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Larks dig out another 3 points!

Larks in tune as Paulton’s discordant run continues

Report by Noel Avis, Paulton Rovers FC

We were singing carols the last time that Rovers won a league game – 16 games ago! Larkhall arrived at Winterfield having gained ten points from their last four games, moving into the promotion play off places.

The game started brightly with Paulton’s Leo Eglin firing over the bar from Leighton Thomas’s pass. Max Williams did the same as Larkhall threatened for the first time. Thomas again passed beautifully for Dan Mc Beam who was robbed as he tried to get away from his marker. But gradually the away team started to settle down the better. Rovers captain Neil Martin brought down Williams outside the penalty area. Goalie Frankie Phillips pulled off the first of many outstanding saves as he clawed away Archie Ferris’s free kick.

For a while Paulton found it difficult to get out of their own half, but Martin and his defenders were tackling and intercepting well as Larkhall’s lively forwards tried to move the ball around them. But then, in the 25th minute, a free kick on the left from Williams found the head of an unmarked Matthew Bowman who headed past Phillips to give the Larks the lead.

Rovers tried hard to respond – Ed Butcher was forced off the ball in full flow and Dan Restorick’s powerful long throws unsettled the Larkhall defenders. Restorick then required some lengthy treatment following a challenge, which eventually caused him to leave the game. Nick Hewlett replaced him. Larkhall continued to play the more composed football denying Thomas, McBeam, Eglin and Butcher the space in which to play.

Larkhall finished the half on top as yet another cross from Williams was met with a scissor kick from Eben Mortimer-Taylor which brought a flying save from Phillips. The play after the break became scrappy and stop – start, but Paulton’s Thomas had a shot comfortably saved by Arthur Nesta in the Larkhall goal. Mortimer Taylor saw his curling effort drift the wrong side of a post.

Paulton manager Richard Fey then rang the changes as Jamarni Langlais and Kye Simpson joined the game. This added dimension saw Paulton more on the front foot and begin to play more in Larkhall’s territory. But then disaster struck for Rovers as influential midfielder Joe Hall was dismissed for a seemingly innocuous challenge. Surprisingly, despite their disadvantage, Paulton played some of their best football and managed to exert some pressure. Simpson’s strong running and Langlais’ trickery began to take the play to Larkhall. But Larks goalie Nesta was rarely tested and the Bath team continued to look more threatening, remaining quicker to the ball and largely in control.

Towards the end, Butcher escaped his marker and played the ball invitingly across the face of the Larkhall goal. But it stayed unconverted and the Larks were able to see out the game, frustrating the home side with cornerflag tiptap.

Three games left. Three wins needed. The fat lady is clearing her throat…

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