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Frome Town 0-2 Bideford – Southern Premier League, Sat. 24th Jan.

Despite Frome having several chances and hitting the woodwork twice, Bideford fully deserved their 2-0 victory, and the worrying lack of a response from Frome suggested that relegation is now becoming more of a certainty than a possibility.

Ed Baldy returned to take his place between the sticks after his FA Vase heroics with Bradford Town, and Mark Cooper returned to right back after suspension, Cameron Brown started on the right wing with Kris Miller still out through injury. New signings Josh Legg and Matt Cunnington took their places on the bench.

As seems to be the norm these days, Frome started brightly as Lewis Haldane fired over in the first minute and Ollie Taylor brought a save from Steve Oliver a minute later, but it almost seems that if an early goal fails to arrive, then the side seem to lose confidence, and Bideford came back into the match and started to cause Frome problems at the back in a game where neither side seemed to be able to string together more than a few passes.

Mark Coooper did well to get back and foil Ben Wood in the 10th as a Frome free kick left them badly  exposed in the centre of the pitch, with Bideford exploiting the space to move the ball quickly forward, but then Frome went close in the 26th as Taylor cut inside and rolled the ball to Haldane who shot across goal and saw the ball come back off the post to safety.

After Taylor had again hit the post from a tight angle, Bideford took the lead in the 36th minute as a Wood shot was deflected for a left wing corner, and as it was hit across the Frome area, Chris McGrath rose unchallenged at the far post to head cleanly downwards into the net.

The second half started with Frome going closest as Cameron Brown fed the ball to Taylor who brought a save at the near post from Oliver, and from the resulting corner a header from Taylor was clawed away by Oliver, and a minute later Taylor was put through by Rodriguez only to shoot high and wide with Haldane screaming for the ball to be played to him.

Worryingly, after the initial flurry, once again the impetus disappeared and Frome just seemed to roll over and start going through the motions, meaning that  Bideford really didn’t have to be very good to stay in command of the match and maintain their lead.

With every 50:50 challenge being won by the visitors, they could afford to just sit tight, close down the space  and wait for the inevitable possession that would come their way, often without having to make a challenge.

Bideford were awarded a penalty in the 80th minute as Rhys Baggridge was adjudged to have fouled Ben Wood, who seemed to go to ground rather easily, and, as often seems to be case,  debatable penalties are missed, and so it proved this time as Bideford captain Richard Groves struck his spot kick firmly against the base of the post and it rebounded almost to the far touch line.

This let off should have galvanised Frome into action to go and look for the equaliser, but again it just didn’t happen and apart from a flurry of activity in the 87th following a corner, they never looked like scoring or really troubling the Bideford defence at all.

With the home crowd despairing at the lack of passion on display, salt was really rubbed into the wounds as, in the 4th minute of stoppage time, Bideford’s Sean Downing was clean through on goal before being taken down by Ed Baldy in what appeared to be a foul outside the box, however the referee pointed to the spot and this time Groves buried his spot kick just inside the same post that he had previously hit, and Frome’s miserable afternoon was now complete.

Mark Cooper was chosen for the “H&B Tyres Man of the Match Award” by match sponsors Moss, Taylor and Young and it was a fitting reward for a player who gave everything for the entire match.

Frome Scorers: None. Bideford Scorers: McGrath (36), Groves (90+4)p. Crowd: 194. Star Man: Mark Cooper. Entertainment Value: 2/5.