack.
One such counter ended with Kane Simpson winning his side a corner on the left wing in the 20th minute. Up stepped Smith to rubbish any suggestions that his goal against Cinderford last weekend had been a fluke, whipping the ball over the goalkeeper and across the goal-line before a Barnstaple defender could clear.
It was from an opposition corner that Danny Greaves’ side nearly extended their lead further. Simpson and Ollis linked up excellently after the set-piece had been cleared before the latter shot straight at the ‘keeper despite having the whole goal to aim at.
They did find a third before the break though. After Ollis had seen his initial header expertly saved, Mike Baker was on hand to nod home his first goal for the club after Barnstaple had failed to properly clear Alex Monks’ dangerous ball into the box.
It did not take long for Frome to re-find their rhythm in the second period either. A fabulous passage of play started with Simpson releasing Ollis down the right wing,before charging into the penalty area to get on the end of a cross from his strike partner, and placing a shot into the top corner in the 51st minute.
The home side had begun the second half with greater intensity, and they did pull a goal back not long after Simpson’s goal when striker Harry Baker was on hand to slot into the net after the ball bounced loose in the box.
Simpson thought he had scored again directly from the resulting restart, but the referee’s assistant deemed that his delicate chip had not crossed the line before a defender hacked clear.
Even though the home side continued to improve as the game meandered towards a conclusion, Frome rarely looked like allowing their lead to be reduced any further, and only a handful of excellent saves from Barnstaple ‘keeper Arthur stopped them from recording a more comfortable margin of victory.
The three-goal win was enough to send Greaves’ men back to the top of the league table though, as Cirencester’s draw at Cinderford means that both the Robins and the Centurions are currently level on points and goal difference, with Frome’s superior number of goals scored putting them out in front.
The Robins are back in action next Saturday, with Evesham United visiting Badgers Hill.