FT: Plymouth Parkway 4 (M. Williams 10, Duff 15, Calver 21, Rowlands 60)
Ilfracombe Town 2 (Roberts pen 69, Mason 89)
In front of a below average crowd of 121, Parkway entertained SW Peninsula League East Division leaders Ilfracombe Town in the 2nd round of the Devon St Lukes Challenge Bowl. Parkway made 3 changes from Saturday’s FA Vase victory at Woodbridge Town with Jordan Bentley, Jack Calver and Fletcher Williams coming in for Rob Farkins, Billy Palfrey and Adam Carter. Amongst the substitutes was the surprise inclusion of dual registered and former Parkway favourite Levi Landricombe looking to build his fitness levels and get game time after his operations and long injury lay off.
The game got off to a lively, open start with the visitors Alfie Moulden testing the Parkway Supporters Club player of the month for December goalkeeper Kyle Moore after 4 minutes. Parkway were quickly into their stride however moving the ball at pace and took the lead on 10 minutes. Good link up play along the right between Craig Duff and Mikey Williams saw the latter cut inside and fire a low angled drive across Jamie Matthew in the visitor’s goal into the far bottom corner. With the impressive, pacey Moulden looking dangerous running from midfield, his shot from distance on 12 minutes was fumbled by Moore who managed to smother the ball at the second attempt.
With Parkway now beginning to dominate with fast flowing passing and movement in transition, they doubled their lead on 15 minutes. A neat exchange between Duff and Shane Krac saw the latter pick out the intelligent movement of Duff who moved forward and coolly placed a cleverly lofted drive over Matthew from around 15 yards. With Parkway completely in control in midfield, playing at a high tempo and with intensity, Ilfracombe were in danger of being overrun with Moulden picking up the game’s first yellow card on 18 minutes for a foul. Parkway’s continued pressure saw them create further chances and they went further ahead on 21 minutes. With the increasingly influential Krac dictating the play, his penetrating ball found Ryan Lane clear on the left who drove forward at pace and laid the ball back to Calver who finished with aplomb firing a powerful rising left footed drive into the top corner from around 20 yards giving Matthew no chance.
Ilfracombe were struggling to deal with the pace and movement of Parkway, conceding space in midfield allowing Parkway to push forward at will. The visitor’s sporadic counter attacks were being dealt with comfortably by the Parkway defence which allowed their full backs to get forward to support the midfield. Parkway were forced to shuffle their defence on 27 minutes with central defender Nick Milton appearing to pick up an injury and being taken off as a precaution. Aaron Bentley moved to the centre of defence with Palfrey coming on to slot in at right back. With their 3 goal cushion, the Parkway energy levels and tempo dropped slightly allowing Ilfracombe more of the ball and create the occasional half chance with a shot being curled just wide on the half hour.
The hard working Duff then won a midfield challenge and put Jordan Copp in the clear forcing Matthew into a fine save. The visitors Chris Roberts then had a powerful shot well saved on 34 minutes as Ilfracombe began to get into the game more putting the home defence under some pressure. Another swift Parkway move along the left on 38 minutes saw Mikey Williams exchange a series of passes with Lane whose low drive across Matthew smacked against the base of the far post and rebounded to safety. With Parkway continuing to threaten, another fast break down the right on 43 minutes saw the ball played into the impressive Duff who saw his shot pushed behind for a corner by Matthew. The final chance of the half fell to the visitors with an effort going just wide. A strong opening half hour from Parkway in which they played some excellent football, dominated midfield with their approach play backed up by clinical, quality finishing highlighting the difference between steps 5 and 6 at which the two sides play.
The visitors gradually got back into the game as the pace slowed and may well have reduced the deficit had they capitalised on the occasional forced error in the Parkway back line. Parkway made a double substitution at half time with Landricombe and Francis Rowlands replacing Krac and Mikey Williams with Calver being handed the captain’s armband. Ilfracombe started the half with greater intent creating an early chance forcing Moore into a decent save. However Parkway almost increased their lead on 50 minutes when an incisive passage of play down the left saw Fletcher Williams, who had been quietly efficient in midfield, narrowly fail to connect with a deep cross to the far post. Play became more even as Ilfracombe began to force the pace with Moulden at the heart of most of their attacking moves. An Ilfracombe free kick on their left was fired wildly over on 54 minutes as Parkway were forced on to the defensive and not being allowed to reproduce their first half dominance.
Matthew was in the action again on 58 minutes parrying a Calver free kick from 25 yards then blocking the follow up close range effort by Landricombe from the rebound. Arguably against the run of play Parkway went further ahead on the hour. Persistence and clever play by Copp tight to the right hand touch line saw him leave 2 defenders in his wake and deliver a quality cross to the unmarked Rowlands who volleyed home spectacularly from around 15 yards for his first goal for the club.
With the game seemingly won, the Parkway intensity dropped further allowing Ilfracombe more possession from which they created a couple of half chances with Palfrey picking up a yellow card for a foul around the halfway line. Their persistence finally paid off on 69 minutes as they deservedly pulled a goal back. Once again the dangerous Moulden caused problems with a jinking, penetrating run along the right against some hesitant Parkway defending and was bundled over in the penalty area close to the bye line. Roberts confidently despatched the resultant spot kick.
Sam Phillips was immediately replaced by Sam Box for the visitors. Ilfracombe continued to threaten and began to look the better side forcing Parkway to defend strongly with Roberts seeing his shot fly narrowly over. Dave Mason replaced Cory Roach on 75 minutes for the visitors as the game became more stretched with a Sam Stephens powerful strike forcing another good save by Moore on 85 minutes. With Parkway now being restricted to playing on the counter, a break along the left ended with Palfrey heading the deep cross just over on 87 minutes.
As the game approached stoppage time with Ilfracombe on the offensive causing Parkway a few anxious moments, they reduced the arrears further on 89 minutes. Sloppy defending on the right allowed a shot on target which Moore could only parry away with the ball dropping kindly to the unmarked Mason who drilled home calmly into the bottom corner from around 6 yards. A patchy performance by Parkway with an outstanding first 30 minutes or so followed by periods lacking intensity and control. Credit should be given to a well organised, competitive Ilfracombe who recovered well from the early onslaught, never gave up and came back well in the second half showing why they are top of their league having only suffered one defeat so far this season. The victory sets up an intriguing quarter final tie when Plymouth Argyle will be the visitors to Bolitho Park on Wednesday 29 January with a 7.45 kick off. Parkway have no game this Saturday but will travel to Bradford Town next Wednesday for what should be an enthralling top of the table clash with first playing second in what could be a pivotal game in the destination of the title and both sides promotion ambitions. Hold tight!!
|1. Kyle Moore|
|16. Aaron Bentley|
|3. Ryan Lane|
|4. Jack Calver||Goal|
|2. Jordan Bentley|
|6. Nick Milton|
|7. Mikey Williams||Goal|
|14. Shane Krac|
|10. Craig Duff||Goal|
|15. Fletcher Williams|
|12. Jordan Copp|
|12. Levi Landricombe|
|8. Billy Palfrey|
|9. Adam Carter|
|17. Francis Rowlands||Goal|