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Frome Town 0-1 Poole Town – Evo-Stik Southern Premier, Friday 26th Dec.

On a freezing cold day in pouring rain and a swirling wind, Frome Town more than matched table topping Poole Town for long periods of this match, but in the end this matched hinged on one moment of luck, Poole made the most of it, took their chance and consequently all three points.

Frome were pleased to see the return of Matt Smith to the starting line up after a lengthy spell of injury, goalkeeper Ed Balding was drafted into the squad due to the injury that looks like keeping Darren Chitty out for several weeks, and, for the first time this season, Mark Cooper started at right back allowing Kris Miller to move forward and Brandon Mundy took the left back position.

After the seven goal thrashing at Poole on August Bank Holiday, Frome were keen to redress the balance, and on a very click pitch in pouring rain and a cold, swirling wind, the match started very evenly with neither side able to get complete mastery of the conditions.

The first real incident of the match happened in the 26th as Baldy did well to save low after a dangerous Poole move, but then Frome counter attacked immediately and good work from Ben Thomson led to a Ricky Hulbert shot that went high and wide.

Frome’s tactical changes were starting to produce benefits as Miller was able to use his pace in a more attacking role, and a crisp right wing cross in the 32nd was only just flicked away for a corner by a sliding Jamie Whisken,  with Frome almost setting up a shooting opportunity from the corner.

With Baldy looking very assured in the Frome goal, the midfield working well and the attack continuously threatening the Poole goal, it would have been hard for a neutral bystander to pick the table topping side as it was that even, but with Poole only having conceded 13 goals all season, it was going to take something special for Frome to score.

After Frome had threatened  several times, on the stroke of half time it was Poole who went closest to opening the scoring as a left wing free kick led to the ball being headed back across goal for Whisken to head onto the base of the far post, the ball coming back along the goal line into the arms of the grateful Baldy.

The second half started with the rain getting heavier, the wind getting stronger and slide tackles taking players ten yards or so before they stopped. Consequently, most of the play was in midfield with occasional breaks, and it was from one of these in the 64th minute that Poole scored.

A break on the right by Luke Burbridge allowed him to hit a low shot towards the base of the Frome near post, and as the ball squirmed through the hands of Baldy, it seemed that it might trickle over the line, but Baggridge was on hand to tidy up, and as he turned and hit his clearance, the ball hit the referee, changed direction completely and flew perfectly into the path of the unmarked Steve Devlin who hit a low shot into the corner giving Baldy no chance.

You certainly couldn’t fault Frome’s response to going one goal down as they took the game to Poole for the remainder of the match, with Haldane bringing a save from Nick Hutchings in the 83rd and Jack Vallis doing the same in the 89th, but at the end of the day, Poole showed why they have conceded so few goals this season and Frome never really managed to fashion a clear cut goal scoring opportunity in the remaining minutes.

Captain Rhys Baggridge  was chosen for the “H&B Tyres Man of the Match Award” by match sponsor Kevin Corcoran Carpets (who had also sponsored the ball and programme) and this was certainly a good choice on a day when there were many candidates.

Crowd: 302. Star Man: Rhys Baggridge. Entertainment Value: 4