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Frome Town 3-0 Bideford Town – Evo-Stik Southern Premier, Weds 23rd Sept

It’s probably fair to say that Frome Town’s season really started with this match, and that after several promising performances, it finally all came good. 

An excellent performance saw the team run out easy 3-0 winners against a Bideford side that were missing their manager due to a car breakdown on his way to the match.

With Steve Hulbert returning to the starting line up and Lewis Haldane also rejoining the squad, manager Nick Bunyard was able to keep a settled defence and shuffle the midfield and attack starting numbers as he looks for the best blend.

However, after a bright start from Frome that saw them threatening from both wings, Steve Hulbert’s return only lasted until the 12th minute when he was replaced by Jake Hutchings due to injury.

Frome carried on looking the better side despite the occasional counter attack from the visitors, and after Tyler Sibbick had turned former Robin Chris McGrath inside and out, but then shot high over the bar, they deservedly took the lead in the 27th minute as Rob Hobbs found a perfect pass to set Liam Monelle free, and the youngster coolly slotted the ball across the face of the goal and just inside of the far post to the delight of the home crowd.

However, Bideford looked dangerous on the counter and Darren Chitty had to be alert to push a shot out from the far post, and after Bideford’s Kevin Squire had shot into the side netting, Chitty produced a fine save from a header by Billy Tucker, though the linesman’s flag would have ruled out the goal had it gone in.

On the half hour Monelle cut in well from the left and rolled the ball back invitingly for Tyler Sibbick, but his shot was blocked by a defender and 10 minutes after that, Kris Miller did well on the right to pull the ball back for Darren Jefferies but his shot cleared the cross bar by a long way.

Right on the stroke of half time, Frome made it 2-0 as Monelle cleverly found space on the left as he was kept onside Ben Gerring, and as he accelerated in towards goal, he unselfishly pulled the ball back to Sibbick who coolly steadied himself and shot cleanly past Kyle Moore to give Frome a well deserved lead at half time.

Frome started the second half with more of the same and Monelle very nearly made it 3-0 just after the start as he broke through, spotted Moore off his line and produced a lob that the keeper only just managed to get back and stop before it bounced over the line, then Jefferies brought a save from Moore and in the 54th minute Monelle again pulled the ball back to Sibbick only for the striker to thunder his shot against the cross bar.

The 60th minute saw Miller evade three tackles as he powered into the Bideford area, only to be thwarted by a brave last ditch save from Moore, and in the 69th, Monelle again set up Sibbick perfectly, only for the striker to lean back and shoot high over the bar.

It was end to end stuff by this stage, and the Frome defence generally looked cool and calm when dealing with the Bideford attacks, while at the other end, substitute Haldane latched onto a great through ball from Ricky Hulbert before seeing his shot just deflected by the outstretched leg of McGrath and going for a corner.

Controversy erupted in the 84th as Monelle was found in the Bideford area by Joe Tumelty, and as he jinked inside his marker, he appeared to be caught by a flailing leg, but the referee saw it differently, blew his whistle and booked Monelle for diving much to the ire of the home crowd.

With a minute to go, Jefferies seemed to have made it 3-0 to Frome with a shot into the far corner, only for the linesman’s flag to rule it out, and after a rare Bideford attack had rattled the Frome bar, Tumelty finally got the third goal that Frome richly deserved as he latched onto a Moore save from a Haldane shot and thundered the ball into the net from 18 yards to give Frome their first win of the season and probably the first of many.

Liam Monelle  was the  H&B Tyres Man of the Match Award and his energy, vision and running on and off the ball are providing Frome with a lot more options in attack.

Frome Scorers: Monelle (27), Sibbick (45+2). Bideford Scorers: None. Crowd: 131. Star Man: Liam Monelle. Entertainment Value: 4/5.