MATCH REPORT: Paulton Rovers 3-1 Bristol Manor Farm

The Farmy Army found scant fare to cheer from their festive Boxing Day fixture at the First4Pools Stadium, writes Kevin O’Donohoe.

The visitors started brightly enough – Jayden Nielsen won a free kick in a dangerous position inside the first five minutes but Jake Gosling’s dead-ball strike was cleared.

Harry Lucas partnered with Josh Ford in the centre of Farm’s defence and the youngster had a good game, making his first great clearance in the sixth minute.

Five minutes later Manor Farm took the lead with a terrific goal when Owen Howe challenged for a header on the edge of the box and the loose ball fell into Gosling’s path as he marauded into the penalty area. The Farm skipper let the ball come over his shoulder before hitting a sweetly-timed left foot volley high into the Paulton net.

Frankie Artus was next to try his luck from the edge of the box after turning inside nicely but his shot was easily saved by Aaron Sainsbury.

With twenty minutes gone the home side came to life and it took a decisive block by Josh Ford to thwart Ed Butcher as he cut in dangerously from the left.

Midway through the half a lengthy torrential downpour of ice-cold rain soon began which scuppered any good play from either side – and it wasn’t the only deluge to fall. Mason Winter took an unfortunate blow to the face and the right-back’s nose would not stop bleeding. Farm were down to ten men for the best part of ten minutes while he received touchline treatment and orders to change his playing shirt.

Ten minutes before the break, with Winter not long back on the pitch, Ben John made a crucial intervention with his fingertips – deflecting the ball away to safety as Paulton’s threat level flickered dangerously once more.

Two minutes into the second half Theo Llewellyn had a nice side-foot effort parried by Sainsbury. Just before the hour mark Farm almost doubled their lead when Owen Howe dribbled across the box then swivelled sharply to hit a right-foot shot that cannoned back off the far post.

Paulton fully embraced the reprieve with Butcher immediately threatening to equalise, finding space before shooting firmly but wide. Two minutes later, with a growing sense of belief, the home side made parity when substitute Will Hailston set up Joseph Morgan to hammer home high past John.

With ten minutes left the game was still anyone’s to win but two goals in quick succession sealed the comeback win for Paulton. John looked to have gathered on the goal line but amidst an absolute scrum of players in the six-yard box, the ball came loose and was bundled home from inches by left-back Mircea Ilia. Then, three minutes from time, Morgan snagged his brace and all three points heading home a corner from close range.

With other Boxing Day results not entirely going the club’s way either, Manor Farm will look to bounce back quickly when they face bottom side Slimbridge at The BS3 Services Stadium next Monday.

(STAR MAN – Harry Lucas)