Updated: Aug 21, 2022
Frome Town carried on their unbeaten start with a comfortable victory in the FA Cup against Buckland Athletic. Three goals before half-time was enough to see the Robins through in what became a heated contest at times. The Robins, who were down to ten men by the final whistle, will be satisfied to come through with a clean sheet on the road against one of the Western League’s more testing sides. In the previous round, giant-killing Buckland had beaten their county rivals, Exmouth Town, but it will be the team from BA11 who progress to the First Round of Qualifying in the competition.
A posse of Frome fans made the trip down to Devon and were rewarded for their efforts. The Frome forward unit of Jono Davies, Laurent Davis-Wilson and Owen Humphries appeared revived after the struggles against Willand Rovers in the league’s midweek round. Cohesive movement from the attacking trio proved too difficult for the Buckland defenders to handle in the early minutes. Ben Withey opened the scoring within fifteen minutes. A Frome cross into the box left the centre-backs in no-man’s land and allowed the new recruit to pounce, charging in from the right and despatching the ball into the Buckland goal.
Robin’s captain, Sam Teale, playing on the right of a defensive three, showed his vision, spraying pinpoint cross-field passes to release Ben Starr into dangerous positions on the left. Meanwhile, the front three continued to link the play together effortlessly, not least for Frome’s sublime second goal. On the half-hour mark, a deft one-two with Owen Humphries released Davies into the box, the No.10 on his first start for the club playing a wedge shot of a chip behind the centre-back. Davies, rewarded with a bottle of prosecco as prize for his man-of-the-match performance, had just the oncoming goalkeeper to beat. The playmaker nonchalantly dinked the ball over him and walked it into the net for his first of the season. It was a stunning team goal, one to warrant the fans’ long trip down to Newton Abbot.
Minutes later, the referee blew as another Frome attack was disrupted. The resulting penalty was struck in with ease by Davies for the 81st goal of his Robins career. Meanwhile, tensions were high on the sideline. A poorly-timed run out of his box had seen Kyle Phillips clatter the Buckland forward and bring a counter-attack to a fruitless end. Whether or not he was the last man was the point of contention in the dugouts, but the Frome keeper can count himself fortunate to have escaped without a caution.
It was by no means one-way traffic, the home side regularly running into the space behind the Frome midfield’s press. The centre-backs demonstrated that the torrid showing against Willand had been but a blip and, despite Frome’s left stick being rattled late in the first half, never looked in trouble.
The second half saw an often assured, if occasionally uninspiring, shutdown of the match by the Robins. At times the scrappiness devolved into disjointedness, but ball retention improved with Danny Greaves’ introduction of the bench. Alex Monks and Warren Maidment provided calmness before new forward, Josh Brace, came on for his competitive debut.
The game was meandering into injury time, when, seemingly out of nowhere, a shrill blow of the whistle saw George Rigg warned for backchat. The groans in response to this unnecessary delay were audible. As play kicked off, Alex Monks jumped up to head on a goal-kick in an innocuous challenge. Before he had got up, to the whole grounds’ bemusement, the referee had brandished a red card and Frome found themselves down to ten men for the remaining five minutes of normal time.
A nasty-looking injury to the Frome captain, Sam Teale, did not help either. The defender appeared to damage his ankle and received treatment on the sideline, despite his insistence that he was able continue. Setbacks aside, Frome will be pleased with their response to the disappointment of last week. It was a reassured and controlled win that sees them into the famous competition’s autumn stages. The process of bedding in new players that Danny Greaves has repeatedly mentioned is proving successful and the team extended their unbeaten run on the road, one that now dates back to December 2021.
But, next Saturday, the squad’s focus will turn to the tall order of AFC Totton, an outfit whom many are tipping for the Southern League. One of the division’s big spenders and a possible title rival, their visit to Badgers Hill promises to be a titanic struggle, one to whet the Bank Holiday appetite.
Match report and live updates by Zeb Baker-Smith.