The way the fixtures fell meant that there was a natural break in the fixture list and with a few of the first team having been carrying a few knocks for a few weeks, it was a welcome break for some.
However, the week’s rest didn’t seem to do themselves any favours. The week after their break they faced bottom of the table DRG Frenchay, who were without a win so far this season. Frampton were missing a few key regular players, including both regular centre halves, central midfielders and their top striker. This meant calling up some players from the reserve side, which unfortunately resulted in their game being cancelled.
Despite the depleted squad, manager Nick Talbot was still optimistic that they could run out with a victory. Unfortunately, the mixture of a lacklustre performance by the Athletic players and a somewhat miraculous change of ability from the DRG Frenchay squad meant DRG run out 4-0 victors in a result that will no doubt raise a few eyebrows throughout the league.
Athletics players’ confidence were pretty rock bottom as the defeat was their 4th in a row in the league. With a few missing players back in the squad, Athletic faced a tough game against Hambrook. A new formation and change of tactics was put into place to try and stop the poor run and longer than usual pre-game team talk was handed out.
Whilst the performance and attitude of the players was much improved, unfortunately the result wasn’t and Hambrook ran out 2-0 winners. However, Athletic had their chances to keep themselves in the game. After going 1-0 down after 15 minutes, Athletic battled well against a well organised Hambrook side, but Athletic just couldn’t find that killer pass in the final third and failed to test the Hambrook goalkeeper.
Midway through the second half, Hambrook were awarded a penalty after the referee judged that Matt Brown barged the Hambrook striker to floor. The resulting spot kick was saved by Athletic goalkeeper, Nick Talbot, down low to his left, to keep Athletic in the game.
Athletic very nearly capitalised on the situation, as Matt Johnson broke free from the defence chasing along ball over the top, managed to control the ball, round the keeper, but the angle was just too tight and the eventual shot was blasted wide of the goal.
Inevitably, with 10 minutes left on the referee’s watch, Hambrook finally managed to get their second goal of the game. A corner was put into the Athletic area and half cleared to the edge of the box, where one of the Hambrook players was left unmarked and hit a first time volley into the bottom corner of the net.
That second goal killed off any chance of Athletic getting anything out of the game and score line remained the same at the final whistle to make it 5 losses in a row for Athletic. The two week Christmas break was a welcome distraction and they will be hoping to come back in the new year refreshed and with their strongest players available to fight their way back up the league table.
Frampton’s Reserve side had a mixture of fortunes in December. The month started well as they faced Hanham Athletic Reserves; the only side that they have taken any points from all season. Athletic made it a double over Hanham, as they ran out 3-1 victors, thanks to goals from Mike Beake and Aiden James.
The following week saw the Reserve game postponed, as Athletics first team took half of the available reserve squad.
The less said about the Reserves last game before Christmas the better, as with an injury ravaged squad, they faced a tough game away to Made For Ever. Athletic found themselves on the wrong end of an 11-1 defeat, after finding themselves 5-0 down at half time. Athletics only goal of the game came from an unlikely source in full back Callum Jewell.
After playing 10 games, winning 2 and losing 8, Reserve team manager, Oliver Wood, will be hoping for a change in fortunes in the second half of the season, as they find themselves in a relegation dog-fight from here on in and having already played Hanham Athletic Reserves twice, they will need to find another team to take points from.
Updated 13:20 - 3 Feb 2017 by Nick Talbot