Nearly halfway through the season, time for a weekend away!
By Mike Parrish
Today, the squad travel to Suffolk, a day earlier in preparation for their 4th round FA Vase fixture against Woodbridge Town. The planning for this weekend was put in place days after the draw was made live on Talk Sport 2 and it epitomises the forward thinking and structure the club have adopted over the past three years. Regardless of the score line, it will be a weekend away the Parkway faithful will remember for a long time to come.
Parkway boss Lee Hobbs and Karl Curtis will go into this fixture with an injury and suspension free squad, something they have struggled with during December. It will be a difficult decision as to what starting eleven the manager puts out especially after victory on Tuesday night over Keynsham Town. The AJW stadium would witness Parkway play a brand of football that has at times been missing in recent games and the win would be epitomised by a scintillating second goal. A breath-taking move would start from Kyle Moore and would finish with Adam Carter firing past the keeper as The Yellows moved the ball from back to front and remind everyone just how lethal they can be. It was a completely different performance from that of Boxing Day when Tavistock deservedly took the bragging rights with a 3-2 Devon Derby win at Bolitho Park. Two days later Parkway were back on their travels as they headed to Meadowlane to face Westbury. Off the back of defeat, Parkway stuck together and dug out a huge three points against a dangerous opponent on a difficult surface. Hobbs talked of his players learning how to run and work hard again to finish with 3 points and to rejuvenate the squad. Two more victories on the bounce would see Parkway return to top spot in the Toolstation Western League but maybe more importantly, quash the defeat of Boxing Day as the squad turn their attentions to Woodbridge Town.
The Woodpeckers will be in large, an unknown quantity for Hobbs’ men but that just adds to the beauty of the FA Vase. The Suffolk outfit play in the Eastern Counties Premier League and sit 7th after 20 games played. One of the favourites for the Vase, Stowmarket Town play in the same league and currently have a healthy 13-point lead at the top of the table. Stowmarket dispatched the Woodpeckers 7-0 back in September with David Cowley scoring a hat-trick in the process. Only two games later, Jamie Scales side themselves put seven past Gorleston and have since gone on to play nine more league games, winning 3 times in the process. In recent games, they have lost at home to Whitton 2-0 and last weekend would again taste defeat as they suffered a 1-0 defeat at Trafford Park as Charles Clarke got the winner for Wroxham. Woodbridge’s FA Vase campaign has seen them beat Tring Athletic 3-1 with a goal coming from former Trinidad and Tobago international Carlos Edwards. A 5-2 drubbing over Godmanchester Rovers would follow in the next round and set up a third-round tie with fellow eastern counties Premier division outfit Stanway Rovers. Nottcuts Park would witness a 1-1 draw after extra time and the game going to a replay. The replay would see Carlos Edwards steal the show with a Hat-trick as the Peckers ran out 4-0 winners and set up a fourth-round encounter with Hobbs’ men. Despite recent defeats, the age old saying of ‘league form goes out of the window’ stands true as I’m sure Nottcuts Park will be rocking as all the ingredients look to be in place for a fantastic afternoon of Non-League FA Vase action, who needs the Premier League eh?
With this being the first Parkway Preview of 2020, it seems only right that we stop and evaluate what has been another step in the right direction for a club that has always seems to have one eye on the future. The ground is now unrecognisable to the one that I arrived at on my first day of work experience back in 2017. Yes, the pitch is still the same, but the surroundings are always evolving. A new clubhouse is now fully functional and can be seen as the Jewell in the crown of Bolitho’s ever-expanding vision. The clubhouse project is testament to the board who seemed to have got the balance just right between a club house for match days and a private function hire that will generate funds for the next step of the regeneration of Bolitho Park. Alongside the clubhouse, the chairman and board have been busy thinking about the away day experience for the players and travelling supporters. A new coach has been acquired with better facilities and the Parkway identity on the outside as the club badge and typography adorn either side of the blue and yellow team coach. Again, this being done with the vision of the future at the forefront of the boards thinking.
With the new year well underway, the club also remembered the lives of Jim Parsons and Alan Horswell who sadly passed away and gave a timely reminder to the importance of the people who worked tirelessly to put solid foundations in place – this club would be nothing without them.
On the field hasn’t been too bad either… With 48 competitive games getting played in 2019, Hobbs’ men have won a staggering 40 of them and drawing 4 and losing only 4 – That’s some going. It would yield a second-place finish in the league, a County Cup runner up spot and champions of the Les Phillips League Cup. The brand of football is ever evolving within the squad. New signings Jack Calver, Jordan Copp and Fletcher Williams have reduced the overall age of the team and at the same time, raised the quality. The recent signing of the experienced Craig Duff could prove a valuable one after fine performances against Bridport and Keynsham proved the former Willand Rovers front man’s worth. With Parkway stepping into step 5 of the non-league footballing pyramid and the Western League, the nucleus of the squad during this transition is slowly etching their names into Parkway folk law history.
Kyle Moore has kept an impressive 19 clean sheets this season and the defensive line in front of him have built a solid foundation. Aaron Bentley, Rob Farkins Nick Milton and Ryan Lane all add different qualities to a back line that Lee Hobbs and coach Karl Curtis will look to have available every game. The strong back line has been strengthened further in recent weeks with the signature of Jordan Bentley who, as Lee Hobbs describes, has come home after leaving Tiverton Town for his hometown club. The younger brother of Parkway teammate Aaron, Jordan brings another wealth of experience despite his relatively young age.
Jamie Lowry, when available plays a brand of football that elevates the current crop of players into a different gear. Shane Krac is now playing the game with the shackles loosened. The captain is leading by example and it is rubbing off on the younger generation. Billy Palfreys signature was a big moment for the club and the former Truro player has hit the ground running this season. A player who has been on the fringes for much of the season so far is Teigan Rosenquest, the young winger is seen by many as a player who adds energy and quality into the squad. His man of the match performance against Keynsham Town proves that he will no doubt play a big part in this seasons campaign. Rosenquest is battling against Jordan Copp and Mikey Williams who are lighting up the touchlines up and down the league.
Jordan Copp’s four goals against Hamworthy in the FA Vase will be seen as his standout moment of the season but he has added a new dynamic on either wing. With Copp flying on one wing, Mikey Williams has slowly started to move through the gears after recovering from a hamstring injury which halted his early season progress. The winger has still managed to hit 15 goals this season but the man for goals is the prolific Adam Carter. Parkways No.9 goals may grab the headlines but his off the ball work that may be the most important part within the squad. With 24 goals in 16 league games, Carter heads the scoring charts in the Western Premier and is nine goals clear of Shepton Mallet’s Jack Fillingham.
All caught up? Good… With the Parkway Express moving along as some questionable music rings out over the speakers all that’s left to say is who will be in the hat for the 5th round of the FA Vase? Woodbridge or Parkway? Or both if the game ends all square. Whatever happens, it is another milestone in the journey of Plymouth Parkway’s players, management, committee and supporters in this 2019-20 season which is starting to move through the gears.
Photos courtesy of Dave Crawford
Keep up to date on Parkways big FA Vase fixture tomorrow by following @PlymouthPFC on twitter with Kick Off at 3pm