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Frome Town 1-1 Poole Town – FA Trophy 1st Round, Sat 19th Oct.

AFTER taking the lead on the stroke of half time, Frome Town had to dig deep to survive a last half hour of continuous Poole pressure after going to 10 men, surviving one penalty but conceding another and eventually clinging on for a replay.

This match saw new manager Brian O’Donnell’s first match in charge, and it was always going to be a tough one with high flying Poole Town coming to Badger’s Hill to try and repeat their  3-1 victory from earlier in the season.

After Ben Wood had produced a teasing cross that nobody got on the end of, Poole started to look dangerous with Martin Brooks getting a clean header on a corner that just cleared the far post and Carl Preston just missing the far post as he received the ball with his back to goal, but turned and produced a shot that just cleared the far post.

The 35th minute provided a scare as Darren Chitty required attention as he bravely dived at a Poole forward’s feet, and Aaron Ledgister looked to have a clear shooting chance until he was denied by a strong block challenge from Sam Clarke.

A period of torrential rain just before half time made conditions difficult, and Frome  took the lead in the second minute of stoppage time as Poole pushed everyone forward for a corner, only for  Rhys Baggridge to break clear, interchange cleverly with Ben Wood, and then supply a low cross to Will Agbo who slotted the ball home with a slightly mis-hit shot from 10 yards.

Poole started the second half with more possession and territory, and they were a little unlucky in the 54th minute as a deflected shot spun up onto the Frome bar before being cleared for a corner, and four minutes later came the incident that had a major effect on the match as Rhys Baggridge was shown a red card for a “last man challenge” that seemed to be outside of the area, but  resulted in a penalty that Darren Chitty brilliantly saved from Steve Devlin to maintain Frome’s slender lead.

Despite Poole’s territorial and numerical dominance, Frome had the odd chance to score and one of these arrived in the 53rd minute as a Ledgister free kick spun wickedly up in the air allowing Matt Cowler to attempt an acrobatic shot as the ball fell, but he caught it wrong and the ball flew high over the bar.

Ledgister produced a moment of magic five minutes later as he controlled a pass that seemed to be going past him, flicked the ball over a defender and produced a thunderous dipping volley from 35 yards that Nick Hutchings just managed to push onto the cross bar and over for a corner.

However, the Poole pressure was now relentless and resulted in an equaliser in the 74th minute as right back Simon Millard fouled the Poole winger as he accelerated into the box, and this time Devlin made no mistake from the spot as he fired the ball low to Darren Chitty’s left corner.

As Poole went for the jugular, Chitty produced two close range saves in the 88th minute that almost defied belief, and he was on hand again to dive to his left and push a fiercely struck free kick away in the fourth minute of stoppage time to ensure that Frome lived to fight another day.

Ben Wood made it four ‘H&B Tyres Man of the Man Awards’ in a row as he was chosen as man of the match by match sponsor ‘Zippy’ for another tireless performance leading the line.

Frome Scorers: Agbo (45+2), Poole Scorers: Devlin (79p). Crowd: 224. Star Man: Ben Wood. Entertainment Value: 4.