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Bideford 2-2 Frome Town – Calor Southern Premier Division, Mon. 21st April.

TO use an old footballing cliche, this was very much a match of two halves as Frome Town found themselves trailing by two goals at the interval, were much better in the second half and deservedly came away from Bideford with a share of the points thanks to two second half goals.

Frome kept their very settled starting eleven for this match, and travelled the 100 or so miles to  Bideford for this Bank Holiday Monday fixture as they are one of Bideford’s more local sides. Having beaten Bideford 2-0 at Badger’s Hill at the start of their revival under Adrian Foster and Paul Thorpe, hopes were high that they could come away with something from Bideford, who have had a good season in the league.

However, for the second match in succession, the opponents scored early on and Bideford took the lead in the 6th minute as Craig Duff headed home a left wing cross at the far post.

Frome continued to look vulnerable as the match progressed, and Rhys Baggridge went very close to an own goal as he attempted to head the ball back to Darren Chitty, only to misdirect it and watch gratefully as the ball rolled just past the outside of the post for a corner.

After Owen Howe had headed a right wing cross onto the roof of the Frome net in the 27th minute, Frome had their first chance a minute later as Jack Vallis met a Jon Vance free kick perfectly with his head, bring a tip-over save from Steve Oliver.

After Chitty had saved well from Nick Milton, The Vance-Vallis free kick combination worked well again, but this time the header cleared the bar and a minute later a Matt Smith blazed a volley over the bar after being picked out perfectly by a Kris MIller right wing cross.

Just as it looked like Frome might get back into this match before the interval, their hopes were dashed as Mark Cooper brought down a home attacker in the penalty area and Craig Duff converted from the spot after sending Chitty the wrong way to give Bideford a 2-0 lead.

Frome looked much sharper right from the start of the second half and Smith pulled the ball back for Josh Ford to bring a save from Oliver, with Vallis getting to the rebound only to see his effort cleared off the line.

On the hour, Frome had a goal disallowed as Ben Thomson flicked on for Ricky Hulbert to smash the ball into the net, only for the effort to be ruled out by a linesman’s flag, but the writing was on the wall, and the goal did come in the 65th minute as a Jon Vance free kick from very tight to the touchline bounced and crept in at the near post with Oliver plainly at fault.

Cheered on by the large travelling support, Frome looked for the equaliser and Ben Thomson burst through and shot only to be denied by a block from Ian Sampson, but eventually their efforts did pay off and the equaliser arrived in the 83rd minute as the Vance-Vallis free kick combination worked once again and Vallis headed in off the post to give Frome the draw that their efforts deserved, with a great tackle from Baggridge towards the end ensuring a share of the points.

Jon Vance was awarded the “H&B Tyres Man of the Man Award” for another tireless performance in midfield, scoring one goal and having a hand in the other. Frome Scorers: Vance (65), Vallis (80). Crowd: 207. Entertainment Value: 4