Highworth v Parkway | Match Report

Parkway in the hat after quintessential English cup tie

Words by Graham Lloyd
Images by Dave Harry

Highworth Town 3 (Edenborough 5, 38, 65)

Plymouth Parkway 5 (Crago 40, 80, 88, Grabe og 45, Bath 81)

Parkway travelled to fellow Southern League Division side Highworth Town and created more club history as they competed in their first ever game in the FA Trophy, a competition for sides at steps 1-4 in the National League System. A good number of Parkway supporters were in the crowd of 135.

3 Changes were made from the recent defeat at Bristol Manor Farm with Harrison Davis and Callum Hall, both returning from suspension, replacing the injured Ethan Mitchell and the suspended Ryan Lane respectively and Matt Andrew coming in for Michael Landricombe. On a sloping pitch but in otherwise perfect conditions Parkway created an early chance on 3 minutes with Jack Crago firing over after good work by Mikey Williams however it was the hosts who took the lead on 5 minutes. A long ball to the right found Ashley Edenborough some way out with his angled lobbed volley going over the backpedaling Kyle Moore. Parkway made a nervous start with their passing sloppy and conceding possession in midfield too easily with the hosts looking to be more direct. Callum Rose and Aaron Bentley at the heart of Parkway defence however were able to deal comfortably with the Highworth attacks.

With Hall and Davis looking to get forward at every opportunity, Hall created a chance on 10 minutes with Crago shooting just wide on 15 minutes after another strong run forward by Davis. A Hall break forward along the left on 20 minutes released Crago whose shot was blocked with the rebound being smothered by Conor Thompson in the host’s goal. With Parkway beginning to get a foothold in the game they won a series of free kicks and on 22 minutes Allen’s kick from around 25 yards rebounded off the wall and away to safety. Adam Carter prodded an effort just over from a corner on 23 minutes just before Edenborough received the game’s first yellow card as the flow of the game continued to be broken up by a series of niggling fouls by both sides.

On 28 minutes good play down the right by Andrew set up Allen whose 25 yard shot was tipped away by a flying save from Thompson. On 35 minutes Parkway were forced into a substitution with the unfortunate Andrew picking up an injury and being replaced by Jordan Copp in midfield. Highworth continued to play on the break forcing a couple of corners and from one on the left on 38 minutes they doubled their lead with Edenborough’s close range glancing header finding the net at the unguarded far post. Parkway responded almost immediately with Williams breaking forward into the 18 yard area and finding Crago who showed good close control to turn and fire a left footed shot beyond the diving Thompson. On 42 minutes a shot from the dangerous Edenborough was gathered at the second attempt by Moore with Crago then breaking clear and setting up Palfrey who ballooned his shot well over. Parkway continued to press and drew level in stoppage time forcing a corner on the left which was diverted into his own net via the head of Matthew Grabe. A fast and furious half with Parkway forcing their way back into the game after conceding two poor goals from some loose defending.

Highworth replaced Oliver Case with Liam Haines at the break with Parkway starting the second half at a high tempo creating a couple of early chances. Davis saw his shot comfortably saved on 47 minutes with Carter going close on 52 minutes seeing his close range shot being blocked on the line by Thompson. Parkway continued to dominate proceedings with Allen becoming more influential seeing plenty of the ball and displaying a good range of short and long passing. On 54 minutes good work on the left by Copp saw his cross find Crago whose header dropped to Palfrey who fired narrowly wide from around 15 yards. Parkway continued to apply pressure forcing the hosts to defend deep and at times desperately and a Davis cross on 57 minutes was headed behind for another corner.

Highworth made a double substitution on 58 minutes with Sean Wood and Toby Holland replacing Robert Dean and Harrison Edwards. Highworth then saw 2 yellow cards with Leon Morrison bundling Davis off the ball with Daniel Comer seeing yellow for disputing the decision. With Parkway pushing forward and leaving space in midfield, Highworth began to get back into the game and only a fine covering tackle by Hall prevented them going clear. The strong running Edenborough broke along the right on 62 minutes with his shot being well blocked by Moore. Arguably against the run of play the hosts retook the lead on 65 minutes. After a stoppage for a head injury to a Parkway player in the 18 yard area, Highworth were correctly awarded an uncontested dropped ball wide on the right and good work by Wood saw him pull the ball back to Edenborough who fired home from around 10 yards to complete an impressive hattrick. Parkway immediately replaced defender Hall with striker Tom Bath as they looked to get back on level terms.

A period of scrappy play then saw Wood and Copp yellow carded on 69 minutes with Palfrey following them into the book on 75 minutes as the game’s intensity increased. Parkway made their final substitution on 78 minutes with Landricombe replacing Davis as they continued to press and search for the equaliser which duly came on 80 minutes. A strong break through midfield and good link up play saw a cross find Crago in the danger area and again showing good close control against a tiring defence, he fired home from around 10 yards. With time running out and the spectre of no extra time and a penalty shootout looming at 90 minutes, Parkway took the lead for the first time almost straight from the kick off. They won the ball in midfield with Allen releasing Copp who went clear along the left and crossed to Carter who cleverly chested the ball down to the supporting Bath who rammed his first time low shot home through a crowd of bodies from around 12 yards.

Crago then saw his header from a corner expertly tipped over by Thompson on 84 minutes before Parkway finally sealed the game on 88 minutes. A delightful weighted long diagonal ball from Allen found the irrepressible Crago wide on the left who, showing great strength and determination, won the ball and go clear one on one with Thompson, calmly sidefooting past the keeper into the bottom corner from around 12 yards to complete a match winning hattrick. A thoroughly entertaining, at times feisty cup tie, against a well motivated and organised Highworth with Parkway displaying considerable resolve and resilience to twice come from behind with a particularly strong showing at the end of each half showing grit and determination not to be beaten.

They now await Monday’s draw for the next round when step 3 clubs enter the competition with ties due to take place on Saturday 30 October. This means that their scheduled home league game with Larkhall Athletic will have to be rearranged and should they be drawn away, that will result in 4 consecutive away fixtures which continues with a visit to Melksham Town next Saturday. After the late postponement of Highworth’s league game at Bolitho Park last Saturday and the hospitality shown to the visitors then and despite their defeat today, that hospitality was reciprocated by the hosts post match today. It was also a memorable return to Highworth for one Parkway supporter who was married in the town’s Methodist church 36 years ago and is still going strong!

Line Up:1 Moore, 2 Davis (Landricombe 78), 3 Hall (Bath 65), 4 Palfrey, 5 Rose, 6 Bentley, 7 Williams, 8 Allen ©, 9 Andrew (Copp 35), 10 Carter, 11 Crago

Substitutres: 12 Copp, 14 Bath, 15 Landricombe, 16 Coombes (gk) (unused)