Frome Town recorded a rare goalless draw at Lymington to put an end to a wretched run of results away from home. Though the Robins had the edge on their hosts by virtue of chances, neither side can claim to have been at all clinical during the ninety minutes. The points were shared and the BA11 side will be relieved to have stood firm.
After a full update from the manager on his squad’s fitness was published this morning, it is clear that this Frome side just need to make do over the next few weeks while players return and further signings can be made. The addition of the experienced centre-back, Pierce Mitchell was a welcome bit of business to bolster a threadbare backline. The 26-year old defender, who has racked up 100 appearances for Taunton Town in the Southern Premier Division, came in for Ben Withey, the latest casualty to limp off early in last week’s defeat at Bideford.
With Mitchell’s presence at the back and the inclusion of Reece Rusher, who made his first start in over a month, Frome appeared to rediscover confidence and conviction. A fast start almost saw Frome go ahead within three minutes, when an innocuous pass was spilt by the hosts’ goalkeeper and a surprised James Ollis mistimed his shot onto the roof of the net. The striker and his dependable companion in attack, Jono Davies, caught scent of Lymington’s early discomfort, the former’s feet not quick enough to shoot as a tackle came in and the latter testing the keeper's nerves with a speculative drive at goal.
Midway through the opening half, it was clear that Frome’s most likely attacking recourse was via the right flank. There were neat passes and plenty of application shown by Rusher, Ollis and Owen Humphries, through whose vital work tracking back and the Linnets’ left-back was forced into an error and gave away possession. Davies took the opportunity to catapult his shot from the edge of the area, but the keeper, diving to his right and gloving the ball away for a corner, was equal to the attempt.
Lymington’s early season form had been poor, only picking up their first points in October after equalising late on at Badgers Hill. Since then, however, the Hampshire side have been grinding out some crucial victories to pull clear of the relegation zone, including an impressive win away at rivals Cinderford in midweek. Aside from the odd bit of danger from set-pieces, the Linnets had caused the Frome defence little consternation in the first half. Clanking into gear during the second half, several attacks were mounted down the right flank but to no avail, as Jago Thompson-Roberts, growing in confidence with every game, shut down any clear opportunities.
Though chances were more evenly spread after half-time, Frome will rue their fruitless spell of possession and the unrealised danger they posed late on, when substitute Jack Witcombe nearly had the perfect introduction. The wingback met a perfect cross from Ollis with a close-range header that rebounded off the keeper. Seconds later, Owen Humphries went mightily close with a shot over the bar, the bounce and bobble proving to be just too much to gain any control over the ball. There was a handball shout when Ben Starr’s cross appeared to strike the Lymington defender’s arm, before Conrad Essilfie-Conduah’s impressive manoeuvre into the box. The rangy midfielder hurdled and ducked past several tackles before firing his shot over the bar. The final minutes, however, saw blue shirts tire and Lymington were gifted two opportunities in front of goal themselves, their striker dancing past the defence and shanking his effort, before Kyle Phillips was forced to smother an injury-time shot with his dive.
The Frome squad will have remember last season’s visit to the Sports Ground, when a Jono Davies hat-trick secured a bittersweet second-place finish in the league. How far away the fearless and free-scoring approach of last year seems. Having gone winless in their last seven away games in the league, a run stretching back to defeat at Paulton Rovers in early November, it was crucial that Frome saw a game through without succumbing to what has often felt an inevitable late winner for he opposition. A goalless draw against one of the league’s most nuggety sides (32 points from 30) may not seem to be a result of consequence, But, as those who were absent return from injury and promised signings begin to arrive, Danny Greaves can point to the defensive spine on display here, lay claim to having had the better of the chances and, ultimately, inspire his players to better times ahead.
Match report and live updates by Zeb Baker-Smith