Frome Town U18's did everything right up until the finish as they drew this crucial home game in the title run-in to leave their hopes hanging by a thread with rivals Street & Chard both having better goal difference and in Street’s case games in hand.
Frome gave debuts to new signings defender Wheeler and ex-Swindon academy ace attacker Wilf as they looked to continue building their squad both for the run-in and for next season.
Frome also tried a slightly different balance in the midfield area with box to box midfield creator Farley no longer able to play for the side Frome tried two out and out holding players in utility player Brewster and usual holding midfield man Lunt to try and improve the protection for the defence as an increased number of dedicated defensive midfielders provides extra insurance against counter attacks the most dangerous form of attack.
With the aerially powerful new addition Wheeler added at centre back and usual right side attacker Pollock who is also strong aerially dropped in to right back to accommodate Wilf at false nine.
Frome now had on paper and it turned out in practice a more defensively solid setup than in previous games where crosses & corners especially have caused consternation in the Frome defence although not in this game, which territorially and in terms of chances Frome were able to dominate.
The problem Frome had on the night was essentially that Cheddar sat deep and looked to counter attack but to their credit applied enough pressure on goal kicks to force Frome to go longer from their keeper into their fullbacks rather than straight into central midfield which is more dangerous as a central midfielder has more options on the ball than a wide fullback in terms of angles.
Because of this most of Frome’s build up involved building up from wide areas & switching the play before looking for final balls in terms of low crosses or through balls or diagonals.
Frome’s players though mostly produced low crosses from wide areas in this first half rather than diagonals or through passes which is an indicator that Frome still need to do more work on how to break down a deep block as the coordinated movements still do not quite seem to be there in terms of through passes and runs especially.
Frome’s players’ ability to dribble the ball well and perform combination play was very good though with Wilf, Crossman, Seviour & Porter all excelling in this respect.
Frome must have had at least ten first half chances but could not convert with the closest they came to scoring being a Seviour header that seemed goal bound but was tipped over by the keeper. Defensively Frome were solid with Cheddar barely getting a look in with new defender Wheeler imperious along with Pollock, vice-captain Boulton & the effervescent fullback Clacee.
However with Frome needing a goal and with the dual defensive midfielder system deemed a success Frome re-organised just before half time to a slightly more offensive midfield system with just one defensive midfielder in Lunt with Brewster now at right back, Wilf joining skipper Seviour as a box to box midfielder and Pollock pushing up to right side striker with Crossman now false 9.
The story of the second half was similar to the first barring the fact Frome were now clearly more susceptible to counter attacks with the second defensive midfielder now missing allowing Cheddar to create 3 or 4 decent chances on the counter whereas in the first half they had none. However Frome now were now more threatening with both Seviour & Wilf pulling the strings from in-front of holding player Lunt.
Pollock got in behind after diagonals were played on 3 or 4 occasions but could not convert, Wilf beat 3 or 4 men but couldn’t get his shot away while Seviour’s long range shot went wide. Pollock’s crosses twice flashed across the goal with no one able to turn them in, while at one point it seemed the ball may potentially have crossed the line but the Cheddar keeper’s quick hands meant no goal could be given with 100 percent certainty.
The game ended scoreless as Frome failed to take their chances against what was a skillful, well organised and determined Cheddar side who gave their all and stuck to their well-structured game plan.
In terms of how to improve and lessons learned Frome need to work on how to break down a deep lying block in terms of through passes and runs (Phase of incision) and how to attack crosses (attack near post, far post and edge as a bare minimum on a cross) also Frome must play out of the back centrally more often to increase options on the ball and make it harder for the opposition to defend rather than building up in wider areas which is easier for the opposition to defend.
Still Frome can be happy with their efforts with the defensive aspect of their system & play showing clear improvement compared to previous games and the domination of possession and amount of chances created all excellent. Credit must also be given to Cheddar for their good execution of their game plan.
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