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Sat. 10th February. Evo-Stik Southern Premier Frome Town 1 Royston Town 4

Despite Frome taking the lead in the 5th through Joe Raynes, Royston struck back twice to lead 2-1 at half time, and with Frome going down to ten men in the 52nd, two further goals from the visitors sealed a relatively comfortable victory.

With Frome on a good run of form and Royston Town two places higher and with two points more, this had the prospect of being a classic. After the recent weather conditions, the pitch was “just about playable” and would prove to be a major factor in the match and would make good football very difficult.

The only difference to Frome’s squad was the inclusion of Ryan Bath in the starting line up in place of the suspended Mitchell Page, and Frome were still awaiting the return of Sam Teale from suspension.

On a pitch that was obviously going to cut up badly as the match went on, the match kicked off with Kyle Phillips making a great save to push away a  Sam Corcoran shot as he broke through the defensive line and with Chas Hemmings making a very good block as Royston followed up, the home crowd breathed a sigh of relief.

At the other end, Frome scored with their first attack of the match in the 5th minute as Darren Jefferies went on a good run down the left wing and pulled the ball back perfectly for the unmarked Joe Raynes to shoot home from twelve yards. With Hemmings hitting the base of the post from outside the area after Bath had set him up, and Jon Davies almost curling a free kick in at the far post in the 13th, Frome had started well.

There was some lovely interchange football between Hemmings and George Milller, setting Raynes up for another shot that skimmed the far post in the 19th. It was looking good, but sport has a habit of producing the unexpected and after Rohdell Gordon had won a right wing corner, the unmarked Scott Bridges had the easiest of tasks to head home at the near post to equalise in the 20th.

With the ball starting to stick to the pitch in midfield, Royston again went close in the 22nd as Corcoran curled a shot just wide of the far post. The  visitors made it 2-1 in the 30th as the dangerous Gordon jinked in from the left wing, going left, then right before curling a 15 yard shot past Phillips and into the far corner.

With Jefferies almost equalising in the 34th as he was put through by a great ball from George Miller, and Raynes heading a Davies corner over the bar in the 42nd, at half time a 2-2 draw would have been a more accurate reflection on the half, but Royston went in with their noses in front.

The match changed dramatically in the 52nd as a flare up resulted in a bout of pushing and shoving between most of the players on the pitch. When the dust had settled, the referee showed Raynes a straight red card and a yellow for one of the Royston players.

Opinions in the crowd varied on what had happened, but most seemed to think that Frome had been hard done by, and even that the wrong player(s) had been penalised. We will never know, but the Frome players certainly seemed incensed by the decision.

In the conditions on the day, the loss of a hard working midfielder was always going to count, and so it proved as Royston moved into the driving seat and started to threaten. Phillips did well in the 67th to save with Marcus Mapstone quick to help out, and saved again five minutes later in similar fashion.

However, Frome did threaten during the second half, but it always seemed that the final ball was never quite what it should have been, and in the 78th, Royston capitalised on a couple of defensive mistakes as the ball started to stick in the mud and Gordon shot home into the far corner to effectively seal the match at 3-1 to the visitors.

Phillips made another great save in the 85th to tip a shot from Bridges over the bar after Josh Castiglione had put him clear, and after substitute Joe Hankins had shot into the side netting in the 89th, he made no mistake shortly after as a poor clearance allowed him an unopposed run on goal and his shot buried itself in the far corner to make it 4-1 and rub salt into the wound.

Chas Hemmings was awarded the H&B Tyres Man of the Match Award and on a day when even walking on the pitch would have been tiring, the midfielder got through a huge amount of work.

Colin Carpenter

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