Lessons to be learned as Parkway let 2 goal advantage slip away
Words by Graham Lloyd
Images by Dave Harry
Bristol Manor Farm 4 (Ford 27, 50, Short 52, Tooze 85)
Plymouth Parkway 2 (Kingdon og 12, Williams 34)
In atrocious weather conditions and with a depleted squad, Parkway made the midweek trip to Bristol Manor Farm with numerous other games in the league being postponed citing the current fuel situation. Around 20 of the Parkway regulars were among the crowd of 135. With Harrison Davis and Callum Hall suspended and Matt Andrew and Jordan Copp injured, 3 changes were made to the Parkway line up from their victory over Paulton Rovers 10 days ago. Plymouth Argyle loanee Ethan Mitchell, making his debut, Michael Landricombe and Adam Carter replaced Davis, Copp and Tom Bath respectively. Only 3 substitutes were able to be named. In driving rain the hosts made the early running with a break along the left seeing a shot blocked followed by Kyle Tooze shooting just over on 5 minutes. Parkway responded with Ryan Lane and Jack Crago linking well along the left with Crago’s cross being headed away.
On 10 minutes Tooze and Owen Howe combined well with Kyle Moore smothering Howe’s shot however it was Parkway who took the lead on 12 minutes. Crago went clear along the left with his angled shot across Ben John in the host’s goal heading for the far corner only for Steve Kingdon to turn the ball into his own net from close range in a desperate attempt to clear the ball. Manor Farm looking dangerous along the flanks almost equalised on 16 minutes with a firm header being cleared off the line by Callum Rose. Parkway continued to dictate play through the midfield with the hosts competing well and looking dangerous on the break. A period of Parkway pressure resulted in them winning a series of free kicks with Manor Farm’s Theo Llewellyn seeing yellow on 24 minutes with team mate Joshua Ford following him into the book shortly after. From another free kick on 27 minutes, Parkway doubled their lead. River Allen, having recently become a father for the first time, drilled in a low shot from around 25 yards which John could only parry on the slippery surface with Mikey Williams reacting the quickest to pounce on the loose ball and fire home into the roof of the net from close range.
The game continued at a high tempo with both sides moving the ball well looking to create openings with both defences coming under pressure but looking composed and comfortable with Mitchell particularly impressive. The hosts continued to threaten along the flanks and pulled a goal back on 34 minutes. A corner from the left was poorly defended by Parkway allowing Ford a close range free header which he buried beyond Moore. On 37 minutes Crago then saw his header from a Parkway corner comfortably saved as play continued to fluctuate with the hosts Aaron Robbins firing just wide when well placed. Williams then saw yellow for Parkway with the impressive Tooze becoming more influential and beginning to dictate proceedings. On 43 minutes Howe fired a free kick into the wall from around 30 yards. Approaching half time Parkway almost restored their 2 goal lead with Williams releasing Billy Palfrey clear along the left with John doing well to narrow the angle and clutch Palfrey’s rising goalbound shot. Both sides created further chances however Parkway managed to retain their slender lead going into the break in what had been an entertaining and well contested half in persistent rain with the pitch holding up remarkably well. With the rain easing, Manor Farm started the second half playing with intensity and drew level on 50 minutes after forcing a couple of corners on the right. The first caused confusion in the Parkway defence and was cleared off the line for a second one which came into the near post again causing hesitancy in the crowded 6 yard area allowing Ford to bundle home from close range for his second of the game. Parkway responded well with Carter linking with Williams to set up Crago whose shot was well saved. However it was the hosts who turned the game on its head by taking the lead for the first time on 52 minutes.
A break along the right saw full back Jamie Short cut in and fire an angled drive beyond Moore into the far corner. Mason Winter then replaced Robbins on 55 minutes as Parkway looked to work their way back into the game but it was the hosts who were now in the ascendancy and controlling the midfield by pressing Parkway and denying them time or space on the ball. Few chances were being created for either side as play became narrow and more compressed into midfield. Parkway forced a corner on the hour with the lively Crago heading just over. Ethan Phillips replaced Landricombe on 64 minutes as Manor Farm looked to retain possession and stretch the Parkway backline which continued to hold firm looking to build from the back but were unable to penetrate a solid Manor Farm defence. Ben Bament replaced Short on 76 minutes with the hosts continuing to look strong, well organised and generally in control with Parkway unable to build too much forward momentum. Their cause was not helped on 78 minutes when they were reduced to ten men with Lane being shown a straight red card for an off the ball incident, with Lewis Leigh-Gilchrist shown yellow in the same incident. Bath replaced Carter on 83 minutes as Parkway looked to inject impetus up front with the hosts slowing the pace as they looked to manage the game out.
The game was effectively sealed on 85 minutes with the formidable Tooze, in a central position, drilling home a low strike from around 25 yards after good build play along the left had set him up. Parkway created one last chance on 89 minutes after good work by the tireless Crago set up Bath whose snapshot flew just wide. The hosts made their final substitution on 90 minutes with Mike Bryant coming on for Leigh-Gilchrist and with no further alarms during stoppage time, Manor Farm secured the three points. An entertaining and hard fought game between two evenly matched sides in tricky conditions. After establishing an early two goal lead Parkway will be disappointed to come away with nothing and never really recovered from conceding the two early second half goals with the hosts the more dominant side in the second half which ultimately earned them their victory.
Parkway’s second defeat of the season sees them in sixth place and they now entertain seventh placed Highworth Town at Bolitho Park on Saturday when it is hoped they will have a full squad available. Despite Parkway making the 240 mile round trip to Bristol, Highworth called off their considerably less lengthy journey to Winchester tonight due to fuel issues and it is hoped they will not suffer the same fate on Saturday and the game will go ahead.
Line Up: 1 Moore, 2 Mitchell, 3 Lane, 4 Landricombe ©, (Phillips 64), 5 Rose, 6 Bentley, 7 Williams, 8 Allen, 9 Palfrey, 10 Carter (Bath 83), 11 Crago.
Substitutes: 12 Bath, 14 Phillips, 15 Hilson (unused)