Updated: Feb 5
Frome Town edged a spirited evening encounter with mid-table rivals Bishop’s Cleeve earning a first league win since the autumn. After a comfortable victory at the Western League’s Bishop Sutton to reach the semi-final of the Somerset Premier Cup, the Robins turned around their relegation form to record successive victories and draw a line under the trauma of last week’s defeat at Exmouth. Having picked up a single point in the last available fifteen, the Robins went ahead early through Alex Monks and James Ollis and never looked likely to let their lead slip.
The two sides came into the fixture within touching distance of each other in the table, an in-form Bishop’s Cleeve just three points ahead having played a handful more games after Frome’s disrupted winter schedule. The early signals were that positive for Frome, as Bishop’s Cleeve struggled to maintain any semblance of possession for much of the opening exchanges, Jamie Adam’s header from a deft Owen Humphries’ corner over the bar the notable early chance. Retained in the side after a sparky cup performance alongside the likes of Ben Starr and Tyson Pollard, the playmaker in the No.10 shirt ran into the box before being clattered by the last defender, Linden Dovey, who received a red card for his troubles. Tasked with saving the penalty, Cleeve keeper, Lewis Clayton, dived the correct way for Alex Monk’s low effort, but the midfielder followed up and duly thundered in the rebound.
Lead secured and with an extra man, it could not have been a better start for the home side. Having found his scoring form in midweek, James Ollis showed his quality again heading in a divine cross by Tyler Ashmead, the wing-back looping his pass in from the right as the ball looked to be running harmlessly out of play. The Robins frequently found themselves behind the defensive line, and, even without the ball, the likes of Owen Humphries showed willingness to drop back and get their hands dirty in defence.
After the break, Frome’s momentum stuttered as the match descended into scrappiness and the visiting team came to terms with their limited manpower. Though Frome did their best to force chances and the replacements looked lively, their relative lack of match fitness could be to blame for the inability to unlock a nuggety Cleeve defence who, though they rode their luck on occasion, showed plenty of discipline and organisation.
The BA11 faithful have been starved of football in recent months, with just a single game played at Badgers Hill in seventy-six days, as wintry conditions, whether the wet or the cold, have plagued the fixture list and the Robin’s ability to win games. This deprivation of home advantage has appeared to wreak havoc on this team’s confidence, but the unsettled and rudderless form of December and January was undetectable tonight. Comforted and rallied by a partisan crowd and the antics of new addition Dodge, the Robins appeared re-invigorated and, at times during the first half, thrived in attack.
Having waited nearly five weeks, it will be just a matter of days before the visit of Bideford who make the lengthy trip up from North Devon on Tuesday in search of a result to keep them afloat in their relegation battle. The fixture promises to live up to expectation, a clash between two teams with points to prove as the season advances towards its climax.
Match report and live updates by Zeb Baker-Smith