Updated: Apr 16
Frome’s efforts to reach the promotion play-offs were given a boost after a joyous 2-0 victory in a derby clash with Paulton Rovers, their fourth consecutive win in just over a week. A second game in three days made for an unspectacular meeting between the two Somerset sides, but the feel-good factor at Badgers Hill was felt as Sam Meakes and Sam Teale put the Robins into an unassailable lead in the first half. Though there were half-chances on offer, Paulton failed to trouble the Robins who will be hopeful of favourable results across the division as the season reaches its final week and climax.
It had been a while since the good times had felt this good. Three consecutive league wins for the first time this season had blown the recent relegation narrative out of the water. The Robins had hit a purple patch late on in the season after they stormed to a 5-1 win over Cinderford in the latter of two weekday games and had got wind of the faint scent of a play-off spot. The turnaround of less than two days, or forty-one hours, since the whistle blew on Thursday night forced a few alterations to the Robins' line-up. George Rigg, Jack Witcombe and Sam Meakes came into Danny Greaves’ side as the manager looked to profit from limited resources.
Albeit not the pure delight of the triumph of two nights ago, Frome started in a determined mood, the ball ending up in the net at the back post after five minutes to disbelief and cheers. However, the referee signalled that Davies’ corner had gone out of play in the delivery. The playmaker nearly continued his own scoring run, swaggering into the box from the left and shaking off his defender, but the final product flew narrowly over the bar from a tight angle. Frome were unswerving in their search for a goal, embodied by Sam Meakes running down the right channel and winning a foul. The free-kick came in and the young striker managed to get his head to it, the ball stealing past the keeper’s outstretched glove at the back post to take the lead on the half-hour mark.
The makeshift back three of skipper Sam Teale and his protégés, midfielder George Rigg and the versatile Joe O’Loughlin, had work to do. For all of Paulton’s efforts to land the ball in the mixer, only Rover’s Joseph Morgan caused real concern but for a last-gasp block courtesy of Witcombe and the captain. Having recently scored his first goal for the club, Zak Drew appeared to be hungry for more. The forward’s well-struck effort had the keeper scrambling to parry out for a corner. As recently as March, set-pieces were this side’s kryptonite, but, with Mitch McCann deployed to hassle the keeper and obstruct his line of sight, skipper Teale headed in from close range just before the conclusion of the half.
Thirteenth-placed Paulton are firmly in mid-table and more or less assured of safety. Frome’s county rivals had taken 44 points from their 36 games, and, though the visitors had made it to the Somerset Premier Cup final, the last few weeks had been up-and-down. Paulton had lost their last two, succumbing to Bristol Manor Farm in a 4-3 thriller last Monday when Owen Howe scored in injury time. Frome’s last meeting with the Rovers had ended in 3-2 defeat at Winterfield Road in October when Kyle Tooze and company physically outgunned the Robins, a defeat that had begun the trend of their rotten winter form. But those days seem behind this side now, confidence and commitment restored in double measure, and the potential for play-off football seemed that bit closer with a two-goal lead.
It was a circumspect start to the half, results elsewhere meaning Frome merely had to focus on maintaining their lead and managing the game. Their efforts to extend their margin were mostly thwarted until a beautiful attacking move saw the busy Zak Drew win the ball back in a dangerous position and deliver a floated pass to Meakes. The young striker, who ran himself into a stupor all afternoon, nonchalantly volleyed in over the keeper, but, turning round in celebration, his satisfaction was dashed as he glimpsed the linesman’s flag held aloft. Meakes forced a penalty shout minutes later when Rovers’ centre-back David Restorick shoved his man and was lucky to escape unpunished. Substitutions were made with an eye on the last couple of games of the regular season and the final whistle was blown with little incident aside from Daniel Dempsey’s red card for dissent before injury-time.
It was job done, an unfussy performance and the deserved result for the crowd of nearly 500 who attended Badgers Hill for the last home game of the season. With this winning run behind them, the away ties at champions Totton (weather permitting!) and play-off hopefuls Tavistock over the coming week will no doubt be a step-up for this Frome side who continue to startle onlookers with their doggedness. However, if (and only if!) Bashley and Evesham’s results are conducive, two wins and the untold glory that could await is ample incentive.
Live updates and match report written by Zeb Baker-Smith