Frome Town followed up their opening-day win with a disappointing draw against Willand Rovers. Though they remain unbeaten, having led twice, Danny Greaves and his team will be frustrated, dropping points for the first time this season. If the team are to fulfil their expectation of challenging for the league, it will be contests like this one, tough and physical encounters, which demand victory.
Kyle Phillips was bought into action with just seconds on the clock diving to fend a dangerous attack, but the the first half was characterised by two combative approaches cancelling each other out. The opening goals arose in fortuitous circumstances. Midfielder Alex Monks’ opened the scoring, his low drive deflecting in off Willand skipper, Kieran Bailey. Almost at once, the referee blew for a penalty, Ben Starr adjudged to have brought down a Rovers player in the box, Will Richards converting from the penalty spot.
The ninety minutes were littered with stoppages, players in red and green finding it difficult to maintain a grasp on possession and giving the ball away. It was an attritional contest, both sides taking advantage of the soft turf, hefty challenges flying in across the pitch, its green tinge returned after heavy showers in the build-up.
Willand, who finished a respectable 15th in the division last season, were not shy in the way they set up, eager to play their way to a result and dangerous on the break. In the second half, the Rovers caught a sleepy Frome out on the counterattack a number of times, not least when No.9, Lewis Hill, was sent through down the left, scampering round Mike Baker and slotting in past Kyle Phillips with ease on 60 minutes.
Manager Danny Greaves threw caution to the wind with three substitutions and it was not long before the tide turned and the breakthrough came. A long ball into the box was handled by the Willand defender and striker, Luke Hopper, recently signed from Yate for his goals, expertly sent the ball from the penalty spot into the top right corner to bring the game level at 2-2.
Fortune was favouring Frome and their fairytale start seemed to have repeated itself when a fine header was guided in by Laurent Davis-Wilson, who put the Robins into the lead. The striker made as good a claim as he could for a starting berth, having already marked his arrival on the pitch with thoughtful and effective runs into the box.
The elation that met the new recruit’s first goal for the club was not to last as Willand went up and equalised with minutes on the clock, taking advantage of some poor defending. The Badgers Hill brigade had barely sat down before the prospect of two wins from two games was cruelly snatched away. The team’s attention now turns away from the league when, on Saturday afternoon, Frome are on the road with a trip to the Devon coast, and it will be Buckland Athletic who are due to pose the first challenge to their FA Cup credentials.