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Monday 2nd April. Evo-Stik Southern Premier League Merthyr Town 3 Frome Town 4

Another hugely entertaining match saw Frome Town snatch a late winner through Jon Davies in the 84th minute after goals from Joe Raynes, Josh Brace and  Marcus Mapstone had drawn the scores level at 3-3.

The 3G pitch at Merthyr  defied everything the elements could throw at it to ensure that this Bank Holiday fixture was playable.

With Frome’s home fixture against Banbury having succumbed to the weather on Saturday, even overnight snow and torrential rain and rain before and during the match failed to create any issues on the 3G pitch and the match was never in doubt.

Frome were able to field a strong side that contained the main spine of the side, with only Darren Jefferies,  Sam Teale and Ollie Knight missing from the squad for a combination of reasons, and after the heroics against Tiverton last week, another good performance was required.

The match opened at pace with both sides looking dangerous, and after Merthyr had hit the inside of the Frome post with a chip over Kyle Phillips, Joe Raynes brought a good full stretch save from Ed Hewitson at the other end, and with Merthyr going close with a header just over and George Miller having a header saved, the first ten minutes suggested that this would not by a goalless draw.

Sure enough, the first goal arrived in the 11th as Merthyr took the lead with a great shot from Owain Jones that buried itself in the top corner from just outside the area. But the lead lasted just three minutes before Frome equalised as Joe Raynes caught hold of a cross from Mitchell Page to bury a volley into the roof of the home net, to the delight of the travelling fans.

With Merthyr quick and impressive on the break, Frome rode their luck a little with Phillips forced to make a couple of sharp saves and act as a sweeper on a few occasions. But they weathered the storm, and then took the lead in the 23rd as Raynes played a through ball to Josh Brace, who scored with a well-taken shot from just inside the area for his first goal for the club.

Once again in this entertaining match, and with the rain now coming down in torrents, Merthyr made it 2-2 six minutes later as a right wing cross was headed home at the far post by Ryan Prosser. Despite the half continuing in the same “end-to-end” fashion, no more goals came along before half time and the match was finely balanced at the interval.

The second half started in the same fashion as the first had ended, but Merthyr looked a little more lively and duly made it 3-2 in the 55th as Chas Hemmings managed to block a dangerous shot from outside the area, only for the ball to rebound to Jarrad Wright who scored in the bottom corner.

Merthyr continued to look the more likely side to score again, but Frome were grateful to Phillips for another couple of saves that kept them in the match. With a Merthyr shot deflected over the bar and a free header over the bar shortly afterwards, a home goal at this stage would surely have sealed the match. But in the 77th, up popped Jon Davies to produce a perfectly flighted free kick for Marcus Mapstone to head home from the 6-yard line, to level the score at 3-3.

After Davies had seen an audacious lob from 25 yards over the keeper just clear the crossbar, Frome went close as Ryan Bath crossed from the left and Raynes just failed to get to the ball and poke it in. But then they made it 4-3 in the 84th as Davies curled a shot just inside the far post with the outside of his right foot, after a break on the right wing.

However, Merthyr then went looking for the equaliser and Frome survived a big scare as Phillips mis-kicked a clearance, but was just able to get back in time, but then Bath went close at the other end bringing a good save from Hewitson.  Frome survived and brought all three points back across the bridge after a very good afternoon’s entertainment.

On a day when there were many candidates, Joe Raynes was chosen for the H&B Tyres Man of the Match Award.

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