Frome Town ended their run of defeats with a dramatic draw away at Bristol Manor Farm. Luke Hopper’s injury time equaliser cancelled out the Farm’s second-half goal, secured a point and masked what was at times a disjointed performance on their trip to one of the division’s tougher grounds.
The first half saw a series of chances at both ends. Hopper went close in the opening minutes, shooting just over the bar after a miscue from the home sides’ defence, but Manor Farm quickly grew into the game and looked increasingly dangerous going forward. Frome have Kyle Phillips in goal to thank as he continually kept the Robins in the tie with some fine saves. His ability to bail the defence out time and time again should stand the team from BA11 in good stead this season.
Throughout the ninety, cohesion was lacking for Frome. After the makeshift side that endured a torrid time at Bashley mid-week, it was a more seasoned and familiar line-up that started. However, the inclusion of George Rigg, pulled out of his accustomed position in midfield to left-back, gave encouragement to Manor Farm’s attack, who often targeted their attacks through Marcus Day on the right.
It was Day who broke the deadlock early in the second half. A driving run and a sweeping pass found the winger free in the box to shoot past Phillips. Minutes later, to the anguished roars of the Farmy Army, the referee denied a possible penalty, as the goalscorer went down attempting to thread his way through between the defenders.
This proved to be the reprieve that Frome needed. Luke Hopper, top-scorer for the club so far this season, and second-half replacement James Ollis acted as useful focal points for the team in attack. Though, for much of last half hour, Manor Farm’s defence appeared untroubled by the attempts to break, calmly tracking the runs of Humphries and Davies from the flanks, Frome’s efforts were ultimately to be rewarded. As the clock ran down into the final minutes, Hopper, formerly of Manor Farm’s rivals Yate Town, was left unmarked at the edge of the box. As bodies flew in around him, his shot was met with block which fell kindly for his second attempt, an easy side-foot finish into the net. It felt an important moment, one that was reflected in the ecstatic celebrations of the flock of Frome fans and even caused an advertising hoarding to collapse!
Danny Greaves had mentioned before the start of the season that it could be three or four weeks before the side would gel fully, citing new arrivals and potential combinations that would need time to develop. Based on this performance, that gelling process may need a few weeks longer, but this equaliser could be the crucial galvanising moment that the side needed after a challenging run over recent weeks. Despite Frome not being at their best, the never-say-die attitude that was on display in closing moments of the game must be commended and must give the team confidence as they push for promotion this season.
A fixture-free weekend will give the Frome boys time for recovery and a few valuable training sessions before the visit of newly-promoted and high-flying Hamworthy to Badgers Hill on 1st October.
Match report and live text updates provided by Zeb Baker-Smith