Updated: Oct 16
Frome Town extended their fine early-season form with an accomplished 1-0 victory over Mousehole. Zak Drew’s deft finish before the break went against the run of play in a first-half where the Cornish visitors had the better of the chances. Alongside the goal came control for the Robins, who were in command for much the second-half without finding a way to bolster their lead, but at full-time Mousehole were left to rue several openings which went begging. A fifth successive win in the league for Frome consolidated their position in the play-off positions and ensured the sense of belief and optimism among Danny Greaves’ squad and the fanbase will persist.
After a spate of away games, the challenge facing the Robins on their long-awaited return to weekend fixtures at Badgers Hill was a high-stakes league tie against the Southern League’s newcomers. Twelve goals in their last two games, five in their last eighteen minutes played, this gifted flock of Robins had recorded ten wins in their last twelve games in all competitions. However, as the focus turned back to league football, the side’s 'bread and butter’, there were plenty of games to come and work to do. In the wake of Tuesday night’s demented climax away at Paulton, Danny Greaves elected to include George Rigg in the midfield and chose to start Sam Meakes up front.
The scene was one of autumnal sunshine and anticipation as the fans flooded in to the ground. There was a swift realisation that this was not to be the seven-goal scorefest of Winterfield Road on Tuesday when Mousehole made an assertive start. Morgan Lewis hared down the left wing for the first of his many raids into Robins’ territory and forced a sliding block from the watchful Warren Maidment. It was a cagey, lackadaisical start by the home side on a greasy pitch and the Seagulls saw to it that Kyle Phillips would have to toil between the posts, the keeper tipping away Hayden Turner’s curled effort with a crucial glove low to his left. The platitude of catching the travelling team out after a long journey never materialised for Frome. Instead, the Cornish side appeared to have spent the four-and-a-half hours catching up on their beauty sleep as Danny Greaves’ side struggled in formation, space between his low-lying midfield and attacking line causing indecision among red shirts, with ball and without.
After Frome began to stem their opponents’ charges down the left and ceased their haemorrhaging of possession. The last week’s killer instinct in front of goal had appeared to be out of kilter until Meakes’ shot deflected into the path of Zak Drew who did just enough to nudge his effort past keeper Chenoweth and, crucially, beyond the line to land. Mousehole had performed as well as any side the Robins have faced this season, but Frome had landed the first below. Coming into the game, the most westerly side in the non-league system sat third, two places above Frome, and had navigated the first six games of their stint in the Southern League without tasting defeat, the winning culture fostered in the step below paying dividends. Many would err on the side of caution when hyping up the significance of fixtures this early into the season, but the fact that both sides, neither of whom had been shy in front of goal, are in the play-off positions with a mere point separating them meant that the build-up was justified.
Frome emerged with a renewed purpose in their defending after half-time, evidence of this side’s ability to savour a lead and labour for clean sheets when physically matched by their opposition. The capacity to bring on replacement of James Ollis and Reece Rusher’s ilk was the telling difference between the sides, the latter sharing a glimpse into his footballing subconscious with his audacious attempt to chip the keeper from halfway, an effort that missed by a matter of feet. Despite the relief of pressure that the pair guaranteed, it was an uncomfortable half to watch, but nothing worse than that. Mousehole’s travelling support , however, will wake up in a cold sweat somewhere near Okehampton on the A30 when they recall Jack Bray-Evans inexplicably failing to make contact with Lewis’ cross from a yard out. Mousehole’s destructive inclination which served them so well prior to this clash had deserted them, but, rallied by the turnout of 475 in attendance, Frome rode their luck at times to see the game out.
Expectation management and the game-by-game mantra that Danny Greaves has continued to emphasise is all well and good. Living in the moment is the correct message for him and his squad to be communicating from the dressing room, but this is a chance for the fans to take stock, not only to take pride and bask in the victories and performances of the last two months, but to relish the challenges of this division and embrace the excitement of what lies ahead this season. A fair wind is currently blowing over Badgers Hill, the team is thriving and a favourable table is beginning to take shape in which Frome sit third with games in hand, so it is imperative to enjoy it while it lasts. The tests, like today, next week away at Bashley and the FA Trophy clash with Cribbs, will keep presenting themselves, but there are a wealth of reasons to be optimistic.
Match report and live updates by Ryan Atkins and Zeb Baker-Smith.
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