Frome Town recorded a disappointing 1-1 draw at home to the division’s bottom club Lymington Town. On his return to the starting lineup, James Ollis made his mark early inside three minutes, but, after a comfortable first half, the Robins succumbed to Luke Gray’s equaliser and, most worryingly, suffered a number of concerning injuries to key players.
Danny Greaves’ hand was forced when picking his match day squad, the absence of the injured captain, Sam Teale a particular blow. With Luke Hopper and Mike Baker also missing through illness and the intensity of four games in eleven days, the starting line-up was always going to have a different feel. James Ollis, on his first league start of the season, kept up his goalscoring exploits from the weekend’s win at Bishop’s Cleeve when he nodded in from a corner to delight the 301 fans who had braved a cold evening.
Such a perfect start could only be dampened by the early departures of two of Frome’s most experienced operators, playmaker Jono Davies and midfielder George Rigg, injuries to a hamstring and an ankle respectively. Initially these absences did not reveal any discouragement and their replacements quickly got in on the attacking mission. Combining beautifully, midfielder Essilfie-Conduah bursting down the left wing and squaring to the oncoming Davis-Wilson, unmarked in the box. The striker could only direct the ball wide of the post.
This squandered chance appeared to be a decisive moment for Lymington, a side who had failed to pick up a point in the seven games they had played in the division so far. Though their record in the Southern League has been poor, the team from the Solent had taken the scalp of division leaders Sholing in the FA Trophy. Gradually the Linnets began to sow the seeds of doubts in the minds of the Frome defenders. Often this season and in particular under the lights at home, the Frome back-line have been prone to lapses of concentration, not least when Ryan Hughes, the visitors’ right-back was found in the box unmarked. Kyle Phillips dealt with his shot, diving to the far post, bailing the defence out once again, but it was an obvious sign that this Lymington side were not expecting to come and be rolled over.
Half-time came and went with little real opportunity for either side. Frome showed their mastery in possession, but, once more, quality in the final third and clinical finishing seemed to be at a premium. Seemingly from nowhere, Lymington’s Luke Gray found the equaliser with a try-your-luck shot from an angle which looped beyond the goalkeeper. Despite having twenty minutes to play, it was not long before Frome appeared to have run out of ideas. It was in these closing minutes that the likes of Davies and Hopper each with the ability to provide attacking thrust and to impose themselves on the opposition’s back-line, were sorely missed. By the final whistle, it was clear that neither side was deserving of the win, but Frome can only be disillusioned given the early chances on offer. Lymington, on the other hand, will return to the Solent off the mark with a positive result, one they had been craving since August
The win at Bishop’s Cleeve had seen the Robins rise the table and preserve their run of wins, but, though the remain in third spot, this result at home tarnishes what has been an encouraging few weeks for Danny Greaves’ squad. Many have already christened Frome’s next game away at early leader Sholing as a title decider, but the foremost priority for the team in the aftermath of such debilitating injuries will be gathering together enough bodies for the fixture.
Match report and live updates by Zeb Baker-Smith