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Frome Town 2-1 Slough Town – FA Trophy 2nd Qualifying Round, Saturday 14th November

In a gusting wind and pouring rain, this was a good, old fashioned, rip-roaring cup tie that went right to the final whistle.

The match saw Frome progress to the next round thanks to two first half goals from Mitchell Page and Darren Jefferies, and despite a hugely controversial decision that saw them reduced to 10 men with 20 minutes to play.

With Frome still missing Kris Miller, Jordan Walker and Steve Hulbert through injury and with Marcus Mapstone, Ricky Hulbert and Tyler Sibbick all unavailable, the squad was fairly depleted, and with Darren Chitty back for his second match after injury, Dan Lloyd-Weston was on the bench in case of a recurrence of the  injury.

In the first notable incident of the match, Slough took the lead in the 4th minute as a right wing cross from Warren Harris was missed by two defenders and Lewis Putman made no mistake from 12 yards out, beating Chitty and blazing into the roof of the net.

It was key for the home side to recover quickly from this setback, and they did four minutes later as a Jon Davies right wing corner was clipped into the near post and new signing Mitchell Page ghosted into position and flicked the ball cleanly into the net for his first goal for the Club.

The heavy pitch, wind and rain was having a big say in this match and Frome were probably having the better of it, with Davies letting fly over the bar from 25 yards in the 11th minute, but Slough always look dangerous whenever they got the ball out to the speedy Warren Harris on the right, and a minute later another perfect cross found Putman in space but this time Chitty did really well to save with his legs.

A period of Frome pressure on the quarter hour led to three corners in quick succession, and with Rob Hobbs curling a 25 yard shot just past the far post and Page heading into the arms of Mark Scott shortly afterwards, it seemed certain that more goals would follow.

However, Slough continued to look dangerous and another Harris cross was clipped over the bar by Charlie Mpi and as Ryan Hope just failed to hit the target in the 30th, this was becoming a hard match to predict the outcome of.

Frome took the lead in the 33rd minute as the ever dangerous Davies found a few yards of space and was able to produce a curling 25 yard shot that Scott was only able to parry into the path of Darren Jefferies who did very well to follow up and drive the ball into the net off the inside of the near post.

After yet another right wing cross from Slough’s  Harris, Chitty elected to punch the ball clear, but was grateful to Jordy Nkunga for clearing the ball off the line after the punch had failed to get any real distance.

A great ball from Corby Moore out to Davies allowed him to round the keeper, but he struggled to get a shot on target from an acute angle, and on the stroke of half time, Liam Monelle picked up a justified yellow card for a rash tackle on Justin Claytop that would prove to be very significant later on.

With Frome leading 2-1 at half time, Slough started to push up and play a higher line, but they were almost caught cold in the 47th minute as Jefferies and Monelle combined well to set up a shooting chance for the latter that just cleared the far post.

Two minutes later, controversy erupted as Monelle’s pace allowed him to get the better of  Justin Claytop, and as he accelerated into the empty penalty area, he appeared to be tripped and the home team and supporters confidently expected a penalty as the referee’s whistle went. However, Mr Wade saw things differently and awarded the free kick to Slough, obviously implying that he thought Monelle had dived.

Slough started to look ominous with their possession and territory advantage, and after a good last ditch tackle by Stuart Dickin and a flare up involving Jon Davies and Leigh Rumbold that resulted in three yellow cards in total, came the moment of intense controversy.

In the 70th minute a deflected shot from Darren Jefferies was cleared off the line Claytop with Scott well beaten, and as Frome continued to apply the pressure, the ball was played to Monelle who accelerated across his marker and was clearly fouled just outside the Slough penalty area.

To the absolute astonishment of everyone in the ground, Mr Wade decided once again that he had dived and produced a second yellow, followed by the obligatory red card in what was the most bizarre refereeing decision most supporters can remember.

The match now stepped up in intensity and a great Chitty save denied Rumbold an equaliser as he hit a classic free kick towards goal, but then Frome went so close to sealing the match in the 84th minute as first Davies was denied by a combination of Claytop and Scott, then a Rob Hobbs shot was saved by the legs of Scott and James Fitzgibbon was also denied by the legs of the Slough keeper.

The 5th minute of injury time saw Slough’s goalkeeper come up for a final corner and as he headed the ball just wide of the far post, Mr Wade blew the final whistle and the home supporters celebrated a fine win in the face of adversity.

Centre back Jordy Nkunga was awarded the H&B Tyres Man of the Match Award by representatives of Red Devil Surfacing Ltd who had sponsored the match, and his pace and reading of the game are a huge boost to Frome when the chips are down. Crowd: 151. Entertainment Value: 5/5.