They say a week is a long time in football. After last Saturday’s disappointment at home to Basingstoke Frome Town proved that even 3 days can be a long time with a fully deserved away victory at previously unbeaten Merthyr Town.
With Merthyr’s artificial pitch in perfect condition there could be no excuses on that front and it benefited both teams style of play. Frome set up a bit more defensively than of late with Sam Teale returning to centre back in place of the injured Marcus Mapstone, Kane Simpson and Dan Demkiv taking on the wide midfield roles and Harry Baker as lone striker.
Strength at the back
Merthyr had most of the early possession, a pattern that was to continue throughout the first half and tried to find their wide players at every opportunity whilst Frome were willing to soak up the pressure and attempt to catch the hosts on the break.
The first real chance came for Merthyr in the 9th minute when a quickly taken throw in caught the Frome defence napping but Connor Roberts got across to block the goal bound shot that cannoned back of the striker for a goal kick and shortly after he was called on again as confusion between Teale and young goalkeeper James Carey allowed the ball to run loose in the area. Roberts clearance found Demkiv on the left who carried the ball to the edge of the Merthyr area but shot wide.
Merthyr keeper injured
A possible turning point in the game came in the 17th minute when the Merthyr ‘keeper Joe Perry was forced to leave the field injured, to be replaced in goal by outfield player Jarrad Wright. There were few clear opportunities for either side although on the half hour mark Demkiv had a close range shot blocked for a corner and he found himself with another opportunity just before half time after the best move of the half involving Baker, Simpson and Kris Scott and the effort was again just wide. Connor Roberts speculative effort from range was over the crossbar and brought the first half to an end.
Second half progress
Merthyr came out with an entirely different approach in the second half and went much more direct with long balls over the top to try and break down the resilient Frome defence but they were for the main comfortable with Sam Teale dominating the aerial battles and Connor Roberts taking control of what was happening on the ground. Frome were breaking quickly when the opportunity arose with Demkiv & Scott both impressive on the counter as well as covering their share of the defensive duties. Frome provided a number of crosses that just evaded the energetic Baker and the game was finely balanced.
Quickfire double In the 64th minute Merthyr had a golden opportunity after a period of pin ball in the Frome are but Carey made a superb point blank save. From the clearance a Merthyr defender under pressure played the ball back to the goalkeeper who picked it up, awarding Frome a free kick just inside the area. Kris Scott touched the ball for Ollie Knowles to drive an unstoppable effort into the far side if the net and give Frome the lead. Just 2 minutes later Scott was provider again as he played a delightful ball to release Harry Baker who beat the last defender and scored low past the ‘keeper to make it 2-0 after 67 minutes.
Merthyr obviously began to press to get back in the game and had a penalty appeal rightly waved away before Roberts made another saving tackle on the 6 yard line. The resultant clearance almost found Baker but the goalkeeper beat him to it with a header that fell to Simpson who unfortunately mishit his shot with the goal wide open.
The hosts pulled a goal back in the 78th minute when a cross from the right was met superbly by Joe Hunt whose header looped over Carey giving him little chance and set the game up for a tense finish. Scott had an effort over the bar whilst Merthyr continued to fire crosses into the Frome area, most being comfortably dealt with.
Baker seal his double
Frome wrapped up the points in the 87th minute as the impressive Baker was on hand to tap in a rebound off the goalkeeper from a Kris Scott shot that was saved. Scott was unlucky again in the 93rd when his goal bound shot was cleared off the line and Frome also had a penalty appeal declined after Simpson appeared to be hauled down in the area.
Overall it was a much needed 3 points and a very pleasing performance. There were several man of the match contenders, Demkiv & Scott who must both surely get a goal soon, Roberts and Baker although it was awarded to Sam Teale for a dominant display in central defence on his return to the side.