Despite failing to gain the win, another clean sheet, Parkway's 4th on the bounce
In front of another 300 all ticket sellout crowd, league leaders Parkway entertained 3rd placed Buckland Athletic in a Devon derby looking to make it 5 wins out of 5. 2 changes were made from Saturday’s victory over Cribbs with Callum Hall and Craig Veal making way for Nick Hurst and, making his 1st start of the season, captain Shane Krac.
The game started at a high tempo with Matt Wright firing just wide after 2 minutes. Parkway made the early running forcing a couple of corners which were comfortably dealt with by the Buckland defence. The game continued at fast pace as both sides began to feel each other out and a Buckland free kick just outside the 18 yard area on 13 minutes saw Richard Groves curl his effort just wide. With Krac, Billy Palfrey and Mikey Williams seeing plenty of the ball in midfield and Ryan Lane and Harrison Davis looking dangerous on the flanks, Parkway looked to exert some control but a well organised Buckland pressed hard and looked solid in defence as the game developed into an even contest.
On 18 minutes Buckland full back Danny Gaze received the game’s 1st yellow card for a robust challenge as Parkway began to apply pressure. With Parkway constantly looking to switch the angle of attack, a clever ball from Lane on 24 minutes found Wright in the clear with Ryan Richards in support only for him to take a first time shot which was well saved by Kenny Griffiths which turned out to be the first of many saves he would make. With Parkway now finding their rhythm and playing with intensity, a corner on 26 minutes was eventually cleared with Lane picking up the loose ball but firing wildly over. Another Parkway break on 28 minutes saw a neat midfield interchange of passing with Hurst’s shot from around 20 yards forcing Griffiths into a another smart save.
With Buckland combative in midfield and defending strongly, Parkway continued to look to create openings and a quick break down the right and more good build up play saw a Hurst shot from 15 yards cleared off the line with Krac firing the rebound over. The game continued to be hotly contested with Parkway having the lion’s share of possession but Buckland working hard off the ball to deny time and space and frustrate the home side. On 33 minutes a Parkway free kick drilled in low caused a scramble in the 6 yard area with Griffiths making another crucial save. Buckland made the occasional break forward but the Parkway defence, well marshalled by Rob Farkins, held firm leaving Kyle Moore relatively untested.
On 40 minutes the visitors Ben Carter received a yellow card for a strong challenge on Williams as the midfield battle continued. Approaching half time another Parkway attack created a close range header with once again Griffiths pulling off a fine save. An entertaining half with both sides showing good battling qualities in a competitive midfield with Parkway creating the clearer chances but resolute defending and fine goalkeeping by the visitors seeing the match all square at the break.
An early Parkway 2nd half attack saw a shot deflected for a corner with the ball coming back to Krac who fired over from 20 yards. With Parkway continuing to dominate possession, on 55 minutes a flowing move through midfield sliced through the Buckland defence only for Ryan Richards to see his shot blocked with Williams pouncing on the loose ball curling an effort just wide of the far post. On 57 minutes Buckland made a break along the right and a slip in the Parkway defence resulted in a close range drive from a tight angle crashing into the side netting. Hurst appeared to have picked up an injury and was replaced by Callum Hall on 61 minutes as Parkway continued to threaten. Parkway made their 2nd substitution on 65 minutes as the subdued Williams, who seemed to be struggling after receiving a couple of earlier heavy challenges, was replaced by Veal.
Buckland replaced Nick Rudge with Aaron Wellington shortly afterwards. Parkway continued to look dangerous with Krac and the quietly effective and industrious Palfrey working hard in midfield and Farkins making forceful runs from the back, another attack created confusion in the visitor’s 6 yard area with the loose ball finding Krac whose snapshot flew narrowly wide. As the pressure increased, a superb run by Lane from deep saw his floated cross find the unmarked Veal 12 yards out stretching to volley just over the bar. On 72 minutes another cross into the danger area saw a close range Parkway header crash against the underside of the bar, down on to the line and be hacked to safety. Richards then saw his shot cleared off the line by some desperate defending as Parkway continued their forward momentum and create further chances.
On 74 minutes Levi Landricombe replaced Richards who had worked tirelessly and linked play well all game but for little reward. Parkway continued to apply pressure as they tried to find a way through the stubborn, resilient Buckland defence which somehow held firm. On 75 minutes a break on the Parkway right saw the impressive Davis power forward and, after a neat interchange of passes, cut inside and curl a shot just wide of the far post. On 80 minutes after a good advantage played by the referee, Parkway forced a corner with the official going back to show Lloyd Gardner a yellow card after an attempted trip with no intention of playing the ball. A couple of snapshots from around 18 yards from Levi Landricombe failed to reach the target as Buckland withstood the barrage and continued to defend strongly with the vastly experienced Griffiths a commanding presence in the danger area with his assured handling of crosses and timely interventions.
Entering stoppage time another promising Parkway break wide on the left was illegally halted by Gaze who was shown his 2nd yellow card and dismissed with captain Groves receiving a yellow card for presumably disputing the decision. Parkway’s final chance came in the 93rd minute after another defensive clearance fell to Levi Landricombe whose looping header from 10 yards was comfortably saved by the impressive Griffiths. A thoroughly absorbing game from 2 highly committed sides with Parkway creating a host of chances but being constantly thwarted by a well organised and strong Buckland defensive display coupled with inspired goalkeeping which ultimately denied the hosts the 3 points.
Despite failing to gain the win, another clean sheet, their 4th on the bounce, and players showing good energy levels right to the end will no doubt be seen as positives for the management team. They are likely to play much worse and win. The result sees Parkway remain top with Buckland moving up a place to 2nd, 2 points behind having played a game more. The busy September continues for Parkway with 2 away games to complete the month with a visit to Brislington on Saturday followed by another trip up the M5 Wellington next Wednesday.