A workmanlike, doughty performance by Parkway, made to work hard for the 3 points
In front of another sell out crowd, Parkway entertained Shepton Mallet making 1 change from their midweek victory at Wellington with Mikey Williams replacing Jamie Lowry in midfield. In blustery conditions and on a slippery surface, Parkway made the early running and had a half hearted shout for a penalty on 2 minutes waved away by the referee.
Shepton quickly got to the pace of the game which was developing into a midfield battle with neither side able to create too much and defences remaining on top. After a short period of Parkway pressure they took the lead on 14 minutes. A neat move along the left between Ryan Lane and Williams saw a corner conceded from a dangerous cross. From the corner a defensive clearance fell invitingly to Lane just outside the 18 yard box who showed superb technique and drilled a first time half volley low into the bottom corner for his 2ndgoal of the season.
With River Allen and Billy Palfrey coming more into the game, Parkway had periods of possession but the visitors were well organised in midfield, pressing hard and denying the hosts time on the ball and forcing them into conceding possession too often. On 19 minutes a Shepton break along the right saw Matt Morris deliver a telling first time cross into the 6 yard area with no one able to get a final touch. The game was turning into a tight contest with few chances being created with the visitors more than matching the league leaders in most areas. On 28 minutes Parkway did manage to breach the visitors back line with Craig Veal breaking clear only for his low strike to be saved by the legs of keeper Jonny Hill who spread himself well.
Parkway continued to probe for openings and a good move along the right by Palfrey and Veal forced another corner but the Shepton defence remained solid. Play became a bit scrappy with little flow to the game as the sides cancelled each other out with defences generally remaining on top and neither keeper being unduly tested. Approaching half time Shepton built an attack through midfiled which ended with Jack Fillingham seeing his 25 yard effort comfortably collected by Kyle Moore. A pretty even half which started with Parkway in the ascendency but with the visitors competing well, they gradually worked their way back into what was developing into a tight encounter. The quality of Lane’s strike lit up an otherwise pretty ordinary half.
Shepton were forced into an early substitution on 48 minutes with Cam Shorney replacing Aaron White who appeared to have taken a knock towards the end of the first half. On 54 minutes Williams then saw a shot saved shortly before Harrison Davis fired just over after linking well with Veal and Matt Wright. Shepton continued to create chances of their own and on 58 minutes Morris broke clear forcing Moore into a save low down. With Shepton now having a good spell, the Parkway defence came under pressure but held firm with Jordan Bentley imposing himself by winning numerous headers and tackles and making timely interceptions. A clever lob on the hour by Fillingham saw Moore do well to back pedal and clutch the ball just under the bar. After a period of sustained pressure, Parkway eventually doubled their lead on 61 minutes. A trademark surging run from deep along the left by the impressive Lane saw him release Veal who, despite a heavy first touch, just beat the sprawling Hill to the ball in trying to round him only to be clipped by the keeper and win a penalty. Richards stepped up and calmly converted to give Parkway a bit of breathing space. More good play by the hard working Richards saw him hauled back when breaking clear earning Shorney a yellow card. Callum Hall then replaced Palfrey as Parkway began to ring the changes. Shepton continued to threaten and almost pulled a goal back on 70 minutes with Morris again breaking clear and being denied by a brave close range block by Moore. Play continued to switch from end to end with a trademark mazy run by Davis being halted by a trip with Finn Haines receiving a yellow card.
Allen then saw his dipping free kick from around 30 yards pushed round the post by Hill as Parkway came back into the game. On 75 minutes Levi Landricombe replaced Wright who had worked hard winning his fair share of headers and linking play well against some resolute defending. On 78 minutes Parkway eased the pressure by going further ahead with a well worked goal. Determined play by Richards saw him win the ball around halfway wide on the left, drive forward and link well with Veal who beat his man and despite being in a good shooting position, unselfishly pulled the ball back to Williams who swept the ball home from around 6 yards.
On 80 minutes both sides made their final changes with Tiegan Rosenquest replacing Williams and Nathan Legge replacing Fillingham. With Parkway looking to slow the tempo and retain possession, Shepton continued to press and in stoppage time were rewarded with a consolation goal which their overall performance probably deserved. Determined play on the right saw some hesitant defending from Parkway who failed to clear their lines allowing Legge to fire home from close range. A workmanlike, doughty performance by Parkway who were made to work hard for the 3 points by a well organised, dogged Shepton who played their part fully in a tight contest
The superior quality of Parkway in the final third in converting their few chances was arguably the difference between the 2 sides. The win sees Parkway stay top now 6 points clear of Street who had no game today. Parkway now face probably their toughest game so far when they visit 3rdplaced Exmouth on Wednesday having narrowly recently beaten them 2-0, the only points Exmouth have dropped in their 6 games. Parkway then face mid table Bridgwater Town at Bolitho Park next Saturday in what is likely to be another all ticket sell out.