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Poole Town 4-2 Frome Town – Calor Premier Division, Monday 17th March

TWO penalties, a wonder goal, a late red card and some contentious decisions all added up to an entertaining match which saw Poole take an early two goal lead, Frome get back on level terms only for Poole to restore their two goal advantage in the space of three minutes.

With Frome coming into this match having not conceded a goal for four games and Poole defending an unbeaten home record, it always seemed likely that something had to give and added spice to this match that was eventually played at the third attempt following two cancellations caused by the flooding.

On a pitch that had recovered remarkably well, Frome kept faith with the same starting 11 that had beaten Totton on Saturday apart from Matt Groves taking the place of Ben Thomson at number 9.

A feisty start to the match saw Frome have the better of the first quarter with Jack Vallis nodding a free kick over the bar and Ben Wood going close with a long range effort, but then Poole came back and a neat interchange in the Frome penalty area brought the first save of the match from Darren Chitty in the 15th.

Frome conceded their first goal in 380 minutes of play as Poole took the lead with a low, right wing free kick that seemed to evade everyone until Jamie Whisken got the slightest of touches to deflect the ball past Chitty and into the far corner of the net.

Two minutes later and Poole took a 2-0 lead as ball was looped over the Frome defence to allow Luke Burbridge a run into the box, and as he cut inside, he slid a low ball to Ekew Elliott who tucked the ball into the far corner in very similar style to the first goal.

To their credit, Frome upped the pace and went looking for their first goal, and after Vallis had seen a looping header cleared off the Poole line, a succession of free kicks led to numerous attempts but none that really gave Dan Thomas any real saves to make.

Controversy erupted in the 44th minute as Matt Groves dispossessed Poole’s left back and Will Spetch on the edge of the penalty and as he went to drive into the box, he was pulled back by his shirt, but despite being the “last man” and the foul occurring on the line, the free kick was awarded outside the penalty area and Spetch only received a yellow card.

However, the resulting free kick gave some recompense as Jon Vance clipped the ball into the box, Groves nudged it on and Vallis was there to score with a stooping header from close range.

The second half started quietly with Frome looking for the equaliser but not really creating chances against an organised Poole defence, however, the pressure paid off in the 60th minute as Mark Cooper was fouled on a run forward, and as the Vance free kick came in, Josh Ford rose at the far post to head the ball back into the danger area, and as Groves challenged, a defenders hand rose to push the ball away. The referee spotted the hand, pointed to the spot and Kris Miller calmly tucked the ball into the corner to put Frome back on level terms.

Shortly afterwards, Poole made it 3-2 as Steve Devlin let fly with a 30 yard left foot screamer that seemed to move in the air and completely confused Chitty who could only stand and watch as it thumped into the back of the net.

With the match now at fever pitch, a rugby tackle on Mark Cooper provoked a massive melee in the Frome penalty area that was finally sorted out with a couple of yellow cards after the referee had spent 30 seconds or so doing a passable impression of whistling kettle boiling furiously. As the tempers abated slowly, Poole kept applying the pressure and were rewarded with a penalty as Vallis slid for the ball but took a forward with him, and Devlin scored his second of the night to make it 4-2 with a penalty that gave Chitty no chance.

Poole then decided to defend their lead and though Frome always looked to attack, the chances refused to some. Ben Wood went on a mazy run in the 73rd minute that saw him beat five players but just fail to get the end shot in and Vallis saw a header from a corner just palmed over the bar by Thomas.

A flurry of Frome corners on the left resulted in the first red card of the night as the referee’s attention was drawn to an “off the ball incident” that few in the crowd had spotted and Ricky Hulbert  was shown a straight red card accordingly.

Jack Vallis was awarded the “H&B Tyres Man of the Man Award”. Crowd: 284. Entertainment Value: 4.