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Banbury United 1-1 Frome Town – Southern Premier League, Sat. 10th Jan.

A first half goal from Frome’s Aaron Rodriguez was cancelled out by a second half Banbury penalty, and though Frome had the better of the final stages against 10 man Banbury after Jack Westbrook had been sent off, they couldn’t quite find the elusive winner and the points were shared.

Though this match was between two teams in the bottom five of the Southern Premier, both were starting to show signs of recent recovery, with Banbury only having lost once in their last four games and including a very impressive 5-1 victory  at high flying Cirencester on Boxing Day, and Frome coming off the back of an impressive home victory against Histon.

Frome were without the services of Mark Cooper as he started a two match suspension and Ben Worlock dropped back to play at right back with Jake Harris coming into the starting line up on the right of midfield.

In a strong swirling wind that would prove troublesome throughout, the match started evenly, with Banbury the first to have a chance as a dangerous left wing cross from  Ben Whitehead found the head of  Leam Howards at the near post, but his attempt cleared the bar.

In the 13th, Frome almost went behind as a corner was swung over and a free header from Marvin Martin required Ben Worlock to clear off the line, and the resulting corner ended with a shot straight into the body of Ed Baldy.

Frome’s first chance arrived in the 15th as Aaron Rodriguez showed good close control to drift inside and set up Lewis Haldane who turns well, but his shot lacked  power and Leigh Bedwell saved low down.

After a twisting, turning run from Banbury’s Jordan Green had led to a shot over from 25 yards, Frome took the lead in the 22nd as Ollie Taylor played the ball out to the left and Rodriguez scored a superb trademark goal as he cut inside, twisted and turned, beat three defenders and fired superbly into the top corner.

Ed Baldy showed his class in the 41st as he rushed off his line to dive at his feet and  deny Jordan Green after a skilful run had beaten two defenders, and after Banbury’s Jack Westbrook had headed wide from a free kick, Ollie Taylor had a chance to increase Frome’s lead on the stroke of half time as he brought a save from Bedwell from a tight angle with Haldane screaming for the ball to be pulled back to him.

The second half saw Frome start well as Haldane chipped a perfect ball to Taylor who went past his defender and shot past Bedwell, only for the ball to be cleared off the line by a defender, and for the second match running Frome found themselves playing against 10 men as Banbury’s Jack Westbrook was shown a straight red for raising his hands to an opponent in the Frome penalty area.

After Banbury had survived a big penalty appeal in the 61st as Taylor appeared to be flattened as he was clean through, Matt Smith saw a deflected shot clear the bar after he had been set up by good work from Rodriguez and Haldane.

Against the run of play, Banbury equalised from the penalty spot as Ricky Hulbert appeared to deliberately handle the ball on the goal line and Jacob Walcott scored from the spot, with the referee confirming afterwards that the ball had been going wide so he had no need to show a red card to Hulbert.

The remainder of the match saw Frome desperately going for the winner and in the 70th they went close as a Haldane free kick brought a save from Bedwell, who then did well to recover and save again as Matteus was first to the rebound, and six minutes later Taylor again brought a save from Bedwell with Haldane again pleading for the ball to be pulled back to him.

As the match entered the last 10 minutes, Taylor twice went close, but each time Bedwell produced great saves to deny him and with the last chance of the match coming as a Frome corner caused all sorts of problems in the Banbury area, it just wasn’t going to happen and the points were shared.

Ricky Hulbert  was chosen for the “H&B Tyres Man of the Match Award”.