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Sat. 29th Sept. Evo-Stik Southern Premier Frome Town 3 Walton Casuals 0

There was little to choose between these two sides for much of the match, but the Frome substitutions changed everything as Harry Baker scored one and substitute Ryan Bath scored two – all in the space of six second half minutes, and Frome ran out 3-0 winners.

With Frome playing their first game for two weeks due to an early exit from the FA Cup, the players were rested and with the pitch almost back to its best and on a perfect afternoon for football, the crowd looked forward to the first ever visit of Walton Casuals. With Harry Baker’s loan from Weymouth extended for another month, it had the potential to be a good afternoon.

The first half started as it would continue, with both sides electing to play an open, attacking style of play, though Walton certainly had the better of it in the first ten minutes, with Joe Hicks clipping a short corner just past the near post and James Carey just tipping over a screamer from Kyron Farrall in the 10th.

Frome’s first half chance arrived in the 12th as Harry Baker beat the offside trap to run onto the ball, but his low cross-cum shot found the waiting hands of Denzel Gerrer, who dealt with the ball easily. But Frome did start to move onto the front foot more, with Connor Roberts linking up with Dan Demkiv on a few occasions to cause problems for the visitors down the right wing.

Baker did well in the 23rd to win the ball and pull it back to Demkiv, who stung the hands of Gerrer with a shot from the edge of the area. The home side always looked susceptible to committing too many players forward, then losing the ball and allowing Walton to hit them on the break, and Nathan Wood looked especially dangerous whenever this happened with his penetrating runs.

Carey was on hand to save well from Isaac Sarpong in the 34th, after Sam Teale had just lost out in a tussle just outside the box, but Frome probably finished the stronger of the two sides as half time approached, but without creating a serious chance.

The second half started in a similar vein to the first and most observers were predicting probably a 0-0 draw or potentially one side grabbing a single goal that would decide the match. As the half progressed, it was looking more like Walton who would be the side to grab that goal.

Frome keeper Carey made a very good, reaction save at his near post in the 53rd after Walton had carved their way through the Frome defence and he did very well again from the resulting corner as the visitors won the ball in the air. Oliver Robinson must have thought his close-range header was going in, until Carey just tipped it over the bar.

Frome were again a little lucky in the 59th as Kris Scott cleared the ball off the line to deny Farrall a goal that looked to be certain after the visitors had carved out several shooting chances. At this stage, there only looked likely to be one winner, but then the substitutions changed all that.

Ryan Bath replaced Chris Allen in the 62nd, but this had no immediate effect and Walton had a golden chance to score in the 66th as Ronald Sobowale just missed the target. Then in the 70th, Danny Greaves brought on “supersub” TJ Davies in place of Simpson, and every time he comes on, something seems to change and today it seemed to be luck.

Immediately after the substitution, a free kick was played forward to Baker who cleverly back-heeled the ball and the spin took it past an outstretched lag and perfectly into the path of Bath, who drove the ball home from 12 yards with no problems at all.

Two minutes later and the lead was doubled as Baker played a ball to Bath, who was making use of the space the defence were giving him, by being slow coming up. Bath had enough time and space to control, turn and play the ball into the path of Baker, who then advanced and produced an excellent finish across the face of Gerrer and into the far corner.

Lady luck continued smiling on Frome four minutes later as a free kick from the right was flicked on by the head of Teale and spun perfectly off a defender’s boot to allow the unmarked Bath to score from close range and from a tight angle, for his second of the game and Frome’s third.

Understandably, the three goal blitz in 6 minutes knocked the wind out of Walton, and although they never gave up, Frome were more than comfortable for the last twenty minutes or so, and could have made it 4-0 in injury time as Gerrer did well to save point-blank from Marcus Mapstone, and to tip a Teale header over the bar from the resulting corner.

It was a strange match really, with the teams being difficult to separate for most of the 90 minutes apart from the golden 6 minutes when the run of the ball really did favour the home side.

Man of the match was chosen as Ryan Bath by the Mayor of Frome, special guest for the day.

Colin Carpenter

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