Barder's last minute strike forces FA Cup replay
Parkway travelled to Oxfordshire for their first September fixture and it was a break from the league as they faced Didcot Town of the Southern Division One Central in the FA Cup.
On a heavy pitch, Parkway would fight and scrap but they will have to do it all again on Tuesday night writes Graham Lloyd…
Full Match Report
Parkway entered this seasons FA Cup by travelling to step 4 side Didcot Town of the Southern League Division 1 Central in the 1st round qualifying of the competition. 3 changes were made from Monday’s home defeat to Weston Super Mare with Reece Shanley, Austen Booth and Jack Crago starting in place of Tyler Ashmead, Jamie Lowry and Callum Hall.
On an extremely difficult and barely playable surface, Parkway started the game well forcing an early corner on 3 minutes which was headed goalward with Mikey Williams getting a final touch with the goal being disallowed for a narrow offside. Didcot responded almost immediately with Connor Barrett going clear on the right but pulling his long range shot wide. Despite the condition of the pitch making it difficult to play any flowing football, Parkway continued to look the more dangerous and on 8 minutes a good move along the left saw Crago flick a header on to Ben Seymour who under pressure was just unable to get his shot away. Rio Garside and Dan Rooney then linked well on 10 minutes to set up Williams who shot just over from around 20 yards.
On 14 minutes Parkway were forced into an early change with Hall replacing Rooney who had picked up an injury. Despite Parkway enjoying the majority of possession, the game lacked any great fluency with both sides defending well but unable to build any momentum with too many passes going astray. On 17 minutes a strong run along the right by Shanley saw him link well with Williams who released Garside who shot narrowly wide from around 20 yards. Didcot continued to play on the counter with early long balls from the back and almost took the lead on 20 minutes. Josh Hedges was sent clear along the left with his lobbed effort from around 20 yards going over the retreating Kyle Moore and bouncing back into play off the top of the crossbar and being scrambled clear by some last ditch defending.
The game continued to lack too much quality, turning into a scrappy, attritional, midfield battle with neither side able to dominate or retain possession or create any clear chances. On 26 minutes a Parkway free kick from deep on the right saw Crago’s header force the host’s keeper Leigh Bedwell into a save at full stretch for his first real action of the game.
Both sides continued to play long balls and on 30 minutes a deep cross from Shanley saw Bedwell just claim the cross ahead of the incoming Williams. Parkway began to look the more threatening gradually improving their passing game and on 33 minutes a long ball found Seymour who showed good control and awareness to release Ryan Lane whose cross to the far post found Crago whose strong header was pushed behind by Bedwell for a corner from which Booth glanced a header narrowly wide.
With Booth and Callum Rose forming a solid central defensive partnership against Didcot’s aerial threat, Parkway continued in the ascendancy restricting the hosts to a couple of long range efforts which failed to trouble Moore.
On 37 minutes a Parkway attack along the right saw Garside release the dangerous Seymour whose shot across the face of the goal from around 15 yards flashed narrowly wide.
Approaching half time a Didcot break along the left saw Hedges and Ollie Nadin link well to pull the ball back to Connor Barrett whose powerful shot from around 15 yards was superbly blocked on the line by some brave defending by Lane and eventually cleared to safety. The final action of the half saw another long ball into the host’s 6 yard area which the keeper gathered just ahead of the incoming Crago.
A half lacking too much quality with Parkway working hard in trying to impose their passing game with the hosts looking to be more direct and arguably creating the clearest 2 chances of the game.
Rose who had picked up a first half injury seemingly directly attributable to the poor surface was replaced for the second half by Aaron Goulty with Williams moving into the centre of defence.
Playing with the gusty wind behind them, Didcot started the half the sharper creating a couple of early chances with Moore tipping over a header by Hedges on 53 minutes as Parkway were forced to reorganise and regroup. On 56 minutes Harley Giles was the first player to be cautioned as play became more intense with both sides upping the tempo with Jamar Smith replacing Nadin for the hosts.
With Parkway gaining an element of control in midfield, they took a deserved lead on the hour. A penetrating pass from Booth through midfield found Seymour who released Goulty along the left with Seymour continuing his run to clinically steer home Goulty’s cross from around 6 yards.
Parkway continued to threaten as they looked to increase their lead with Billy Palfrey firing over from around 25 yards on 62 minutes after good approach play between Hall and Goulty. Hall then saw his effort from around 10 yards blocked as Parkway enjoyed a period of pressure with the hosts being forced to defend in numbers.
Didcot continued to compete strongly and play on the counter and on 72 minutes Smith cut in from the left with his angled shot being deflected into the side netting. On 74 minutes a flowing passage of play along the right saw Shanley, Goulty and Seymour link well to set up Garside whose shot from around 18 yards was cleared behind for a corner which was comfortably defended.
Sam Barder became the 2nd player to see yellow after a strong challenge on Williams which resulted in a lengthy period of treatment to Williams who was fortunately able to carry on.
On 78 minutes Didcot introduced Tyler Webb and Andi Noka for James Glover and George Palmer respectively as they went searching for an equaliser and began to look more threatening.
Booth did well to head away a corner on 80 minutes as the hosts pressure increased but they were unable to create any clear chances with Parkway defending solidly looking to clear long balls away from the danger area at every opportunity.
This they successfully achieved until the 2nd minute of the 4 minutes stoppage time when the hosts grabbed a dramatic late equaliser. A long ball into the wide left channel saw Parkway concede an unnecessary free kick for which Crago saw yellow. Barrett’s delivery to the far post into the crowded 6 yard area was headed clear only to drop to the unmarked Barder around 18 yards out who had time to turn unchallenged and showed good control to drill his powerful shot home through a sea of bodies giving Moore no chance.
With neither side able to force a late winner, the sides will meet again in the replay at Bolitho Park on Tuesday with a 7.45pm kick off.
A generally scrappy game of contrasting styles with few clear chances for either side on an unforgiving playing surface with Parkway being forced to reorganise after picking up 2 first half injuries. Dogged determination by the hosts saw them grab their late equaliser which Parkway will be disappointed to have conceded so late after looking the better side for long periods of the game but unfortunately being unable to withstand Didcot’s late pressure and manage the game out.
DIDCOT TOWN 1 (Barder 90+2)
PLYMOUTH PARKWAY 1 Seymour (60)
1 Moore, 2 Shanley, 3 Lane ©, 4 Palfrey, 5 Rose (Goulty 46), 6 Booth, 7 Williams, 8 Rooney (Hall 14), 9 Seymour, 10 Garside, 11 Crago
Substitutes: 12 Ashmead (unused), 14 Hall, 15 Goulty, 16 Mead-Crebbin (gk) (unused)
1 Bedwell, 2 Palmer (Noka 78), 3 McNeill, 4 T Bedwell, 5 Learoyd ©, 7 Barder, 8 Glover (Webb 78), 9 Hedges, 10 Nadin (Smith 56), 11 Barrett
Substitutes: 12 Humphries (unused), 14 Green (unused), 15 Smith, 16 Hawtin (unused), 17 Webb, 18 Noka, 19 Jeacock (unused).