Frome Town succumbed to a 3-1 defeat at the hands of Bath City in the Somerset Premier Cup. After matching the holders for much of the first half, the Romans turned on their flair and, despite a sterling performance in goal by teenage debutant Tom Roberts, scores from Scott Wilson, Ewan Clark and Cody Cooke extinguished the Robins’ chances. A late consolation for Kane Simpson proved too little and too late and could not prevent Frome from suffering another defeat by their county nemesis.
The draw had thrown up an early clash of consequence in Somerset’s knock-out trophy, a fixture that had taken place in two successive semi-finals of the competition. It could be argued, however, that county glory was lower down the list of priorities for both managers than it might have been in any other season with prospects in their respective leagues looking rosy. Another freezing evening saw Danny Greaves, his hand also forced by minor knocks to several regulars, make eight changes to the side that came back to draw with Bishop’s Cleeve over the weekend. James Ollis returned from his hamstring struggles up front and there were rare starts for Caleb Summerfield, Tyson Pollard and the Toms, Duffin and Roberts.
Though minutes and fitness had been hard to come by for some of those featuring, Frome held their own, weathering their hosts’ early attacks, building at the back through the likes of stand-in captain Pierce Mitchell, Joe Budd and Matt Wood. Ross Staley and James Ollis were often at the centre of all that was threatening about the Robins’ play. The BA11 side looked comfortable in possession, matching the energy of the Romans as they set attacks in motion down the flanks. Just after the half-hour mark, Ollis was handed the tie’s first proper chance, his run left into the box and angled shot calling forth a savvy glove from keeper Slavomir Huk. As Frome’s belief grew, an offhand Bath performance was jolted into life. Wide men Ewan Clark and Oscar Thorn looked like the pick of the Roman troops, the latter cutting in past Staley and shooting as 18-year-old Roberts blocked the Romans’ first shot on goal with a strong leg. Minutes later, the teenager parried away another Thorn effort to maintain parity and followed up by glancing Dyer’s header over the bar as Bath’s confidence grew.
City’s previous record against Frome has been unblemished since the pandemic, their recent win in pre-season a fifth in as many games. That trend and the sight of returning top-scorer James Ollis feeling a twinge in his hamstring and sitting on the turf in the run-up to the break was a bitter pill to swallow despite going toe-to-toe for forty-five minutes. Sam Meakes would replace him after the break, a call that the support will pray is precautionary rather than required. But the first-half gusto was soon quenched minutes in when a deflection landed at Wilson’s feet before the forward fired a low pinpoint shot into the bottom left corner. The home side should have doubled their lead seconds later as Clark miscued from point-blank range.
Tom Roberts refused to be fazed, blocking two shots lashed in by Oscar Thorn, on loan from Colchester United. The goalkeeper has taken his game up a notch playing regularly with Shepton Mallet in the Western League this season and can take credit for keeping his side in it. Frome toiled hard, but decisive passes tended to desert them with just twenty minutes to go. Danny Greaves intent on adding some familiar faces into the fray when, on the cusp of a triple substitution, Clark snuck in at the back post to finish, profiting from confusion amid Thorn’s well-struck effort. Six minutes later, the brooding figure of Cooke was seen celebrating his now customary goal against Frome, a header to complete his tenth strike in six appearances against the Robins.
Kane Simpson, his evening made notable by valiant efforts at closing down defenders, took his goal well, a late consolation, with seconds of normal time to play. Though it drew forth a spell of Frome on the front foot, there was, realistically, little that could be done. The wait will have to go on for a Robins’ victory over the Romans and what little aspirations the players or supporters held regarding Somerset Premier Cup will have to be put to one side. Not that there is little by way of things the club can look forward. Danny Greaves’ side go into a run of four successive home ties, including this weekend’s league clash with Exmouth and the following Saturday’s captivating fixture with Torquay. The squad will be stronger for those minutes played in this technical rehearsal for the FA Trophy, especially those in which they matched their rivals in black-and-white. A long December and the winter ahead promises much and the chance to stake their claim will be invaluable as the games amass.
Match report and live updates by Zeb Baker-Smith
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