FT: Bridgwater Town 1 (Brown 33) Plymouth Parkway 1
An impressive crowd of 194, including a vociferous, sizeable contingent from Bridgwater, descended on a sun drenched Bolitho Park as 2nd placed Parkway entertained 4th placed Bridgwater. Continued player unavailability for Parkway saw them make 2 changes from their midweek Devon Bowl semi final victory at Cullompton with Nick Milton and Jordan Trott returning to their defence. Bridgwater made a fast start quickly pushing Parkway on to the defensive. Bridgwater’s first throw in saw Tom Ellis launch one right under the Parkway bar with Kyle Moore under pressure just managing to push it over. Ellis continued this tactic throughout the game whenever within 30 yards of goal. Easy to predict but hard to defend. A rash tackle by Trott on 6 minutes saw him earn the first yellow card of the game and set the tone for the first half with play constantly being interrupted by petty fouls, bookings and perceived injuries. With Bridgwater looking a well organised, physical side, few chances were being created with much of the play being condensed into the congested midfield area. Teigan Rosenquest had an early shot from distance deflected for a corner on 11 minutes with Bridgwater countering and Moore gathering a goalbound effort at the second attempt. Play continued to be feisty with little flow to the game and Parkway unable to impose any authority or play at a high tempo. Bridgwater looking strong all over the park looked the more dangerous coming forward forcing Parkway to defend strongly. Another flare up in midfield on 21 minutes resulted in a yellow card for Ryan Lane with Christian Pople also being booked in the subsequent fracas despite seemingly being grabbed around the neck. The visitors Ian Bellinger was then yellow carded for a foot up challenge. Both sides were working hard to make a breakthrough with Bridgwater looking the more likely and Parkway unable to test James Annison in the Bridgwater goal. On 28 minutes Ellis headed just over from a corner and only a superbly timed tackle 12 yards out on the league’s top scorer Jack Taylor by Aaron Bentley prevented the striker getting his shot away. Bridgwater deservedly took the lead on 33 minutes. A long bouncing ball caused confusion in the Parkway 6 yard box with Jake Brown’s initial effort being well blocked by Moore with the rebound falling nicely to Brown who fired home from close range. Milton then became the 4th Parkway player to be booked on 35 minutes as Bridgwater continued in the ascendancy. From the free kick, Ellis had another free header which flew just wide. Parkway were still yet to test Annison as they struggled to create chances with the quality of their set plays also lacking accuracy. Despite this, they kept going and grabbed a lifeline in stoppage time at the end of the half with arguably their first real effort on goal. A long ball to Jordan Annear saw him flick the ball into the danger area causing confusion between Ellis and Annison allowing the predatory Adam Carter to loop his header over the onrushing keeper. A pretty turgid half with too many stoppages and little flow to the game which developed into a very physical battle with Bridgwater probably disappointed in conceding so late on. Bridgwater started the second half on the attack with an early break which was cleared for a corner with further missiles being launched by Ellis as Parkway hung on, at times desperately. During another goal mouth scramble Bentley appeared to sustain a nasty injury. On 49 minutes Moore rushed from his goal to cover for the struggling Bentley only to be rounded by Taylor who looked certain to score but more heroic defending by Parkway blocked his effort which was deflected for a corner. On 51 minutes Bentley was replaced by Les Afful and with no defensive cover available on the bench, the versatile Mikey Williams dropped back into central defence. Another Bridgwater corner caused another 6 yard box melee which ended with the robust Ellis receiving a caution for shoving a Parkway player in the chest. Parkway gradually began to gain some decent possession, move the ball quicker and for the first time in the game looked the better side although their set pieces still lacked quality of delivery. With Pople tigerish in midfield winning tackle after tackle and breaking up play and with Parkway starting to use the wide areas to better effect and stretching Bridgwater, they began to create chances. Mike Smith replaced the hard working Lane on 68 minutes with Mark Armstrong replacing Mike Duffy for the visitors. With Bridgwater still looking dangerous on the break they saw a header from a corner cleared off the line on 74 minutes forcing Williams and Milton to concentrate and remain strong at the back. On 75 minutes Parkway almost took the lead. A quality cross from the left by Trott saw Carter rising at the far post only to see his looping header from around 8 yards bounce off the crossbar with Annison beaten. Carl Jones then replaced Ballinger for the visitors as Parkway upped the tempo forcing Bridgwater to defend deeper. A superb sixty yard crossfield ball from Milton put Annear clear down the left only for his angled shot to clear the bar. On 83 minutes a Trott free kick again found Carter and again his powerful header hit the bar before being cleared to safety. With Parkway now playing with much more fluency and winning most of the aerial battles, they continued to push hard for the winner with a Sam Hillson cross being headed just over by Annear. A penetrating run from midfield by Afful saw him seemingly brought down on the edge of the box only to be booked for diving, the 5th Parkway player to be booked. With time running out and Parkway pressing hard, Milton was pushed forward and had a good shot well saved in stoppage time. Despite pushing hard and being the better side and dominating for the last 20 minutes, Parkway were unable to find a winner and had to settle for their 2nd draw in succession against a strong, physical Bridgwater outfit. With more clinical finishing and a bit of luck, Parkway could have just nicked it but Bridgwater always looked dangerous, defended well and deserved their point as they remain in 4th place. With leaders Willand Rovers (82 pts) losing 2-0 at in form Cribbs today, Parkway regained top spot by a point (83) having played a game more and with Bitton (82) winning handsomely 7-0 today, they close the gap whilst remaining in 3rd place also having played a game more than Willand. With 4 games to go, Parkway remain very much in contention for the league title which could go the last game of the season when they visit Chipping Sodbury and Willand go to Bitton. There is little respite for Parkway as, after a couple of days to recover from today’s tough game, they now travel to Cadbury Heath on Wednesday for the semi final of the Les Phillips League Cup. The winners will then meet either Bridgwater or Willand in early May.
|1. Kyle Moore|