Finley Craske finds late winner to keep the points at Bolitho
Full Match Report
Images: Tom Finnie
Boosted by a bumper crowd of 484, Parkway entertained 11th placed Larkhall Athletic with Parkway looking to gain their 8th consecutive win and maintain their playoff challenge. Parkway beat Larkhall 1-0 recently in a closely fought encounter and tonight was expected to be no different with the visitors having drawn the most games in the league, 11, from their 30 games. 3 changes were made from Saturday’s win at Slimbridge with Tom Bath, Mikey Williams and Billy Palfrey starting in place of Adam Carter, Gabby Rogers and Callum Hall respectively.
Larkhall started the sharper with Alex Lambert firing an angled shot just wide on 2 minutes followed by a break along the right seeing a Harry Simons cross into the 6 yard area being cleared away. Play continued at a high tempo in a congested midfield area with neither side able to gain control. On 6 minutes a neat exchange between Williams and Finley Craske on the right saw a foul on Craske with the free kick eventually finding it’s way to Palfrey who shot well wide. With Parkway gradually gaining control in midfield, Ethan Mitchell shot over on 12 minutes with the visitors Jack Camm getting the game’s first yellow card for a foul.
With both sides playing with intensity and looking to create openings, play became attritional with a number of strong challenges along with a series of free kicks. On 18 minutes a flowing passage of play between Matt Andrew, Craske and Ryan Lane saw Lane’s cross find Bath whose shot was well saved by Sean Semmens. Larkhall responded with an attack along the left with a shot going narrowly wide. Parkway then had a period of possession moving the ball at pace making light of the bobbly surface with Bath laying the ball off to Williams whose low shot from around 20 yards was comfortably saved. On 20 minutes another penetrating run from deep by Williams saw his shot from around 20 yards pushed behind by Semmens at full stretch. From the corner the ball was cleared to Williams some 35 yards out whose speculative effort flew just wide. With Parkway now forcing the pace, on 26 minutes a slick passing movement along the left between Lane and Jack Crago created an opening with a close range shot being blocked and Craske firing the loose ball just over.
Larkhall continued to compete strongly in midfield, defend solidly and looking to play on the counter. On 30 minutes a break along their right saw Brad Norris get in behind the Parkway defence and deliver a dangerous low cross into the 6 yard area which deflected off Simons forcing a terrific save by Kyle Moore who somehow pushed the ball over from just under the bar. From the resultant corner a free header flew just over as the visitor’s period of pressure continued. On 34 minutes Lane and Norris received yellow cards after tangling and from the free kick wide on the right a Joe Hillard header flew just over. Play continued to switch from end to end and on 41 minutes another neat exchange on the right between Williams and Craske set up Lane whose shot from 25 yards flew just over with Semmens having it covered.
A competitive half with no quarter given and not much between the sides with Parkway creating the better chances but Larkhall also having chances of their own. Both defences were forced to work hard but generally remained solid with both keepers making good saves to keep the score at 0-0.
Jack Goodall was replaced by Dale Evans for Larkhall at half time with Parkway starting the half the better moving the ball around at pace and looking to stretch play along the flanks. On 48 minutes the Williams/Craske combination continued to create openings and test the Larkhall defence with Craske’s cross being cleared to safety. On 53 minutes Parkway almost took the lead. Bath escaped the clutches of his marker and hit the post with a shot from a tight angle after the referee had played a good advantage with Dan Restorick then seeing yellow for the challenge. Parkway continued to dominate and on 55 minutes Andrew won the ball in midfield and released Crago whose shot just over. On 56 minutes Williams and Craske combined again to set up Palfey whose shot from 15 yards took a wicked deflection wrong footing Semmens who did well to adjust and gather the ball. As the Parkway pressure increased, a Palfrey free kick centrally from around 30 yards crashed against the cross bar and away to safety with Semmens well beaten.
With play continuing at a frantic pace and Parkway looking the more threatening, on 63 minutes the visitors were reduced to 10 men with Norris receiving his second yellow card. Amazingly the same player had received a yellow and a straight red card in the reverse fixture. From the free kick Bath’s header found the back of the net with goal being disallowed by a tight offside decision. On 69 minutes the hugely impressive Craske was brought down just outside the penalty area with Restorick probably fortunate not to join Norris in the dressing room. Parkway continued to control the game building patiently from the back but were unable to penetrate the visitor’s backline with Josh Jones a commanding presence.
Rogers replaced Mitchell on 71 minutes as Parkway continued in the ascendancy with Larkhall content to put men behind the ball and absorb pressure. Fullbacks Lane and Craske were now pushing forward at every opportunity as Larkhall dropped deeper offering little threat in their attacking third. Another mazy run from deep by Williams on 74 minutes saw him evade a couple of tackles and set up Bath who pulled a shot just wide from around 12 yards. Carter replaced Bath on 75 minutes with Crago pulled in to play more centrally alongside Carter. On 76 minutes another Williams effort was deflected behind after good build up play from deep by Callum Rose and Palfrey. Parkway continued to dominate and on 78 minutes a jinking run by Rogers across the 18 yard area saw him eventually engineer space only to shoot narrowly wide.
Entering the last 10 minutes Parkway continued to probe for an opening moving the ball at pace but remaining patient with Larkhall continuing to defend in numbers and hang on. On 85 minutes Williams linked well with Crago along the right with the latter’s cross being overhit and cleared away. With a draw now looking a likely outcome Parkway were not to be denied and finally broke the visitor’s stubborn resistance on 90 minutes. Yet again it was from a move along the right with Williams linking well with Rogers whose deft flick into the path of Craske saw the Plymouth Argyle youngster drive into the 18 yard area and hit his angled drive low into the far corner to spark jubilation on and off the pitch. What a time to get your first goal for the club and in front of the watching Argyle manager too! 4 minutes time were added on with Parkway comfortably seeing the game out as Larkhall pushed on looking for a late equaliser to no avail.
As expected a tight, tense game against a well organised, competitive and energetic Larkhall who defended solidly and created chances of their own in the first half. Not always easy against 10 men but yet again Parkway showed their resilience, desire and patience, applying constant pressure which finally paid off with another late winner. With more clinical finishing the margin of victory could have been wider but credit to Larkhall who proved hard to break down and were tough opponents.
The victory sees Parkway move up 2 places to 2nd, 2 points behind leaders Frome Town with 2 games in hand, a point ahead of Cirencester Town with 2 games in hand and 2 ahead of Bristol Manor Farm with 3 in hand. AFC Totton, who lost 1-0 at Bideford tonight occupy the final play off slot 5 points behind Parkway having played 2 games more.
Parkway return to Bolitho Park on Saturday when 16th placed Lymington Town are the visitors with Parkway looking to continue their winning run and maintain their playoff position.
Parkway 1 Moore, 2 Craske, 3 Lane, 4 Mitchell (Rogers71), 5 Rose, 6 Landricombe ©, 7 Williams, 8 Palfrey, 9 Bath (Carter 75), 10 Andrew, 11 Crago
Substitutes: 12 Davis (not used), 14 Duffey (gk) (not used), 14 Hall (not used), 15 Rogers, 20 Cartrer.
Larkhall: 1 Semmens, 2 Goodall (Evans 46), 3 Warren, 4 Hillard, 6 Jones ©, 7 Lambert, 8 O Humphries, 9 Simons, 10 Norris, 11 Camm
Substitutes: 12 Evans, 14 C Humphries (unused), 15 Price (unused)