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Frome Town 2-3 Arlesey Town, Southern Premier League, Sat. 17th Jan.

Defensive frailties and a missed penalty cost Frome Town dearly in this game as they lost by the odd goal in five to Arlesey Town, who then moved above them in the relegation battle.

With Ed Baldy having been recalled to Bradford on Avon for their FA Vase tie and Darren Chitty still recovering from injury, Lewis Pierre was started in goal for the first time for a couple of months. Brandon Mundy and Mark Cooper were still suspended and Jon Vance and Ben Thomson were still recovering from injury.

On a sticky, well sanded pitch, Frome started brightly with Ben Worlock dinking a perfect ball through to Lewis Haldane who hit his snapshot just wide, and a few minutes later Ollie Taylor went on a mazy run that took him through several challenges before being denied a shooting chance.

Frome had the ball in the net in the 12th minute as Rhys Baggridge headed home an Aaron Rodriguez free kick, only for the linesman’s flag to rule it out for offside, and after Taylor had brought a save from Nick Thomson, Arlesey had their first chance as Pierre had to back pedal frantically to just tip over a long range lob that was dropping into the net.

After a 20th minute Frome corner had led to an Arlesey break away, Kim Forsyth found himself clean through and his lob over Pierre hit the bar and  bounced harmlessly away, but the writing was on the wall, and Arlesey took the lead three minutes later as Pierre called for the ball and slid out to collect only for Hallelujah Basmel to beat him to it and loft the ball into the empty net.

Frome carried on looking dangerous and Haldane set up Taylor for a shot into Thomson’s body in the 27th he repeated the trick a few minutes later, and after a Matt Smith header from a corner was punched away by Thomson in the 41st, you were starting to get the feeling that it might be “one of those days”.

However, Frome were thrown a lifeline in injury time as a good Rodriguez run set Worlock loose in the penalty area, and as he poked the ball through, he was taken down by the goalkeeper Thomson, who immediately redeemed himself by throwing himself to his left to save the penalty from Kris Miller who is normally lethal from the penalty spot.

Games of football can hinge on single incidents, and in the 48th minute, Pierre saved a point blank header from Basmel and immediately set in motion a Frome move that ended with Haldane finding Taylor on the left who then rounded Thomson and rolled the ball into the empty net for a fine equaliser.

The euphoria didn’t last long however as three minutes later a disputed right wing corner was taken by the right foot of Arlesey’s George Ironton, and as the ball flew across the goal it seemed to pass right through the hands of Pierre and ended up in the corner of the net to put Arlesey 2-1 up.

After Rodriguez had produced a great run with a shot that just deflected for a corner, the gloom deepened in the 65th minute as Ironton  made it 3-1 to Arlesey from the penalty spot  after Pierre had impeded Basmel who was clean through following a missed clearance.

Frome looked to immediately strike back and Haldane produced a perfect cross that enabled Taylor to hit the sweetest of volleys only to be denied by the save of the match from Thomson as he pushed it away for a corner.

However, after this Frome seemed to have lost the will to take the game to their opponents and Arlesey were looking fairly comfortable sat on their lead and running the game in midfield, but Frome were thrown another lifeline in the 85th as substitute Cameron Brown charged down a clearance from the Arlesey keeper, the ball ran perfectly for him and he rolled the ball into the net to make it 3-2 and keep alive the possibility of an exciting finish.

In reality, it never really happened and Frome’s best chance of equalising came with a minute to go as Hulbert was fouled three yards outside the box and Rodriguez curled the ball a foot over the bar, when a Haldane pile driver was probably the preferred option at that point.

The home crowd expressed their displeasure at the final whistle, and again, this was a match that Frome could and should have taken something from.