Updated: Jan 3
Frome Town stumbled to a draw with in-form Larkhall, conceding an equaliser in the dying moments of a game where they had appeared comfortable. Though Danny Greaves’ side managed to put a stop to their recent run of defeats on the road, the Robins once more slipped from a winning position and ended up dropping points. George Rigg’s brace, scoring either side of half-time, made a first victory for Frome since mid-November look a real possibility, but late goals from Harley Prior and Max Williams spoilt the New Year’s party at a sunlit Badgers Hill.
As acknowledged by club officials and manager in the build-up to the game, the Robins’ form has been distinctly patchy in recent weeks with three consecutive defeats on the road, the latest of these being a 3-2 loss away at noisy neighbours Melksham on Boxing Day, a game in which the side had plenty of opportunities to win. Due to cancellations and rescheduling, this was the first game at home for Frome in nearly seven weeks, but a clash with Larkhall posed a serious challenge for a team low on confidence. As Frome’s form and aspirations for automatic promotion this season have faded into a distant horizon, this is a Larkhall side whose performances have been going from strength to strength and came into the game with three wins in their last four games. Though they failed to record a win until mid-October, the Bath-based side form has turned and, prior to kick-off, the Larks sat seven points behind Frome in fourteenth having played half of their fixtures.
It was clear from the first few seconds of the game that the season of goodwill and cheer had come to an end. The opening jabs of this bout were marked by fierce challenges, as a vocal crowd of 485 lost track of the number of cards and talking-tos given in short succession by the referee. Neither side looked eager to attack during the first half hour, but Frome’s superiority in possession gave them the edge. Nonetheless, there were few chances to note until a defining moment when the Larkhall defence were caught napping. Jono Davies’ twisting run and cross from the right saw the ball land between the centre-backs. Profiting on their hesitancy to clear, the canny George Rigg nipped in and tapped past the keeper for an aware finish.
Frome had their lead, but it was then that the emotion boiled over, the game descending into a brawl, an unsightly one but a demonstration, perhaps, that the desire of this Frome side should not be questioned. A suspected hamstring injury to Jono Davies, whose 200th appearance for the club earlier this season was celebrated this week, was a heavy blow for the home side and not the sight any supporter wanted to see. The response to the manager’s call for more heart and desire was plain to see in the second half, their continued efforts to attack down the flanks and the Larks’ struggles to gain a foothold in the game allowing for a buoyant mood in the ground. It was one of these forays down the right when Ollis pivoted around a blue shirt and provided a sweeping cross for Rigg to creep in at the back post for his second with just fifteen minutes left on the clock.
The game was meandering to an uneventful close when a Larkhall attack found substitute Harley Prior for a surprise goal. Hopes that this would be a mere consolation for the visitors were dashed when in the eighty-ninth minute Max Williams’ corner was clumsily fumbled into the net instead of headed clear at the near post. These were two eminently avoidable chances, defensive naivety and lapses of concentration to blame for both, that ushered the Larks back into the game and will be particularly galling for those associated with the club. Though
of this side’s ability were more frequently on show than in previous displays, the challenge of consecutive away trips to the South Coast at Totton and Wimborne next week will require a much more complete performance.
Match report and live updates by Zeb Baker-Smith