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Chesham United 2-1 Frome Town – Calor League Premier Division, Sat. 15th Feb.

ANOTHER excellent away day performance from Frome Town saw them narrowly lose 2-1 at second place Chesham Utd, and despite Frome playing with 10 men for the last half hour, it was Chesham who were glad to hear the final whistle at the end.

For Frome, centre forward Ben Thomson was unavailable and Mark Francis’s loan from Swindon has expired, though injury to the player is currently preventing an extension of the loan. Jack Vallis recovered from injury and took his place on the subs bench.

The wind was always going to have an effect on this match, and it started with Chesham having the advantage in the first half; however it was Frome who created the first opening in the 5th minute as Matt Groves beat Dan Braithwaite to the ball, rolled it back to Kris Miller to produce a testing cross that skidded off former Premier League defender Darren Purse to go for a corner.

Chesham replied a few minutes later as a ricochet from a free kick allowed John Kyriacou to burst forward and let fly from the edge of the area with the shot going wide of the goal.  Darren Chitty was then almost deceived by a free kick that moved alarmingly in the gusty wind, but he recovered superbly to catch the ball at the last instant. Playing good football against the wind, Frome always looked dangerous and a Ben Woods cross in the 19th minute brought great control and a quick shot from Matt Groves, with only the legs of Shane Gore denying Frome the opener. Groves was also involved a few minutes later as he set up Hulbert for a 25 yarder that cleared the bar by a few yards.

The match then entered a phase where the wind seemed to start finding its way through the referee’s whistle rather a lot, and harsh bookings resulted for Jon Vance and a Chesham midfielder. The whistle also brought about the first goal as Dan Braithwaite went to ground in the 43rd, Rhys Baggridge picked up a yellow and the League’s top goal scorer Drew Roberts converted from the spot to give Chesham a somewhat fortunate lead at half time.

The second half saw Frome equalise with 10 minutes gone as a free kick was swung into the home area, Tim Stephenson knocked the ball back to Groves and the experienced forward fired home unerringly.

Frome were really taking the game to the hosts at this point and looking like they could go on and win the match, but again the referee had a big hand in the result as he showed a second yellow to  Baggridge  for a “last man” foul on Roberts, resulting in Frome going down to 10 men, and, to add insult to injury, from the resulting free kick, Roberts’ flicked header got a big deflection that left Chitty rooted to the spot and the ball trickled past him to give Chesham the lead. Despite being a man short, Frome went for broke and after Matt Smith went close with an 18 yard shot that was just deflected over the bar, Jack Vallis came on Josh Ford, but started playing as a forward with Frome playing with three defenders  (Miller, Stephenson and Cooper).

The ploy almost worked in the 79th as a Vance free kick was met by Vallis and his goalbound header was superbly saved by Gore who just tipped it over the bar. As the minutes ticked away, Frome kept pressing and Mark Cooper hurtled forward in the 92nd only for his shot to be tipped behind for a corner,  and as Darren Chitty came out of his goal and into the box, he was blatantly bundled over as he jumped, but the referee gave nothing and the points stayed with the home side.