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Sat. 3rd February. Evo-Stik Southern Premier Stratford Town 1 Frome Town 2

An early goal from Joe Raynes and a second half header from Marcus Mapstone soon after Frome had gone down to ten men led to an excellent 2-1 victory at Stratford Town, with the hosts snatching a consolation goal right at then end through Ben Stephens.

Frome were pleased to welcome Ollie Knowles back into the squad after a couple of years with Truro City and more recently with Tiverton, but the starting line up was the same as last week apart from the return to the side of influential playmaker Jon Davies. After a string of impressive performances, Ben Griffiths retained his place at right back instead of Kris Miller who was on the subs bench.

After early pressure from Stratford, Frome took the lead as  a break from defence led to Raynes going past one defender, before rounding another and the goalkeeper to tap the ball into the empty net, and despite the hosts going close shortly afterwards as a shot from Stephens stung the palms of Kyle Phillips, Frome were looking good in what was an attractive game to watch.

Stratford went very close in the 12th with Kyle Phillips saving a point blank shot from Mike Taylor as he was allowed to turn and shoot from close range, but then Griffiths went close for Frome as he blazed a shot just wide from the edge of the area.

Chances became few and far between as most of the first half saw the sides cancelling each other out in midfield, though a 25 yard dipping volley from James Hancocks just cleared the cross bar as the hosts went in search of an equaliser.

At the start of the second half, a run and shot from Darren Jefferies led to the ball thumping against the base of the post, and with Stratford’s Charlie Evans looping a shot just over the Frome bar and Joe Raynes hitting the Stratford cross bar from 20 yards and Mike Taylor heading a Will Grocott cross just wide, the game looked like it had more goals in it.

However, Frome’s task became much harder in the 58th as a match long simmering feud flared up briefly with the result being another straight red card for Frome’s centre forward Mitchell Page, and no doubt a lengthy ban after his last red card in November for a similar escapade.

However, despite the lack of numbers, Frome extended their lead in the 66th as Jon Davies picked himself up after a heavy foul that resulted in a yellow card for Stratford’s James Fry, and produced a perfectly flighted free kick onto the head of Marcus Mapstone who scored with ease.

With a 2-0 lead to protect but only ten men to do it with, Frome now showed what a good defence they have now and despite Stratford’s efforts, they were kept to half chances with Stephens heading an Evans cross wide, Loyisi Recci blazing over from 30 yards and with Frome sub Ryan Bath hitting the home cross bar in the 89th the match seemed to be heading for a 2-0 victory, that is until the 4th minute of stoppage time when Stephens bundled home from close range after a Phillips punch out had been worked back in to the box.

This now makes it 4 wins and a draw from their last five matches and with Frome firmly in 9th place in the league and only three points outside the play off positions, though it must be said that Slough Town have five games in hand and a point more at this stage. Never the less, an excellent run from a very well managed, tightly knit squad.

Joe Raynes  continued his excellent run as he was again awarded the H&B Tyres Man of the Match Award and the young signing from Larkhall at the start of the season has evolved into a very important, influential player in the side. Crowd: 172. Entertainment Value: 4/5

Colin Carpentera

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