FOOTBALL: Rudge senses Town progress

3:00pm Thursday 3rd January 2013

By Owen Houlihan

SURRENDERING a two-goal lead at home with 15 minutes remaining would be enough to get most managers tearing their hair out in frustration.

But while Nathan Rudge wasn’t exactly jumping for joy at the Frome comeback that extended his side’s winless run to three matches, the Bluebirds’ boss has noticed a marked change in his side heading into the second half of the season.

A sensational 35 yard strike from Frome skipper Dean Evans in injury time sparked jubilant scenes among travelling players, coaches and fans, completing the fightback started 15 minutes earlier by ex-Chippenham man Mike Perrott.

But for home player-boss Rudge, who played 90 minutes at the heart of the defence, the Robins’ delight merely reinforced his view that his own squad are making progress.

“We’re getting more difficult to beat now,’’ he said. “At the start of the season we weren't, but now we’re not losing games of football.

“If anything, we’re giving teams games of football and I think that was just another example of us chucking away a game. No one is finding it easy to beat us but this felt like a loss.

“It proves how far we’ve come when you see teams celebrating like they did at getting a point off us.’’

An own goal from Robins’ defender Ryan Bennett and Alan Griffin’s towering header put Chippenham in command at the interval, but they failed to repeat those first-half heights after the break as their opponents raised their game.

Rudge said: “I think we had enough chances to have won the game in the first half. Two up I thought would be enough to win the game, but the lad (Evans) hit a great strike in the last minute.

“They either end up in the back of the net or the back of the cricket field. Disappointingly for us, it was the back of the net.

“We had something to hold on to and we didn’t. It’s massively disappointing.

“When it goes to 2-1, they’ve got a glimmer. We got a point, but I thought we were the better side by a distance. You’ve got to finish sides off and we didn’t and paid the price.’’

Darren Perrin warned his Frome Town side their superb fightback will mean nothing if it’s not followed up by success at home to Bashley on Saturday.

“As a manager and as a team, you cannot legislate for an own goal like that (Bennett’s) after a few minutes,’’ he said.

“We've been on a bit of a poor run and it just sapped us. You could see the shoulders just drop.

“But I've been the manager of this football club (Chippenham) and as long and you are within two goals, you always have a chance going down that slope when it's heavy.

“We always thought we were still in the game at half time and I don't think anyone can begrudge us on our second half performance.

“When it went to 2-1, I honestly felt we could go on and win the game.’’ The point could prove vital as Frome look to nudge themselves comfortably clear of the Evo-Stik League Southern Premier Division drop zone.

But Perrin, who saluted the heroics of goalkeeper Darren Chitty, who made around half a dozen quality saves, added: “This result means nothing if we don't get something from Bashley at home this Saturday.

“Everyone can get up for a game with 300-400 people here.

“It's a local derby where everyone knows each other, but that's the easy part. The harder part is getting up for Saturday and building on what we have done.’’



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