Parkway have their best ever start to a Western League campaign
A sizeable contingent of the Parkway faithful were in the bumper attendance of 289 at Homers Heath to see 2nd placed Buckland take on league leaders Parkway. The recent reverse fixture ended in a 0-0 draw with Buckland the only team to deny Parkway a win so far this season along with being the only side to deny them scoring. One change was made from Saturday’s victory over Bridgwater Town with Rob Farkins, returning from injury, replacing Jordan Bentley in central defence. Amongst the substitutes was club captain Shane Krac returning from a lengthy injury lay off.
Parkway made a sharp start and on 2 minutes a short corner saw Callum Hall set up River Allen who shot just wide. With Parkway on the front foot and Hall involved in most of their attacks, his long range shot flew wide on 8 minutes followed by another effort on 15 minutes going narrowly over. Buckland were defending solidly, well organised and competitive in midfield, not allowing Parkway to get in behind them and restricting them to long range shots. Home keeper Andy Collings was called into action for his first real save on 23 minutes comfortably collecting Mikey Williams shot from just inside the 18 yard box.
The game went through a scrappy phase with both sides conceding possession too easily and being constantly penalised for minor petty infringements resulting in little flow to the game. Frustration began to creep in and on 27 minutes the Parkway manager was shown a yellow card presumably for ungentlemanly remarks to the officials! Parkway continued to dominate possession with Buckland continuing to press, defend well and deny the visitors time or space with their final ball lacking quality.
On 28 minutes a neat exchange between Ryan Lane and Craig Veal saw a deep cross reach Matt Wright who on the stretch could only find the side netting. The game continued to be a midfield battle with few clear chances being created however on 34 minutes in a rare Buckland attack they could have taken the lead. A smart interchange of passes wide on their left sliced through the Parkway defence with Alfie Tucker delivering a quality cross into the 6 yard area with only a last ditch clearance denying them a scoring opportunity. Play continued to be compressed in the Buckland half but with Parkway lacking penetration or the guile to unlock the solid Buckland back line.
The half finished in a messy fashion with a melee around the halfway line after a trip by Fraser Clark on Allen provoked a reaction which, after much toing and froing between officials, resulted in yellow cards for both. A feisty, competitive half with plenty of hard work and endeavour but lacking too much quality with Parkway unable to break down a resolute Buckland defence and being restricted to long range efforts most of which were off target with Collings not being unduly tested. His opposite number Kyle Moore was a virtual spectator as the Parkway defence dealt comfortably with the occasional Buckland threat.
The second half started in explosive fashion with Parkway taking the lead on 46 minutes. The quality that had been lacking in the first half quickly came to the fore with a sharp break along the right catching the Buckland defence cold. A swift interchange of passes between Harrison Davis and Williams saw Wright’s close range shot from the resultant cross only parried by Collings with Wright reacting the quickest to hammer home the loose ball. With Buckland now forced to look to attack more, a cross from the right on 48 minutes saw Michael Landricombe slice a defensive header narrowly past the post and behind for a corner. A speculative effort from JJ Evans on 51 minutes saw Moore initially fumble a save but quickly grab the loose ball at the second attempt. With play continuing at a pace and no quarter being given, Evans was shown a yellow card as Buckland began to apply pressure.
On 58 minutes a Lloyd Gardner cross from the left was well defended with on the hour, Jamie Lowry replacing the hard working Billy Palfrey. Parkway then increased their lead with another quality phase of play. Excellent link up play between Wright and Veal released the hard running Hall whose determination and pace took him past a couple of challenges and from around 20 yards fired a low shot past Collings. Buckland made changes on 65 minutes with Will Hancox and Ryan Keats replacing Gavin Collins and Evans respectively. Hancox made an immediate impact by almost straight away getting booked for a foul!
On 67 minutes Parkway should have gone further after a crazy spell with first Lowry and then Williams being denied. Collings saved one on one with Lowry with the loose ball falling to Williams whose shot from around 10 yards was cleared off the line by Clark. Parkway made their final changes on 68 and 70 minutes with Krac replacing the tiring Allen and Ryan Richards coming on for Veal.
Almost immediately Buckland clawed a goal back. A 30 yard effort from Ben Carter appeared to take a slight deflection on to the bar and dropped invitingly for Keates who slotted home easily from close range. With Buckland now looking to increase the pressure, a Clark effort on 78 minutes drew a fine save from Moore at full stretch low to his right and behind for a corner.
Play then switched with a trademark surging 80 yard run from Lane earning a corner.
The final 10 minutes saw a raft of yellow cards with Carter for the hosts and Williams, Hall and Richards seeing yellow for Parkway as the game lost its rhythm. Amongst all of this was another touch of quality. On 81 minutes a Parkway corner found Farkins at the far post nodding back into the danger area with the clearance falling to Richards around 20 yards out who hit a fantastic first time volley through a crowd of players only to be denied by an equally fantastic save by Collings which drew ripples of applause from all around the ground. With Buckland continuing to push forward in numbers looking for an equaliser, Parkway endured a nervy last few minutes but dug deep, defended well and ground out the win. An absorbing game befitting two sides at the top of the table and excellent value for £6/£4 to watch a live game as opposed to the extortionate £14.95 being demanded at the top end of the food chain to watch a game on TV! The game was arguably decided on two passages of quality play from Parkway with the first goal after some excellent team play finished by Wright and the second a finish of individual class from Hall. Credit to Buckland who have pushed Parkway all the way in their two meetings this season but the victory sees Parkway have their best ever start to a Western League campaign The win sees them go 9 points clear of Street who leapfrogged Buckland into 2nd place after their 3-0 victory over Odd Down (Bath) this evening. The journey continues on Saturday when Wellington are the visitors to Bolitho Park in what is already well on the way to being another sell out.
BUCKLAND: 1 Collings, 2 Belsten, 3 Tucker, 4 Booth, 5 Clark, 6 Parkin, 7 Carter, 8 Evans (Keates 65), 9 Bush, 10 Collins (Hancox 65), 11 Gardner.
Unused subs: Gaze, Wellington
PARKWAY: 1 Moore, 2 Davis, 3 Lane, 4 Palfrey (Lowry 60), 5 Farkins, 6 M Landricombe, 7 Williams, 8 Allen (Krac 70), 9 Wright, 10 Hall, 11 Veal (Richards 65).
Unused subs: L Landricombe, Bentley.