Frome Town cantered to a consummate victory against fourth-placed Wimborne. A goal apiece for attacking lynchpins, James Ollis and Jono Davies, as well as midfielder Jamie Adams clinched a result that can only restore confidence to a side whose aspirations to reach the play-offs by the season’s close remain. What started as a sensational display of attacking flair in the first-half became a well-rounded and mature showing after half-time and the home side will be pleased to have seen off one of the divisions heavy-hitters so convincingly.
Danny Greaves has continually been forced into line-up changes due to innumerable hamstrings injuries this season, most recently those of Tyler Ashmead and George Rigg last weekend. Wing-back Ben Starr’s return and a rare appearance for midfielder Conrad Essilfie-Conduah were overshadowed by the restoration of the talismanic Jono Davies to the starting line-up. He was everywhere as the match commenced at pace and was his step-over and cross from the right that ensured Frome’s perfect start, when James Ollis rose unchallenged at the clubhouse end to head in within three minutes of kick-off.
Wimborne came into the game in fourth spot, sat just behind last weekend’s opponents Hamworthy and still with a chance to topple leaders Sholing and Totton. Aside from a couple of recent hiccups, the visitors are a side that win games and score plenty of goals doing so. Questions do, however, remain about their vulnerability at the back and the Magpies could not avoid mulling over their winless record at Badgers Hill in the build-up.
Ollis’ eleventh league goal was the nightmare start for Wimborne, but Frome’s opening gambits can only be described as dream-like. Jono Davies came close to adding a second moments later with an athletic attempt at a bicycle kick which was parried away by Shane Muphy in goal. After missing large swathes of the season with hamstring issues, the pony-tailed maestro’s bright cameo off the bench last weekend at Hamworthy had been a sign of things to come. He conducted attack after attack with darting runs and his clever balls often found fellow attacking lynchpin Ollis. Wimborne could do nothing but hold out, until Jamie Adam’s visionary back-heel allowed Davies the space and time to drive his rising shot from twenty-five yards past the helpless goalkeeper and into the net.
The home side’s attacking intent did not fall away, nor did the chances dry up. But the shell-shocked Wimborne found their way into the tie, when a header from Jez Bedford drifted past the post and Kyle Phillips found his shot-stopping mojo in the dying minutes of the first half.
The spectacular pyrotechnics of the first half were not to be repeated but, for the purists in attendance, the level-headed pragmatism with which the home side ground out the game to the close might be as impressive. Withey, Teale and Maidment proved their worth with considered tackles and committed blocks as Wimborne showed attacking endeavour. However, the Magpies’ best efforts were never enough in the face of Frome’s defensive discipline.
The arrival of Reece Rusher in place of Davies for his home debut added impetus and spark. The forward’s industry saw Frome capitalise in the last ten minutes and it was late on in the game when the ball fell to Jamie Adams. The dependable midfielder magicked up a glorious third goal from nowhere, as he rifled a nonchalant half-volley from the edge of the area to the delight of the 462 fans present.
Injuries and the departure of striker Luke Hopper this week has left the Robins’ squad looking slimline, but one can be certain that the commitment and sense of purpose that has been rediscovered and fostered in recent weeks is here to stay. The return to fitness of Jono Davies and Reece Rusher, both of whom can act the creative pulse of this side, and the continued goalscoring exploits of Jame Ollis will bolster hopes of the support ahead of a crucial spring and the long trip to Bideford next weekend.
Match report and live updates by Zeb Baker-Smith