Parkway travelled to the only remaining unbeaten team in the league and league leaders Frome Town looking to build on their recent run of improved results and performances. 2 changes were made from Saturday’s FA Trophy victory over Salisbury with Callum Rose coming into central defence in place of Mikey Williams who moved into midfield to replace Jordan Copp and Matt Andrew returning from injury replacing the unavailable Jamie Lowry in midfield.
In front of a lively crowd of 433, the game got off to a fast start with Frome looking sharp and having a couple of early shots from distance, both off target. Parkway started to gain some possession and play through midfield with the hosts adopting a more direct style of play. On 9 minutes a timely challenge from Rose denied the lively James Ollis a run on goal. On 13 minutes Frome were forced to make an early change with Alex Monks replacing George Rigg who appeared to have taken a knock. On 15 minutes a strong run along the right flank by Finlay Craske saw his cross played into Williams who linked well with Hall who fired just over from around 18 yards.
Play continued at a high tempo with Parkway seeing plenty of the ball in midfield playing some fluent football but with the hosts pressing well, they were unable to break into the final third. On 23 minutes a Frome break along the right saw a cross fall to Jack Witcombe whose shot was deflected on to the post with the hosts appealing unsuccessfully for a penalty for hand ball from the rebound.
Frome continued to apply pressure, but Parkway continued to compete well, have their fair share of possession, and defend strongly when required. On 28 minutes the hosts should have taken the lead. Another counter attack along the right saw a cross fall to the unmarked Ollis who blasted over from close range. Parkway responded well and on 31 minutes created a half chance which James Carey in the Frome goal punched clear with Sam Teale clearing the loose ball.
Parkway continued to threaten and on 33 minutes a free kick on the right found Michael Landricombe at the far post whose header back into the danger area was cleared by Marcus Mapstone. Parkway continued a period in the ascendancy with Andrew looking sharp in midfield and on 36 minutes good work between Rio Garside and Ryan Lane along the left set up Billy Palfrey whose stinging 20-yard shot was well saved by Carey.
With Frome continuing to go direct and play on the counter, the deadlock was broken on 37 minutes. Their impressive playmaker Jon Davies cut in from the left and fired a low angled shot into the near post with Kyle Moore getting a hand to the ball but unable to stop the powerful strike. Parkway continued to play with intensity matching the hosts and on 41 minutes a strong run along the left by Lane saw him skip past the full back and fire in an angled shot which was headed behind for a corner. On 43 minutes another Parkway free kick was headed off the line with a late flag up for offside. Frome had a golden opportunity to increase their lead on the cusp of half time.
Parkway conceded possession in midfield allowing Ollis to go clear with his effort evading Moore and clipping the far post and going behind for a goal kick. A tight, well contested first half of few clear cut chances with Parkway matching their hosts, competing and defending well but unable to penetrate or get in behind a solid, well organised Frome back line. The second half continued at a fast pace and on 52 minutes Monk became the first player to be booked with the resultant free kick being played short to Palfrey whose 25 yard strike flew narrowly wide. Frome then broke quickly along the left forcing a corner with Mapstone’s header being cleared off the line by the energetic Palfrey.
On 59 minutes Parkway made a substitution and a slight formation change with Landricombe coming off for Tom Bath with Williams moving into the back four and Bath going up front alongside Jack Crago. Craske and Garside then linked well along the right with the final ball failing to trouble the Frome defence. Parkway continued to have plenty of possession as Frome were content to put men behind the ball, absorb pressure and look to play on the break. Parkway continued to probe but were unable to create much in the final third as the hosts defence remained compact and relatively untroubled.
On 65 minutes Chris Peck replaced Hallet for Frome with the tempo of the game slowing. Parkway made another change on 70 minutes with Harrison Davis replacing the busy Hall. Garside then saw his shot from around 18 yards deflected behind for a corner as Parkway looked for an equaliser but were being restricted to efforts from long range. On 72 minutes another Parkway free kick flew just wide as the hosts continued to look strong at the back with Carey rarely being called into action. Rex Mannings replaced Monks on 76 minutes for Frome as they looked to stifle and press Parkway in midfield and restrict their opportunities in the final third.
With Parkway pushing forward in the last 10 minutes leaving gaps at the back, Frome almost sealed the game on 82 minutes. Kane Simpson broke clear along the left beating the last defender and fired an angled drive against the outside of the post. Frome comfortably saw out the 3 minutes of stoppage time with the impressive Davies almost having the last word with his rasping drive being saved by Moore at full stretch. A tight, tense game in which Parkway gave the unbeaten league leaders an extremely hard test and cannot be faulted for their effort or commitment but lacked that vital cutting edge in the final third or the ability to get in behind a well drilled and well organised Frome defence. Ultimately a touch of quality for the goal decided the outcome but had Frome converted a couple of other chances could have won by more.
Undoubtedly the best side Parkway have played this season, they are unbeaten and top of the league for a reason and could well go on to be there at the end of the season. Parkway can take some comfort and positives from their performance in an at times intimidating atmosphere and were certainly not outplayed or overwhelmed in a game of fine margins. It doesn’t get any easier as second placed AFC Totton are the visitors to Bolitho Park on Saturday having inflicted a narrow 1-0 defeat on Parkway by a penalty in their first ever game at step 4. Totton also beat Frome 4-2 on penalties after being 2-2 at 90 minutes in the FA Trophy last Saturday so another tough game is envisaged.