Goals: Pollock*4, Porter, Hardwick, Green}
Team; Bond Carver A.Welch Rose J.Rendle
R.Hearne Mead Lunt(C) Pollock Porter Cagilaba
Subs: F.Gharban K.Balchin Green Hardwick
Dugout: FosuGharban(M) TomBond
Frome Town U18 returned to early preseason action with this entertaining win against an impressive Stiffs side made good use of wide play, set pieces and crosses to trouble Frome in the air all game. Frome were missing new recruits WheelerJnr, Charlie, Brotherton, Davies & Wells. In addition Captain Seviour had a first team call up for the Chippenham match while new Vice captain Brewster was also unavailable. Experienced defender Wheeler along with Pack, Barnaby, Mori, Russell, keeper Seth & Gould were also missing.
With the majority of their defence and midfield missing Frome called up help with old timers (manager) and Balchin on the bench while young coach Rendle helped out at left back while another adult Welch started at the back with Hearne a former Frome U16 managers player of the season a few years back started in defensive midfield along side Mead, last seasons most improved U18 player, who gave a scintillating & disciplined performance in a dual defensive midfield pivot with Hearne & Mead provided a platform from where Frome controlled midfield.
With the two players always sitting and then distributing the ball neatly Frome were solid and difficukt to counter attack in addition this midfield base gave skilful skipper Lunt license to run absolute riot. Lunts dribbling and diagonal balls gave a supply line to the front three of Cagilaba, Pollock & Porter who were all dropping into to create overloads at appropriate times to ensure Frome could always build play from the back by achieving numerical superiority around the ball during buildup. Porter was particularly effective in his false 9 role both acting a playmaker by dropping deep at times but also not afraid to threaten in behind with runs after coming short to link play. Pollock was a powerhouse who played narrow at the right times as did Cagilaba on the other side. This narrow play gave Frome's fullbacks Carver & Rendle space to overlap, an aggressive possession based approach with good individual dribbling skills from the front 4 was set.
Frome took the lead within the first few minutes through Pollock's angled strike after running through off a through pass. Frome then made more chances but the Stiffs were breaking into wide areas quite well and after winning a wide set piece got an equalizer after Hearne's brave headed flicked clearance fell to a Stiffs player who then converted. Frome however had a good pattern of play with Mead moving well to aid playing from the back and Welch & Rose prepared to split to aid playing out. Frome went on to establish a 5-2 lead with Pollock making it 2-1 with an angled finish, before Porter, who had a header from a corner cleared off the line, scored a neat 1v1 finish for 3-1 before Pollock added two more clinical finishes. One finish high into the roof of the net was particularly eyecatching. However at 4-2 Stiffs pulled yet another goal back from a cross which floated into the net over keeper Bond to leave the score at 5-2 at half time.
The second half saw a raft of changes. Hardwick was very impressive with his dribbling on the left while Green showed excellent touch and distribution while Balchin rolled back the years as he won tackles and headers as the Stiffs threatened with a raft of good quality crosses while manager Gharban also got minutes. The Stiffs made it 5-3 after a penalty kick for a handball but Frome scored for 6-3 after a brilliant dribble cutting inside from the left allowed the skilful Hardwick to curl the ball past the keeper from close range. The Stiffs then made it 6-4 with yet another cross and header after a counter attack after a Frome corner, but Green with superb touch and turn and low finish in the penalty area made it 7-4.
Frome can be happy with this win against an aerially strong Stiffs side who pushed them hard defensively and made it clear that last seasons issues aerially at the back are yet to be resolved. Frome also were struggling with being counter attacked off corners in the second half as they looked to push extra men into the box to make up for their relative lack of ability in the air compared to the Stiffs, however this then meant Frome were not structured correctly to deal with the second phase of the corner (clearance) making them far too easy to counter attack. Also Frome's pressing actions particularly in central midfield were not being properly executed with respects to pressure and cover with the first midfielders press often easily bypassed as there would be insufficient cover from the second deep midfield player. Frome though can be very happy with their dribbling, diagonal balls, movement and playing out of the back through the thirds.
All in all it was a good exerciase to improve basic match fitness and to begin addressing some tactical work.