Frome’s season came to a heart-breaking end as they fell to a 3-1 defeat against Bristol Manor Farm at Badgers Hill in the Southern League Division One South play-off semi-final.
Even though the Robins took the lead on the night courtesy of a Joe O’Loughlin wondergoal, a Kye Simpson strike and a second-half brace from Owen Howe meant it was the visitors who will take part in the play-off final next week.
Despite making an energetic start in front of an impressive crowd of 1,158 people, the Robins found it hard to create goal-scoring opportunities against a packed Manor Farm defence.
Jon Davies had the first real opportunity of the evening when he flashed an effort across the face of goal on seven minutes, but the home side struggled to make the most of their dominance of possession.
O’Loughlin passed up a glorious chance to open the scoring when he headed a Matt Smith cross wide of the target not long after, but after remaining compact in the opening stages, Manor Farm began to threaten on the counter-attack.
On 27 minutes, Howe broke clear of the Robins defence on the right flank before forcing the ball towards goal, with only a last-ditch intervention from Alex Monks keeping the ball out of the net.
O’Loughlin more than made up for his earlier miss just after the half hour mark. The wing-back collected the ball in his natural position on the left flank before driving inside and unleashing a piledriver with his weaker right foot that found the top corner of the net from all of 25 yards.
The Robins had barely finished celebrating O’Loughlin’s wonder-strike before they found themselves pegged back, as Kye Simpson expertly lofted an effort over James Carey and into the net after being picked out at the back post.
The visitors were invigorated by their quick-fire equaliser and finished the half the more dangerous side.
Jake Gosling lifted an audacious effort onto the roof of Carey’s net from outside of the box before Howe blazed over after a long throw had fallen his way.
Even though Frome made a bright start to the second period that saw Mannings denied by Manor Farm ‘keeper Ben John in the opening minutes, they soon found themselves behind on the night.
After failing to deal with another long throw into the box from Joshua Ford, Howe was on hand to head home in the middle of a packed penalty area.
Danny Greaves introduced James Ollis in place of Mike Baker as Frome changed formation in search of an equaliser, and they came close to drawing level when Same Teale angled a shot just wide of target, but the Robins soon found themselves with a mountain to climb.
As the home side committed more and more bodies to attack, Manor Farm began to find space to exploit on the break, and they took full advantage in the 70th minute as Howe headed home a cross after finding himself unmarked in the six-yard box.
The Robins huffed and puffed in search of a route back into the game, but the massed ranks of the Manor Farm defence showed few signs of creaking, and it was they who earned a place in Monday’s play-off final.