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Frome Town 1-0 Hungerford Town – Southern Premier League, Sat. 7th March

A late headed winner from Jack Vallis allowed Frome Town to record successive league victories for the first time this season. 

Town more than matched fourth placed Hungerford  and never looked like losing this game in front of 512 fans.

Manager Adrian Foster kept the same defensive formation that had done so well against Dunstable, but with striker Ben Thomson feeling a reaction after that game and Ollie Taylor still suspended, Ricky Hulbert moved up front at number 10 alongside Lewis Haldane.

Only two minutes had elapsed before Hulbert found himself with a great chance to open the scoring and score his first of the season, as he flicked the ball over a defender allowing himself a clean run on goal, but his second attempt to lob the ball over Paul Strudley resulted in an easy catch for the visiting keeper. Anthony Tonkins showed his experience with an excellent block tackle on Mark Draycott after Jack Vallis had failed to deal with a bouncing ball, and as the match progressed, there was very little in it, and the casual observer in the large crowd would have struggled to identify which of the sides was fourth from top and which was fourth from bottom.

Hungerford did go close in the 28th as James Pilling set up Draycott for a shot but Darren Chitty was equal to it and gathered at the second attempt, and then Frome had their moments as first Vallis nodded a Jon Vance free kick just past the post, and then a long range Vance shot dipped wickedly in front of Strudley, but the experienced keeper was up to the task.

Frome probably had the best of possession and territory leading up to half time, but neither keeper was really troubled and the score remained 0-0 at half time.

The second half quickly moved into a pattern where Hungerford tended to have most of the possession and territory, with a lot of the play in the Frome half, but they failed to make good use of this and the Frome defence always looked capable of dealing with anything that was thrown at them.

Frome looked dangerous on the counter attack but could have done with the pace and power of Ben Thomson to really cause the visitors trouble, and the match looked for long periods as if the 0-0 scoreline would be the final result.

Darren Chitty had to deal with a couple of shots from Hungerford’s Matt Day, the first from around 35 yards and the second from inside his own half, but then Hungerford had their best chance of the match in the 77th as a shot flew across Chitty and seemed to catch the outside of the base of the far post before going out of play.

Just as most of the home crowd were starting to think that this was going to be a well won point, in the 85th minute, Hulbert was fouled on the left of midfield, Smith took the free kick and his perfect delivery was met by the head of Jack Vallis who seemed to hang in the air and guide his header back across the goal into the far top corner with Strudley just getting a touch to it.

The crowd went wild, and with at least nine minutes of time to play, they expected a big reaction from Hungerford to chase the game, but, surprisingly, it didn’t really happen and Frome easily saw out the remaining minutes for another priceless three points in the fight to avoid relegation.

 

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