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Sat. 28th April. Evo-stik Southern Premier Frome Town 3 Dunstable Town 0

Despite a brave performance from Dunstable, Frome breezed into a 2-0 lead at half time thanks to a brace from man of the match, Joe Raynes, and as Dunstable threw everything at Frome in the second half, Ryan Bath scored late on to seal the match.

As fate would have it, Frome found themselves playing against Dunstable on the last game of the season, a team that had performed bravely all season on a zero playing budget, and it had all come  down to the one relegation place being between Dunstable and Gosport, with both tied on equal points, a very similar goal difference and both playing away from home in their last game.

The Frome team included Kris Miller coming back from suspension and Connor Roberts returning to his normal place at centre back alongside Marcus Mapstone, with Chas Hemmings taking his place on the bench after a back injury that had kept him out for a couple of matches.

The match started with an early snapshot from Andrew Osei-Bonsu in the 3rd minute that went past Carl Crabtree’s near post, but Frome then carved out the first-clear cut chance in the 6th as Bath headed down to Kris Miller who cut in and found Bath again and his backheel opened the door for Raynes, but he lent back and hit the ball well over the bar from 12 yards out.

However Raynes soon made amends, and in the 15th, a superb chipped ball from Josh Bace allowed him to run in behind the defence, control the ball and go round Nathan Harness to stroke the ball into the net for the opening goal for Frome.

Frome now started to dominate especially on the right wing, and after Brace had very nearly opened up the defence with a cross in the 21st, a Miller cross two minutes later led to Raynes bringing a good save from Harness with his legs, and Raynes again nearly scored as he drove into the box a minute later, only for his low shot to be deflected out for a corner.

Raynes again had the ball in the net in the 25th, only for it to be ruled out for offside, and with Knight bringing a save from Harness following a good run, it looked like the second goal would arrive soon. And so it proved, as good work by Ollie Knowles on the right set up Ben Griffiths to curl a perfect inviting cross onto the head of Raynes, who powered it home for his second and gave Frome a 2-0 lead.

Frome went close twice more before half time, as first Bath and then Withey brought saves from Harness and the 2-0 advantage at half time was an accurate reflection of the game to that point.

To Dunstable’s credit, they really took the game to Frome in the second half, but in doing so they left large open spaces at the back that Brace, Bath, Raynes and Knight were quick to exploit and on another day, the final result could well have been a much bigger victory for Frome, but it was almost as if the Frome players had too many options going forward and Dunstable were pulling off last-ditch tackle after last-ditch tackle and defending with their lives.

In the 58th, Harness did very well to claw a header out the top corner to avoid an own goal, but then Dunstable’s adventurous play almost paid off in the 65th as Osei-Bonsu just failed to get on the end of a low cross, and they could well have pulled one back in the 70th as Ryan Young found himself in a “one-on-one” with Crabtree, but his shot missed the goal and only just missed the head of Arel Amu, who would surely have scored.

At the other end, Frome were creating attack after attack, but to use a golfing analogy, their approach play was brilliant, but their putting was letting them down and the ball just refused to end up in the goal until, that is, the 87th minute when Brace pushed a ball through to Bath who turned his marker and shot home into the far corner to make it 3-0 and seal the match.

So, despite a well documented, tumultuous end to the season, Frome finished in their second highest ever position, and it remains to be seen how the events of the close season will pan out and what awaits next season in a hopefully more local league.

Respect is due to the players and management of  Dunstable Town who have rescued the club from disaster with their unpaid commitment to the club and we wish them well in the future and further success in a financial environment that is crippling non-league football, while the Premier League has never been richer.

Joe Raynes  was chosen for the H&B Tyres Man of the Match Award by match sponsors Frome Town Supporters Club, and it was a good day for the ever-present young player as he deservedly went on to a clean sweep of “Player of the Year” awards in the presentations after the match.

If you’ve enjoyed reading these reports, how about showing your appreciation by coming to one or two matches next year ….. you never know, you might enjoy it.

Crowd: 261. Entertainment Value: 4/5

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