Updated: Apr 5
Frome Town were held to another goalless draw at home to Bideford. Though the Robins can lay claim to having played the better football, a concerning lack of end-product in attack cost the BA11 side once again. The effort and toil on display never looked likely to take apart the stubborn visitors' defence, even on an evening when captain Sam Teale made a remarkable 250th appearance in a Frome shirt.
After Pierce Mitchell’s injury last week, Danny Greaves’ hand was one again forced, his selection of Sam Meakes in the striker position the notable inclusion. However, the manager’s good intentions were to be foiled at the latest possible moment when midfielder George Rigg pulled up with a hamstring issue in the warm-up, the incessant injury contagion continuing to do its worst, as Mitch McCann was thrown into to the lineup for his debut. A week had gone by since last Tuesday’s goalless draw with Bristol Manor Farm and little had changed, seven players out and a weather-induced cancellation of the Friday evening fixture with Cinderford, a season in a nutshell.
Having weathered Bideford’s energetic opening, the visitor’s nifty attack showing no signs of the 114-mile coach odyssey to Somerset, Frome went close from a corner ten minutes in. In amid the set-piece maelstrom, Ben Withey caused the visitors some panic when he sidefooted a shot through the tangle of blue-shirted bodies but just wide of the post. Frome’s attacking trident of Meakes, Zak Drew and Jono Davies found joy in their constant hassling of the Bideford centre-backs. Appearing fleet of foot as ever and collecting the ball from dispossessed defender, James Mayne, Davies lashed his shot goalwards, forcing a save from Alex Evans who could merely throw his arms at the ball wildly, the rebound falling just out of reach of Drew.
In the absence of goalscorer James Ollis, Meakes had been tasked on his first start to lead the line but, despite the efforts of the young striker and his attacking cronies to pen in Bideford, there was no end-product to match. The home side struggled to keep their tails up as the visitors constantly harangued the officials and their decisions and the match descended into a disjointed and piecemeal occasion. Establishing a footing in the game, the other Robins forced an unsighted save from Kyle Phillips late on in the first half, the ball zeroing in on goal as he managed to dive to his left, Lewis Brooks’ follow-up rebound directed straight into his gloves.
Bideford’s team is familiar, a side whom the cruel footballing fates ordain Frome must keep meeting, but it was a forgettable 116th meeting between the two sides. Tonight’s fixture should have been played in February but for a late call-off and a frozen pitch and Frome’s visit to North Devon later that month ended in a 2-0 defeat for Danny Greaves’ side. The other Robins had appeared a gritty outfit that afternoon, though their recent form has been in flux. A demoralising 8-1 defeat by champions-elect Totton followed by a nuggety draw at title challengers Sholing before a crucial win against Lymington - it was unclear which Bideford were scheduled to turn up this evening but no doubt the opposition were aiming to avoid relegation and leapfrog their hosts tonight with three points.
Jack Witcombe went close from the most unlikely of efforts early in the second half, his cross looping ominously above Evans, who struggled to pick it out of the night say, tipping it away as it nearly sailed between crossbar and post. And it was none other than the native wing-back who had the pick of the opportunities. Jono Davies dinked a crafted pass to him in space behind enemy lines, the bobble and bounce off his thigh and a hooked shot put paid to Frome’s hopes of taking a lead. The home side ground away at Bideford whose players continued to embarrass themselves with their remonstrating at the officials and outright histrionics, Archie Reay at one point feigning grievous bodily harm and tumbling to the jeers of the 259 supporters in attendance.
Replacements came and went but the best efforts of Tyson Pollard and forward Lewis Graham, a new recruit on debut, failed to spark anything but a second consecutive goalless draw. Frome remain in fourteenth, but the wait for a much-needed win goes on. Their detectable lack of confidence in front goal this evening means a third game in a row without scoring and is becoming of increasing concern to the supporters as Danny Greaves’ side limp towards safety and the end of a tough season, the prospect of Slimbridge away and noisy neighbours Melksham at home the next objective on their radar.
Match report and live updates by Zeb Baker-Smith