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Tavistock 6 - 2 Frome Town

Frome underwent a punishing 6-2 defeat at the hands of Tavistock, their most chastening result of the season. Conceding three times either side of half-time including a brace for Liam Prynn and four for Dylan Jones, a shambolic defensive outing saw the Robins surrender the opportunity to make ground at the table’s summit. Two goals from Zak Drew and Will Taylor sparked the slightest hope, but a showing away from home that was as oblivious as Tavistock’s attack was clinical meant the BA11 side left Devon empty-handed.

The Southern League tie was played against the odds on a raw night, but crucially not a freezing one. The mercury was due to plummet below zero during the game, but an afternoon pitch inspection saw no issue with the underfoot conditions. The fixture was hardly made easier by the logistical challenge of getting to deepest Devon on a Wednesday afternoon, despite a free Saturday looming for both sides. Four games in eleven days prompted Danny Greaves to make a handful changes to the side who had edged out Paulton Rovers last Saturday. Sam Meakes and James Ollis started instead of Jon Davies and Kane Simpson who were left in a strong bench alongside George Rigg who made way for Alex Monks as Ross Staley returned on the left in place of Tom Duffin. Three victories on the bounce had seen the Robins draw level on points with Wimborne at the top of the table after their abandoned fixture on Saturday and tonight offered a suitable opportunity to put pressure on after a late cancellation of Cribbs’ visit to Larkhall.

It was a hair-raising start - an early challenge by defender Warren Maidment in the box granted the home side a penalty after five minutes, one which the Lambs’ striker, Liam Prynn, bane of Frome’s defence last season, slotted past a helpless Kyle Phillips. Blind with panic, the blue shirts of Frome bowed to the early pressure, a mislaid back-pass from Pierce Mitchell allowing Dylan Jones to intercept and double the lead a minute later. Concerningly, the Frome midfield were as at sea as those behind them, their attempts to pass unable to find their intended targets, as Ollis and Meakes were starved of any ball in the opening half an hour. Tavvy snuck in a third, one which appeared to be offside, as Jones received a through-ball and slid a pass across the box, cutting out both Phillips and Maidment, for Prynn to open up the lead.

In recent weeks, goals have looked somewhat unlikely, the attack lacklustre, victories sealed by sole  moments rather than reliability in front of goal. No surprise then that Zak Drew’s low finish to peg Tavistock back before half-time after a neat interchange with Taylor seemed to come from nowhere. It was a glimmer of hope, something to work with, but Frome looked unlikely to salvage anything from the majority of their first-half showing.

Tavistock had completed the double over the Robins last term, their first in the Southern League. The sobering 4-0 reverse at Badgers Hill had preceded a visit to West Devon and the 4-3 defeat on the final day of the season saw the Lambs pip Frome to sixth spot but miss out on a play-off position. This year had so far been a mixed bag for Tavvy, perhaps a case of second-season blues. Postponements meant that the Devon side had only played sixteen games prior to this one, sitting in 16th spot. With a two-goal deficit and plenty of possession, the door was still not closed to the Robins. Will Taylor followed up last week’s injury-time heroics with another strike amid a crowded box to reduce the hosts’ lead and ensure a perfect restart minutes into the second half.

Any sign of promise ended abruptly, however, as Frome reverted to form. the tactical rejig where striker Kane Simpson had replaced centre-back Pierce Mitchell at the break exposed the defence anew. A long ball up ended with Alex Battle’s effort trickling goalwards before Jones, a young forward on loan from Plymouth Parkway, nipped in to make sure, amid another possibly iffy call from the linesman. The approach was scatter-brained, the two remaining centre-backs often vulnerable, the strikers unable to find space, and the crowded midfield struggling for ideas, despite enjoying plenty of ball and territory. Any lingering belief was dispelled when Jones found himself again behind the back-line before rounding Phillips and finding the net with ease for his hat-trick. Substantial damage already done, Jon Davies and Tyson Pollard were brought on to turn the tide, but these were hardly perfect conditions to make any sort of positive impact. The final blow was landed, an innocuous ball back to Phillips hunted down by Jones again who snuck past the keeper to claim a fourth. Six raids on the box and six goals as the home support in attendance began a chorus of ‘Can we play you every week?’. The referee’s early wind-up after the ninety answered the BA11 supporters’ pleas for the punishment to stop.

This must go down as an anomaly, an abject, though rare, performance that must only happen once a season. Whether the circumstances surrounding the fixture were against or the selection a wrong step, this outing, fortunately, is not what the supporters have come to expect from their side this season. A weekend off may not be worst thing for Danny Greaves and his team as the Southern League season begins to hot up and enter its final three months. There is a need to take collective responsibility as a squad and fix the obvious errors, namely that an unacceptable performance at the back allowed a mid-table side in the same division to look like world-beaters. But results like this are, frustratingly, path of the course and, no doubt, there will be ups and downs between now and the end of April. To dust themselves off and prepare for their next assignment, at home against another bogey side, Bashley, a week on Saturday - that is all this side will need to do to make amends. 

Match report and live updates by Zeb Baker-Smith


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Jumping hacksaw blades! Holy six goal thrashings Batman! .Well, I certainly didn't see that one coming? Tavistock have now scored 14 goals against us the last 3 times they've played us.. That must be some sort of record? And... we have to play them at home yet! At the end of the day it's only the loss of three points and there's ample time to recover as other teams will also drop points.. my condolences to anyone who braved the bitter cold and endured a 5 hour round trip round trip to watch our embarrassing capitulation last night. However,

I do recall in 1996 Manchester United got hammered 5-0 at Newcastle and then lost 6-3 at Southampton … and …

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