Frome Town caused a shock and edged a cup classic 2-1 in their FA Cup replay against Plymouth Parkway. Having been held 2-2 in Devon, the Robins triumphed by a single score in a thrilling turn of events, as a penalty was saved and a goal-line clearance made in a frenetic injury time. James Ollis provided both goals, extending his exquisite record this season in front of goal and ensuring that the club reached the Third Qualifying Round for a second year in three.
Frome Town caused a shock and edged a cup classic in their FA Cup replay against Plymouth Parkway. Having been held 2-2 in Devon, the Robins triumphed by a single score in thrilling circumstances, penalties saved and goal-line clearances in a frenetic injury time. James Ollis provided both goals, extending his exquisite form in front of goal and ensuring that the club reached the Third Qualifying Round for a second season in three.
It had been billed as a date with destiny in the cup, a Southern League clash albeit the division separating the sides. ‘Pack the Hill’ was the call from the manager and his staff ahead of kick-off. Not only are there generous finances on offer at these later stages, but the potential to maintain this current run of form, unbeaten since mid-August, in front of a partisan full-voiced Badgers Hill crowd was a tantalising prospect. The Robins had jabbed their way to a lead going into the final minutes at Bolitho Park, only to be foiled by a late equaliser. The next round’s draw had been made and the winner of this tie was set to face Isthmian opposition, either Cray Wanderers or Ramsgate in eleven days’ time. The stage was set.
The Robins were more than up for the grand occasion, carrying on where they left off, making a nuisance of themselves and refusing to bow down to the prestige of the Premier Division. Owen Humphries, scorer of an elegant curler in the original tie, looked in the mood. Refreshed this season after his transatlantic jaunt, he prompted attacks time and again, slick passes setting his fellow forwards loose on goal. Frome’s other goalscorer, James Ollis was, predictably, the first to capitalise on a Parkway mistake, running through and shooting past the misfooted keeper Parkes after ten minutes.
It had been an animated and bullish start from the hosts, one that was almost rewarded again, when Reece Rusher nearly added a second with a low drive as the squalls blew across the pitch. In the opening half hour, the Parkway defence cowered from corners as a swarm of red shirts nearly bundled the ball in. Despite no notable chances, the visitors soon regained composure via long spells of possession, only for Ollis to strike the bar just before half-time after a cunning opening on goal orchestrated by Jono Davies.
Frome held the lead - the BA11 side had had to toil for it at times, but there was plenty of work still to do in the wet and the wind. Parkway needed to make a statement, reassert themselves in the second forty-five and Frome were slow out of the blocks. It was inevitable that time would lag in the lead. Despite the marshalling of the defence, Pierce Mitchell fell foul of a greasy surface, slipping as Jack Crago finished to bring his side level. Heads did not drop, as Reece Rusher unleashed his firearm left boot and narrowly missed on two separate occasions. Parkway, meanwhile, could and should have taken the lead when Matt Wright, unmarked and feet from the goalmouth, pondered over his shot, which inexplicably looped over.
A corner found its way to Ollis whose first bite was well-saved. The striker has had a stellar few years at Frome, rifling the ball into the net with his second attempt for a fortieth goal as a Robin and an astonishing eighth this season. It was moment to send the 312 in the ground frantic, the premature ‘We’re going to Wembley!’ chorus sung by the young Dodge ultras. Not quite - there were aeons to play yet.
Time does funny things at Badgers Hill and the announcement of a minimum of six minutes of injury time was greeted with a roar of support that resonated around the ground. Almost instantly though, the referee blew and pointed to the spot as Parkway hurled themselves forward in attack, Joe Budd adjudged to have handled in the box to the bemusement of everyone. Having endured a tough time on Saturday, all eyes were on Kyle Phillips as the yellow shirt began his run-up. The keeper chose to go to his left, the correct way, and smothered the ball An escape but a short-lived one, Warren Maidment’s outstretched leg required to do the unthinkable and rebound a shot away from goal-line peril.
Utter relief at the final whistle was evident by the swamping of the gangway, all those in attendance desperate to shake the hands and congratulate the squad members, seventeen of whom had played significant parts across the two legs. It will not be until tomorrow evening when Danny Greaves and his side will discover their destination for 30th September and the next round. There is confidence, however, that whoever it is, Cray Wanderers or Ramsgate, this side and the winning mentality that is being nurtured week on week can prevail. Before then, it remains to be seen whether they can make amends at Bemerton Heath Harlequins in the FA Trophy and vanquish the ‘other Robins’, Evesham United, the following Tuesday.
Man of the Match: James Ollis
Match report and live updates by Ryan Atkins and Zeb Baker-Smith
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