Updated: Sep 25
Frome Town secured a 3-0 victory over Bemerton Heath Harlequins and reached the Third Qualifying Round of the FA Trophy. James Ollis maintained his imperious scoring form with a goal either side of half-time before his attacking accomplice, Jon Davies, added a third. The scoreline and clean sheet suggests an easy-going afternoon, but, at times, the Robins rode their luck and were bailed out by the woodwork. Ultimately, it was clinical finishing and nerve that sealed yet another bid for glory in a cup competition.
There were few in attendance who thought that this fixture would be straightforward for Frome. Having been drawn away in the FA Trophy against a side who had defeated the Robins 3-1 in August, a battle was on the cards. Despite their status as a newly-promoted side, the Harlequins had had a wonderful start to life in the Southern League, collecting 10 points in five games, and had stormed to a 5-2 win over Westbury in the opening round of this competition. True grit, however, has been the name of the game for Danny Greaves and co. in recent weeks. Tuesday had seen Frome secure another sojourn into the Third Round of Qualifying in the FA Cup, seeing off Southern Premier side Plymouth Parkway 2-1 in a replayed fixture.A busy September means a successful September and it had been a near-perfect month so far, but, with three games to go in little over a week, there was still work to do yet. Notching up another cup win and securing another ninety minutes of knockout football would only amplify that tangible feeling of ‘Que Sera, Sera’ among the squad and the support who had travelled in their droves.
A lively start by Frome saw them threading passes and harrying defenders. Both teams looked to move the ball around and play “football” The Robins exerted pressure and were rewarded with a flurry of corners and chances. Striker James Ollis went close twice on the ten minute mark, attempting to thump a half-cleared corner between a forest of socks before being beaten to a header. His partner-in-crime up front, Ben Griffith, restored to a starting berth, saw his shot fly past the goal mouth and just wide. His bicycle effort wafted over the bar as he tried to finish an artful back-post header by Matt Wood.
Though the opportunities dried up as the first half went on, the front three endeavoured to pen back the home side, marshalled by stand-in skipper Jono Davies. It had been very even, Frome stealing it on the quality of their chances, Bemerton edging it on possession. Just before the half-time whistle, Bemerton went close, Lamin Jatta gaining an inch on his defender and sending in what could have been a lethal pass in from the right which was just cleared. Having come close to conceding, Zak Drew ran the ball up on the counter-attack. The wing-back found Jono Davies in space, his square pass allowing Ollis, ever ready to pounce, to sweep in and finish. Even for a man who, according to his manager, doesn’t score ‘worldies’, it will go down as one of the easier ones he has scored, but, after a combative half, it was the perfect remedy before half-time.
Ollis had opened the scoring at the same ground in August before a chaotic second half saw Frome concede three and be reduced to ten men. This visit, on the contrary, saw the prolific striker celebrating another well-taken goal just after the break, his tenth in as many games this season. A nimble switch from Warren Maidment liberated Zak Drew down the right. His crisp pass was not met by Davies, who feigned to shoot and instead stepped over the delivery, leaving it to BA11's man of the moment. The script has become rather predictable in the last few weeks, but nobody appears to be complaining.
A two-goal cushion is a dangerous one, as the most banal of cliché goes, but there was peril in swathes. Right winger Jatta’s shot defied space and time, hitting both posts and possibly the bar, as Frome toiled in defence, cleared no lack of menacing crosses and kept their discipline. The stress was relieved when Will Taylor collected a goal-kick and nudged forward to Drew who took his time and passed into the box. Jono Davies, whose sleek, individual display was rather lost in the spectacle of Tuesday, was there to finish off at close quarters, a deserved reward for an excellent showing across a number of games. His substitution just after his goal prompted a rousing ovation too.
Three goals to the good, but the woodwork came to the Robins’ aid once again as Kyle Phillips’ right palm tipped the ball onto the post and secured another precious clean sheet. It is a result that caps what is quickly becoming the most propitious of months. How far away that cheerless Tuesday night feels now. Ollis’ spree which began that very night is symptomatic of the current belief and optimism that took root. With the unbeaten run at eight matches, this squad has already surpassed their longest undefeated run from last season. A huge week approaches, one that contains the home clash against Evesham in the league and the hotly-anticipated tie away in the FA Cup at Ramsgate, but the fact that the Monday lunchtime draw is becoming a regular autumn ritual is something to be grateful for.
Match report and live updates by Ryan Atkins and Zeb Baker-Smith.
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