A fine start to this seasons campaign… Marks out of ten?
By Mike Parrish
With Parkway now over a month into this seasons campaign which started back on the 3rd August with a 7-1 home win over Cadbury Heath, the fans have pretty much seen everything. From the often ‘sublime’ to the at times ‘we can do better’, the club see themselves at a good point as they prepare to welcome Bideford to Bolitho Park tonight in the Devon St. Lukes Bowl. Let’s look at some key points that have shaped Parkways start to the season.
New signings: The busy preseason period brought with it new faces to the club as some old faces moved on. Jack Calver hit the ground running as Lee Hobbs reacquainted the former St. Austell player with a midfield role instead of his usual spot at left back and what a move it proved to be. Calver has embedded himself into that role and has added goals to his game, and not just any goals but world class efforts. Jordan Copp has since moved into the left back role and has brought with it added style along with a set piece masterclass. Most notably a 25 yd wonder strike in a 10-0 demolition of Odd Down Bath at the weekend.
Will Tinsley has been hugely effective at right back and has given the back four added steel. The no.2 has at times been played from the bench but has not moaned and when called upon has not put a foot wrong. He can also throw the ball quite far too! Antonio Costa has quickly become a fans favourite with his smiling open nature and has looked dangerous when given space. The Italian will only get better as he adapts to English non-league football as he continues to understand what is needed at this level. Curtis Damerell has patiently sat in Adam Carter’s shadow – but most youngsters will. That has not stopped Damerell from making an impact. The former Millbrook strikers pitch coverage has been brilliant to watch and has laid on a hat full of goals for his teammates. Fans have said that he just needs a goal to help his confidence and on Saturday, his confidence was given a lift with his first competitive goal for The Yellows as the youngster will hope that’s the first of many.
Fletcher Williams has been biding his time in the first few weeks but he was given the chance to show what he can do as the midfielder started the past two games. Williams, who has been dealt cruel injury blows in the past showed what a talent Parkway have on their books as he played in an advanced midfield role on the weekend and hit two goals in a MOTM performance. It showed Parkways fans a glimpse of what he is capable of and has only added to Lee Hobbs and Karl Curtis’ team selection head-ache.
The squad as a whole looks in good shape and have performed well over the first month or so of the season. Adam Carter has got off to a flyer and despite missing two games, the no.9 is already into double figures and his performances have landed him the player of the month award for August. Senior players in the shape of captain Shane Krac, Rob Farkins, Nick Milton and Mikey Williams have all showed glimpses of top form as they move into a busy period for the club. Aaron Bentley is back to his defensive best and is also putting his name on the scoresheet as he did so frequently last season. Keeper Kyle Moore has hardly put a foot wrong in goal and key players including Billy Palfrey, Teigan Rosenquest, Ryan Lane and Jamie Lowry have all caught the eye of the fans as the squad is slowing beginning to simmer nicely at just the right time.
The Yellows sit top of the tree after six games but Bradford and Bitton could overtake them if they get the right results with their games in hand. Despite defeat to Bridgewater and a dogged victory over Street, Hobbs’ men haven’t been troubled but there is room for improvement especially after the defeat to Bridgewater. The players were reminded that if they are not completely focused, teams will cause them problems this season. The football at times has been to a level that could easily adjust to Southern League football, this was evident against Paulton Rovers and Merthyr Town in the FA Cup and despite exiting to Town, they showed they can mix it against top quality opponents.
Tonight marks the start of the Devon St. Lukes Bowl, a tournament that yielded a final appearance last season at Coach Road which saw the Yellows loose narrowly to Exeter City academy in a 2-1 defeat. Tonights opponents are Sean Joyce’s Bideford AFC who play a league higher and Parkway will again have home advantage as the match takes place at Bolitho in a 7:45pm kick-off.
This week also witnessed the draw for the first round of the FA Vase and the club will be on their travels. The Vase ranks highly on Lee Hobbs’ agenda this season as he would like to see his side put together a long overdue cup run in this seasons competition. The first test will take place on October 12th as The Yellows have been drawn away to Wessex Division One side Romsey Town. Romsey are based up near Southampton and a coach will be running for the players and fans if you fancy a cup day out.
But attentions turn to Bideford tonight and only three days later, the players will be tying their boot laces again as Bolitho will host Western League competition as Keynsham Town travel to Plymouth. The Yellows previous meeting with Town came in last seasons Les Phillips Cup when Parkway sealed their passage with a 2-1 victory over a strong and physical Keynsham outfit.
Bitton looms large on the horizon a week Saturday in what will be another bruising encounter in a top of the table ‘six pointer’ clash.
The games are now coming thick and fast and with Parkway performing well on the pitch, it is important to note that the community club is performing well off it. The new Full Time club house has played an important part in this – as it is now the focal point for fans and the younger generation of players to mix with todays current squad. The site of Parkways academy mixing with todays players is maybe the most iconic picture of the season to date as it shows a different side to the club which many people don’t see.
It is always important to remember that the club has come along way in a short space of time and although they are ambitious and rightly so, the work off the pitch is just as important. The match day experience is growing with music and a new stadium announcer adding another new layer to a day out at Bolitho. All these things are hugely important to make the fans experience of Bolitho one that they would like to come and experience again and again.
Why not come down and see for yourself? It’s a new look Bolitho and a new look brand of football the Yellows are putting together this season. I think you might like it…