Updated: Sep 3
Frome Town battled to a 3-1 victory over Clevedon in the FA Cup to ensure a place in the draw of the Second Qualifying Round. A well-taken penalty won and struck in by Jono Davies in the first half saw the home side take the lead before his smart finish for a brace saw them extend it. Elliot Nicholson bundled one in for the Seasiders on the verge of injury time, but James Ollis’ unfazed finish vanquished the late nerves at Badgers Hill.
The nation’s favourite cup competition has thrown up plenty of inviting ties over its 152 years. Manchester derbies in the Third Round proper are tolerable watching, but such fixtures pale in comparison to proper regional rivalries as Somerset’s sixth-largest settlement by population played host to the county’s ninth-largest! A second consecutive crowd of just under 500 in less than a week certainly agreed and the personal connection of manager Danny Greaves, who was goalkeeper during Clevedon’s run to the First Round proper in 2006, only added to the narrative.
Frome made three changes to the side that had comfortably seen off Larkhall on Monday. Ben Griffith, scorer of a hat-trick in the last round of this competition, returned up front and Zak Drew and Will Taylor’s inclusions promised industry in midfield. There was ambition from the get-go as Jon Davies swung in an early corner, one that made Clevedon’s keeper panicked and uncomfortable, flapping at the ball only to win a soft foul before Frome could capitalise. Minutes later, Davies again played a cute ball behind the defensive line only for Ollis to take a heavy touch. It had been an eventful start and wing-back Ross Staley began where he left off against the Larks, collectedly delivering quality crosses.
Frome’s opportunity to open the scoring seemed to have been misspent as Clevedon’s backline settled into the game. Striker Owen Punselie looked to be a real livewire at times, his potent shot repelled by Warren Maidment’s block before he missed out on a header. Admission into the Seasiders’ area was becoming less frequent and the frontline’s energy levels appeared to suffer in the muggy conditions. Davies managed to find space between the defenders, running through into the box onto Zak Drew’s pass before being pushed. Entitled to go down in the challenge, the referee obliged him with his whistle and the playmaker duly blasted a penalty into the roof of the net. Having dropped off, the strut in the Robins’ step was restored, Ollis jumping high but just short as he attempted to meet Sam Teale’s cross and half-time approached.
Frome had stepped up since their victory in the previous round at Falmouth. Their perfect Bank Holiday weekend of two wins and two clean sheets saw them meant they brought their early-season form to this stage of the competition. Clevedon also came into the tie in good nick, unbeaten in seven before today. The Seasiders, despite standing third in the Western League Premier Division, had offered little and their task appeared insurmountable when Staley cut in from the left and sent in a low cross a couple of minutes into the second half to which Jono Davies nipped in front of the defender before directing the ball past the keeper from close range. It was the forward’s 91st goal for the club and his performances have been formidable after starting the season suspended. The hunger for opportunities he kept demonstrating before his replacement, notably his header from Ollis’ cross falling just wide, can only mean he has a ton of strikes within his sights. Fitness permitting, only a fool would bet against him completing the feat this season.
The pragmatism that has characterised their performances of late failed Frome at the wrong time as they became wasteful with chances and Kyle Phillips was forced to dive low and parry a rare chance. As the clock turned redElliot Nicholson came out of a goalmouth scramble with a goal to his name. No longer did the red shirts exhibit workmanlike calm, but instead the atmosphere turned cagey and nervous. To their credit, the home side did not sit back for long, but instead pushed harder. James Ollis side-footed shot found the back of the net at the far end of the ground for the second time in five days to restore some sangfroid to bench, clubhouse and stand alike and secure four wins ion the trot. Monday morning, a rare one that can be looked forward to, and the Second Qualifying Round draw is the reward for those associated with the club. The BA11 support will know exactly who Danny Greaves and his squad are set to face in a couple of weeks when Cirencester visit next Saturday at the usual afternoon kick-off time as the FA Trophy campaign gets off to a start.
Man of the Match: Jon Davies
Match report and live updates provided courtesy of Ryan Atkins and Zeb Baker-Smith
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