Parkway produce fine away performance to force replay

For the second time this season, Bolitho Park will host an FA Cup replay as The Yellows again, play well in Oxfordshire writes Graham Lloyd.

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Graham Lloyd

Full Match Report

Parkway made the now very familiar 388 mile round trip to Oxfordshire in the 3rd round qualifying of the FA Cup, their 3rd consecutive visit to the area to a club within a 10 mile radius of the previous 2. Oxford City of the National League South, one step higher than Parkway in the pyramid, were the hosts on this occasion.

1 change was made to the side from Tuesday’s first league win of the season over Salisbury with Reece Shanley replacing the unavailable Harrison King.

On a warm autumn afternoon and on a testing 3g pitch, the hosts made a sharp start forcing 2 early corners which were comfortably dealt with by the Parkway defence. After a cagey opening spell it was Parkway who created the first clear chance.

On 7 minutes a defence splitting through ball by Ben Seymour released Rio Garside who went clear with his shot from around 15 yards being well smothered by the advancing keeper Ben Dudzinski. Oxford began to dominate possession with their patient build up play and on 11 minutes former Plymouth Argyle apprentice Klaidi Lolos went clear along the left with his angled drive unhinging the side netting from the stanchion resulting in a 5 minute delay whilst repairs were carried out.

On 15 minutes a Parkway break along the left saw a cross from Ryan Lane find Seymour whose shot was comfortably saved by Dudzinski.

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The hosts continued to dominate possession moving the ball around confidently and sharply as they looked to create openings and on 18 minutes could have taken the lead. A flowing move through midfield ended with Lewis Coyle pulling his effort narrowly wide of the left hand post from around 15 yards.

Parkway were working hard to combat the host’s passing and movement style of play with Callum Hall, Billy Palfrey and Garside showing good energy in midfield to press and close down the hosts.

With Oxford now growing into the game, on 23 minutes another slick passing movement along the right saw them penetrate the Parkway back line with Aaron Williams-Bushell dragging his shot just wide from just inside the 18 yard area when well placed.

Parkway continued to compete well without having too much possession as the hosts continued to build patiently with their neat passing style at times a pleasure to watch. Despite continuing to come under pressure, the Parkway defence remained solid with the central defensive pairing of Callum Rose and Austen Booth forming a formidable barrier.

The Parkway midfield trio along with Mikey Williams, Lane and Shanley supporting in the wide areas continued to chase and press as the hosts continued to dominate possession. On 27 minutes Oxford created a good chance with Olly Sanderson being put in the clear only to be denied by a fine reaction save by Kyle Moore with the resultant corner causing a scramble in the 6 yard area with Rose heading a close range effort off the line.

The hosts continued to threaten and on 29 minutes a run and cross from the right by Sanderson picked out Josh Ashby who had ghosted in from a deep position only to scuff his shot wide when well placed. Parkway continued to work hard to maintain their shape and were content to absorb pressure and play on the counter with Oxford continuing their patient build up play through the lines and controlling the pace of the game.

On 33 minutes Oxford created another opportunity with Williams-Bushell seeing his shot blocked after good build up play along the right followed shortly after by Josh Parker turning sharply and firing inches over the bar. On 38 minutes Parkway won the ball in midfield with Seymour just failing to reach the through ball on the edge of the 18 yard area with Dudzinski racing from his line to clear. Parkway continued to defend well as the hosts probed and prompted openings but it was Parkway who created the next chance. Entering 5 minutes of stoppage time as a result of the earlier net repair, a neat move along the left involving Hall, Seymour and Lane saw the latter’s deep cross just evade the head of the incoming Garside. The final flurry of action saw Oxford force another corner on the left which was only cleared to Coyle whose shot from just outside the 18 yard area was parried away by Moore and cleared to safety. Lolos then became the first player to be cautioned after reacting petulantly to a robust challenge by Lane as the half drew to a close.

An intriguing half with Parkway competing well against their higher league opponents, arguably the best footballing side they have faced this season. They rode their luck on a couple of occasions but maintained their discipline, shape and composure to go in all square at the break.

Oxford forced an early 2nd half corner with Parkway breaking on the counter with the industrious Garside going clear only for his final ball just failing to find the unmarked Seymour. The hosts made an early change with Zac McEachran replacing Sanderson on 50 minutes. A moment of hesitancy in the Parkway defence on 52 minutes created some confusion with the impressive Booth recovering well to clear from close to the goal line.

On 53 minutes a neat exchange of passes between Hall and Lane saw the latter’s cross cleared as Parkway continued their encouraging start to the half. On 55 minutes a long ball in behind the Oxford defence found Seymour who went clear only for a fine covering tackle by Tom Harrison denying the elusive striker a shot on target with Jared Lewington’s effort from the rebound being cleared.

After the early Parkway pressure, Oxford gradually regained control and continued to dictate play with their patient build up but Parkway maintained their high intensity pressing game to stay in contention.

Oxford made their 2nd change on 58 minutes with Jean Baptiste-Fischer replacing Alfie Potter. With the hosts continuing to threaten, on 63 minutes Parkway conceded possession in midfield enabling Reece Fleet to go clear only to fire well over from distance. On 64 minutes Oxford almost took the lead but were denied by a superb point blank reflex save by Moore from a Lolos close range header. Parkway were now being restricted to playing on the counter, defending deep and in numbers and on 70 minutes Garside did well to win a midfield challenge and break clear only to just overhit his cross which was cleared away.

On 72 minutes the dangerous Lolos shot wide after Parkway had conceded possession as Oxford continued to look menacing with Coyle seeing his effort from distance clearing the bar. On 74 minutes Lewington shot wide after a good passage of play along the left by Parkway with Hall, Lane and Williams again prominent.

Parkway made what turned out to be their only change on 75 minutes with Jack Crago replacing Lewington. With the game now opening up and Oxford becoming more direct and looking to shoot more from distance, a long ball just failed to reach Baptiste-Fischer with the Parkway defence doing well to clear.

As play intensified Booth was cautioned for dissent on 77 minutes with Garside following him into the book for a foul shortly afterwards.

With time running out Parkway took the lead on 81 minutes. Substitute Crago, making an almost immediate impact just 6 minutes after coming on, cleverly turned his marker wide on the left around halfway and powered forward with 3 retreating defenders allowing him time and space to rifle an unstoppable shot into the roof of the net from around 20 yards.

With Oxford now pushing more men forward looking to get something from the game, the pressure on Parkway increased with the hosts forcing a corner on 83 minutes and Rose seeing yellow after some desperate defending. On 85 minutes an Oxford free kick was blocked with the rebound being fired over as Parkway continued to hold out. Oxford made their final change on 86 minutes with Charlie Rowan replacing Coyle.

With Parkway desperately trying to manage the game out, ecstasy turned to agony in the 90th minute. An Oxford free kick from the right was swung into the crowded 18 yard area with Canice Carroll rising above everyone and looping a powerful header from around 8 yards into the top corner beyond Moore’s despairing dive.

With 5 minutes of stoppage time being signalled, Oxford continued to press but Parkway managed to retain enough possession to slow the game down to it’s conclusion and see it out for a well deserved draw in a game in which they so nearly won.

A battling, disciplined all round performance from Parkway to stretch their unbeaten run to 7 games against a very good footballing side from a higher league and arguably the best team they have played for a long time. Strong defensively, tenacious in midfield and dangerous on the counter, had they showed that little bit of extra quality with their final ball they may well have won the game.

Despite Oxford dominating much of the possession, the Parkway game plan and set up almost worked to perfection. One seasoned observer who has been connected with Parkway since the club’s inception was heard to comment that considering the overall context of the game and the quality of the opposition, it may well have been one of Parkway’s finest ever performances. There have been a few and he should know!  

The replay will take place at Bolitho Park on Tuesday with a 7.45 kick off by which time the winners will know their 4th qualifying round opponents with the draw being broadcast on talkSPORT 2 at around 3.15 on Monday. National League clubs enter the competition at this stage. Tuesday’s scheduled league visit to Poole Town will now be rearranged idc.

Match Info

OXFORD CITY 1 (Carroll 90)

PLYMOUTH PARKWAY 1 (Crago 81)

Parkway:

1 Moore, 2 Shanley, 3 Lane ©, 4 Palfrey, 5 Rose, 6 Booth, 7 Williams, 8 Hall, 9 Seymour, 10 Lewington (Crago 75), 11 Garside         

Substitutes: 12 Ashmead (unused), 14 Goulty (unused), 15 Landricombe (unused), 16 Crago, 17 Mead-Crebbin (gk) (unused)

Oxford City:

1 Dudzinski, 2 Ashby, 7 Coyle (Rowan 86), 8 Fleet, 11 Lolos, 12 Sanderson (McEachran 49), 14 Parker, 15 Harrison, 16 Potter (Baptiste-Fischer 58), 18 Williams-Bushell, 19 Carroll

Substitutes: 13 Way (gk) (unused), 3 Miccio (unused), 6 Rowan, 10 McEachran, 17 Baptiste-Fischer, 20 Humphrey-Ewers (unused)