Frome played out an intriguing 2-2 with contenders for the division, Wimborne Town. Despite leading twice through first-half goals from Jon Davies and Sam Teale, Matthew Neale’s breathtaking finish from distance pegged the Robins back in the second half. It was a game that lived up to its billing as a top-of-the-table clash and can be classed as a point gained for the Danny Greaves’ side who remain a point behind the Magpies in second, but, crucially, with two games in hand.
The schedule has continued to be fast and furious as Christmas approaches. As the Robins begin to catch up and play their games in hand, the make-up of the table was only stirring the hopes of the supporters. It was a third fixture at home in just eight days, but there was no danger of football fatigue for the Frome faithful as the opportunity to topple Wimborne from their perch beckoned if their side could win. After making several changes in midweek for that ‘one-stop’ derby victory against Westbury, Danny Greaves shuffled his pack once again. Experienced hands George Rigg, Sam Teale, Jon Davies were selected and the manager opted for Kane Simpson to lead the attack.
The occasion and the magnitude did not hamper how both sides would go about it. Jon Davies looked to follow on from his goal-scoring cameo against the White Horse Men, almost sneaking one in from an early free-kick, but his effort was well-saved by Ross Flitney. There was lethargy and rashness too, Pierce Mitchell and Sam Teale, both recipients of unnecessary yellow cards within fifteen minutes played, and at times Frome needed to slow things up as Wimborne worked hard in possession. Frome’s pace and guile up top, Davies and Kane Simpson ever at the forefront, proved a handful for the Magpies’ centre-back pairing. The latter initiated the first goal just after half an hour, striding in on the left and shooting. Flitney made a good save but the ball dribbled into the path of Davies who scurried past the defender and tapped in.
The Magpies could have felt aggrieved to have been down but Morgan levelled it almost immediately after Frome failed to get the ball clear. Minutes later, Kyle Phillips pulled off a remarkable save, denying Morgan and keeping it level by flicking it on to the crossbar. Marcus Day’s loopy cross was then parried over by Flitney and, in the chaos of the resulting corner, the ball fell into Sam Teale’s path, the skipper restoring the lead with a cool finish on the stroke of half-time.
Wimborne had enjoyed their start to the 23/24 campaign, like Frome losing just twice. The Dorset side’s ambitions to return to the Southern League’s Premier Division resemble the BA11 club’s and today’s fixture was due to go some way to deciding the fates of both club’s hopes for April. The Magpies had yet to play a game in December, their last few fixtures having been called off. In the same time, Frome had played three times. but which side would this quirk favour? During the opening minutes of the second half, Frome kept their heads, the red-shirted attacks consisting of swinging balls into the space between the centre-backs and letting Kane Simpson work his magic. Wimborne worked hard but were thwarted in midfield. However, by the hour mark, the Robins were inviting too much pressure and again had to rely on a couple of shrewd stops from Kyle Phillips as Wimborne’s dominance started to pay off, cutting through their hosts’ back line with regularity.
The Frome goalkeeper looked like he was struggling with injury at one point and, however much his side were in debt to his previous exploits between the posts, he had no chance in stopping a scorching strike from Matthew Neale who collected the ball from Sam Griffen’s pass and lasered it in from outside the box. Frome had sat back too much and paid for their approach in the ten minutes leading up to the goal. There were half-chances at both ends, the substitutions raising eyebrows, but the visitors were the only team looking likely of winning by the end of the ninety minutes.
After the last few weeks, the thrill of cup runs and the way the table is shaping up in the league, a draw at home after a scrappy second-half showing feels a smidge hollow in the eyes of the perfectionists. Though the lead was cancelled out twice, the more pragmatic support will say it is a point that suits Frome far more than it might do a worthy Wimborne side, who remain just a point adrift with two games in hand and will lament the fact like they should have had more had it not been for the brilliant work of Phillips. It is a point that should not be sniffed at and one from which plenty can be learnt. The next fixture poses a no less thorny undertaking - a Friday night trip up against the Christmas shoppers and Cribbs, the surprise package in the division this season who went level on points with the Robins after a win today. There is little chance of respite or an easy weekend for Danny Greaves and his squad in the near future
Match report and live updates by Zeb Baker-Smith.
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