Melksham Town v Parkway | Match Report

Parkway let 3 goal lead slip and with it, all three points


Words by Graham Lloyd
Images by Dave Harry

Melksham Town 4 (Morgan 57, Ballinger 65, 75, Mawford 78)

Plymouth Parkway 3 (Carter 38, 49, Allen pen 53)

Parkway travelled to Melksham, their 3rd successive away game, looking to consolidate their league position with a good crowd of 378 in attendance. One change was made from last week’s FA Trophy victory at Highworth Town with Truro City loanee Rio Garside replacing the injured Matt Andrew in midfield. Ryan Lane was unavailable for selection due to serving the 2ndof his 3 match suspension.

Parkway made the sharper start forcing an early corner and. on 7 minutes a neat interchange between Garside and Jack Crago saw a cross just evade the supporting Callum Hall at the far post. Play continued at a high tempo with the hosts Jay Malshanski going clear on 10 minutes and seeing his close range angled effort blocked at the near post by Kyle Moore. Moore then saved comfortably from Albie Hopkins on 11 minutes as Melksham came more into the game with their more direct style of play. A free kick on the right edge of the 18 yard area was cleared by the Parkway defence with Hopkins continuing to threaten along the left flank.

Despite a period of Parkway possession with River Allen, Garside and Billy Palfrey prominent, they were unable to penetrate the home defence with their final ball being invariably over hit and being comfortably dealt with by the Melksham defence. An Allen free kick on 21 minutes rebounded off the defensive wall with Palfrey firing the loose ball well over. Parkway began to dominate possession and on 22 minutes a neat move involving Allen, Hall and Crago ended with a dangerous cross being deflected behind for a corner. Parkway’s first clear cut chance came on 27 minutes when good work from Harrison Davis and Palfrey set up Carter whose glancing effort from close range was superbly tipped behind at full stretch by Matt Hall in the home goal.

On 28 minutes Melksham’s Will Christopher received the game’s first yellow card after pulling back Garside as he attempted to go clear along the left. Parkway continued in the ascendency but too often their final ball lacked quality with Garside going clear on the right on 30 minutes but over hitting his cross. A period of Parkway pressure saw a series of shots blocked by some solid Melksham defending with Garside scuffing a shot just wide on 35 minutes after good work along the right by Davis. The pressure finally paid off on 38 minutes as Parkway took the lead. Another good run along the right by Davis saw his angled shot parried by Matt Hall with the predatory Carter pouncing on the loose ball and hammering home from close range. Melksham responded seeing a free kick flash narrowly wide on 40 minutes. A competitive half with few clear cut chances with defences generally on top with Parkway having the majority of possession and just about deserving their half time lead with Melksham defending well and looking dangerous on the break.

Melksham created an early 2ndhalf chance with Moore saving well from Malshanski on 48 minutes but it was Parkway who doubled their lead on 49 minutes. A quick throw in down the left deep in the Melksham half found Mikey Williams who weaved his way along the bye line and delivered a dangerous cross which Matt Hall could only parry away with once again Carter the first to react firing high into the roof of the net from around 8 yards. Play began to open up in the midfield areas with Aidan Chainey shooting over from distance on 51 minutes for the hosts followed by Moore saving well from a Jake Mawford header.

On 53 minutes Parkway went further ahead after Crago was brought down in the penalty area by the keeper with Allen confidently smashing home the spot kick which should have given Parkway an unassailable lead. Callum Hall then saw yellow for a foul as Melksham increased their intensity and pulled a goal back on 57 minutes. Parkway failed to properly clear a free kick with the ball dropping to the unmarked full back Ryan Morgan around 25 yards out who rifled home an unstoppable shot. Moore immediately picked up a booking for remarks made to the referee. The goal seemed to galvanise Melksham and a double substitution on 64 minutes with Luke Ballinger and Vaughn Covil replacing Hopkins and Malshanski made an almost immediate impact. With Parkway beginning to lose their shape and conceding the ball too easily in midfield, the hosts reduced the lead further on 65 minutes. Moore failed to get any distance on his punch from a corner with the ball falling to Covil who linked well with Ballinger in the 18 yard box with the latter slotting home from close range.

The momentum was now with the hosts as Parkway struggled to retain possession in midfield and were unable to get any rhythm into their play with too many long balls being easily dealt with by the Melksham defence. However one such long ball from Aaron Bentley on 66 minutes almost evaded the backpedalling Matt Hall who just managed to tip the ball over for a corner. On 70 minutes a strong run and shot by Davis saw the keeper initially save well, with his outstretched foot blocking the follow up effort by Crago. Williams saw yellow on 70 minutes as the hosts continued to look dangerous along the flanks with Parkway losing their composure and shape at critical times, continually conceding possession in midfield and allowing the hosts to dictate play. On 75 minutes the match became all square as substitute Ballinger notched his second from a tap in after Parkway lost the ball in midfield with the hosts breaking along the right and overrunning the Parkway back line. With Parkway looking shellshocked, the rampant hosts took the lead on 78 minutes. They once again won the ball in midfield and a neat exchange released the unmarked Mawford who showed good control and composure in rounding the exposed Moore and firing home an angled drive from around 15 yards.

Parkway replaced Davis and Palfrey with Tom Bath and Jordan Copp on 81 minutes as they desperately searched for an equaliser with the hosts now looking to see the game out. Allen picked up a yellow card on 85 minutes as Parkway pressed but were unable to provide the necessary quality in the final third to breach the host’s defence. Ballinger almost caught Moore napping on 86 minutes with an outrageous effort from the half line which was fumbled behind for a corner. Greg Tindle then replaced the hard working Mawford as Parkway huffed and puffed but were unable to break down the hosts solid back line with the final action in stoppage time seeing Garside fire over from around 20 yards after Matt Hall had punched away a cross from the right. There was just time for Ollie Webb to receive a yellow card for a foul before the referee blew the final whistle on what had been a roller coaster 2ndhalf.

Coming into the Southern league was always going to be challenging against higher standard teams but to let a 3 goal lead slip at any level is hugely disappointing and frustrating. Parkway were the better side and generally in control for an hour of the game but lost their way, shape and composure for the last 30 minutes against strong running and determined opponents who made the most of the opportunities gifted to them. The defeat sees Parkway in drop to 8thin the league and the number of goals being conceded and in particular the manner in which they are being conceded will be of concern to the management.

They now have a week to reflect, react and look for a positive response when they hit the road for the 4thsuccessive time next Saturday when they visit Evesham United for their longest journey of the season, a 340 mile round trip, with Evesham having been beaten 5-1 at Highworth today.

Line up: 1 Moore, 2 Davis (Copp 81), 3 Hall, 4 Palfrey (Bath 81), 5 Rose, 6 Bentley, 7 Williams, 8 Allen © ,9 Garside, 10 Carter, 11 Crago

Substitutes: 12 Copp, 14 Bath, 17 Landricombe (unused), 17 Coombes (GK unused)