Updated: Apr 8
Frome Town earned a deserved away win over division strugglers Slimbridge. Striker Sam Meake’s second-half goal, his first for the club, proved the pivotal action in a knife-edge encounter. The Robins worked hard in defence, particularly in an anxious last ten minutes, to record a third consecutive clean sheet and condemn the Swans to near-certain relegation.
Once again Danny Greaves’ hands were tied, a grand total of twelve fit players to choose his side from, and he was forced to name himself and his assistant on the bench. Midfielder Tyson Pollard came in for Jono Davies, resting their attacking asset in preparation for a taxing week ahead. Injuries were one point of concern, but confidence in front of goal had utterly abandoned Frome in successive fixtures, Though the BA11 side had struggled and toiled, the two recent goalless draws at home had accorded them very little in the way of results and points, the supporters' frustration growing with the lack of resolve when in range of goal.
The goal-starved Robins were under pressure then against a Slimbridge side who have found themselves cut adrift at the foot of the table. Though the likelihood of their own relegation was slim, Frome in fourteenth-place before today had to remain wary of movements behind them. The visitors began with intent on the banks of the Severn. The industrious Conrad Essilfie-Conduah showed ambition when he dispossessed some lazy defending by Slimbridge and tried his luck, the home side's keeper ably diving to his left. It seemed that the shackles were off for Frome who actively looked to force a long-awaited goal.
Soon after Essilfie-Conduah looked up and chipped between Slimbridge defenders, searching out striker Meakes whose turn-and-shot was blocked expertly by Lewis Adams, the first in a sequence of instinctive saves by the hosts’ goalkeeper. Opportunities began to pile up for the Robins, but Slimbridge’s defence scraped by, forward Zak Drew cutting in from the left and blasting a shot goalwards, thwarted only by a sliding block from defender Geddes. Owen Humphries displayed his willingness to shoot from the left, his well-struck effort met by another diving save.
For all of Frome’s apparent desire to score, the Robins required focus at the back, the diminutive front three of Slimbridge sidling past the back three on occasion, causing moments of fright and making their presence known to Kyle Phillips. As the first half came to a close, there was a strong possibility of a third consecutive goalless draw.
Though Slimbridge have struggled this season though, their form in recent weeks had turned, stealing points off play-off hopefuls with a win and two draws. Seven points adrift from their county rivals Cinderford and eight off Manor Farm, the question remained whether the home side could enact a great escape, and, if so, a win today would be crucial. An age had passed since Frome’s emphatic 4-1 win over the Swans on their visit to Badgers Hill back in the autumn, a brace each for James Ollis and Luke Hopper that afternoon, and the Robins had only recorded five victories since that November fixture.
The impetus and attacking freedom seemed to have been lost in the minutes after the break. Danny Greaves’ side failed to capitalise on Humphries’ free-kick from promising positions and their passes in the final third lacked precision. The introduction of Davies in place of Pollard with half an hour to go did not take long to have an effect. The playmaker laid the ball off cannily to Humphries whose floated shot clipped off the crossbar. Sam Meakes was quick to react, managing to jab his effort towards the goal. Time stood still, hairs turned grey(er) before the ball trickled past the line. A first goal in over 340 minutes of football and merited too.
Brilliant saves from Adams, a point-blank block off Drew’s diving header the pick of them, prevented any further lead. Nonetheless, there was plenty of defending still to do for Frome. Teale continued to head away countless crosses in from both flanks and, after clearing a dangerous delivery from Marley Thomas, unleashed constant verbal barrage at his side. A win would only be Frome’s fourth in the league in 2023 and the skipper wanted these three points desperately. A couple of Slimbridge set-pieces, so often the bitter pill this season, were seen off, Thomas again forcing a chance when he cut in from the left and caressed a goal-bound shot which required Phillips to tip away in the dying embers.
The relief was palpable at the final whistle, the players gratefully applauding the travelling fans who week-after-week keep the faith despite a painful run. This was a Good Friday gift to them, the securing of three points on a bank holiday as kind as the sunny weather. Frome jump to tenth place after a result that whets the appetite for the season’s penultimate week, one in which the squad will have to endure three games in six days. The visit of Melksham, who remain within reach, on Easter Monday is now the focus and all eyes will be on Badgers Hill for what promises to be a compelling clash of the counties.
Live updates and match report written by Zeb Baker-Smith