1 - Plymouth Parkway (Crago 14) 1 - Melksham Town (Malshanskyj 5)
Points shared in difficult conditions at Bolitho
Written by Graham Lloyd
Images by Dave Crawford
Parkway entertained Melksham Town looking to reverse the outcome of their earlier meeting when Parkway contrived to lose 4-3 after leading 3-0 with 30 minutes to go. Two changes were made from last week’s narrow victory at Highworth Town with Callum Rose and Rhys Shirley replacing Aaron Bentley and Mikey Williams respectively. After being on the substitute’s bench for Plymouth Argyle at Stamford Bridge last week, Finley Craske returned to the more humble surroundings of the Bolitho bench!
The game kicked off on a difficult playing surface and with the forecasted rain beginning to fall it was likely to get worse which it duly did as the game progressed. Parkway won an early free kick with a header going wide but it was the visitors who struck first. On 5 minutes Jay Malshanskyj latched on to a perfectly weighted through ball by Luke Ballinger to slot home low to Kyle Moore’s right from around 12 yards.
With both sides coming to terms with the demanding conditions, the game was being played at a surprisingly lively tempo and on 10 minutes a Melksham corner saw Malshanskyj flick a header on to David Thompson whose header was comfortably saved by Moore. With Parkway beginning to gain midfield control and River Allen, Matt Andrew and Gabby Rogers prompting and probing, they drew level on 14 minutes. Good build up play along the right between Rogers, Allen and Rhys Shirley saw leading scorer Jack Crago time his jump to perfection at the far post to nod home a delightfully delivered deep cross by Rogers.
The game continued at a lively pace with Parkway looking the more threatening and on 18 minutes they almost took the lead. A free kick on the right saw Michael Landricombe’s goal-bound header superbly pushed on the bar by Matthew Hall in the Melksham goal and cleared away to safety. Both sides continued to try and make light of the conditions as they tried to play their natural games with Malshanskyj looking particularly dangerous for the visitors but the Parkway defence held firm. On 20 minutes a Parkway break was illegally halted by Aidan Chainey who received the game’s first yellow card.
Parkway continued to work hard through the midfield area and on 26 minutes Allen cut in from the left but fired well wide. The visitors were forced into an early change on 28 minutes with Matt Hurley replacing Ralph Graham who had picked up an injury. After Parkway had conceded possession in a congested midfield exchange, the lively Malshankskyj broke clear only to shoot weakly when well placed allowing Moore to make a good save.
With play continuing to be competitive in the deteriorating conditions, Billy Palfrey saw yellow after a sliding challenge on 32 minutes as the visitors began to exert pressure and create problems for the Parkway defence. On 36 minutes Malshanskyj again broke clear and shot from around 15 yards only to be denied by a superb save by Moore who spread himself to block the effort with his legs. Melksham finished the half the stronger and on 42 minutes Moore did well to get down to smother a cross from Albi Hopkins with the final action of the half seeing a cross from the right by Vaughan Covil being turned behind for a corner by Harrison Davis. Despite the atrocious conditions, an entertaining half with both sides doing their best to move the ball around at pace but with few clear chances being created by either side and both goalkeepers making crucial saves.
With the rain continuing to fall, Melksham started the second half the sharper and on 47 minutes a speculative effort from distance by Ballinger went narrowly wide with Moore off his line. Parkway made their first change on 54 minutes with the hard working Shirley being replaced by Williams whose introduction almost made an immediate impact. His first touch released Ryan Lane along the left whose cross to the near post was met by a sliding Williams whose touch from close range went narrowly wide. On 57 minutes a long ball saw Crago do well to hold off a couple of challenges and go clear only to be denied by some brave goalkeeping by Hall who just beat Crago to the loose ball with Crago seeing yellow for his committed effort to regain the ball. Both sides then made further changes with Craske replacing Davis on 63 minutes followed by Sam Hendy replacing the busy Chainey for the visitors on 66 minutes.
Parkway then had a period in the ascendency and almost took the lead on 67 minutes. A surging run from deep in his own half by Lane saw him power forward with his shot from around 20 yards heading for the top corner with Hall superbly tipping the ball behind for a corner. With Melksham now looking to play more on the counter attack, the impressive Malshanskyj continued to look their most threatening player and proving a constant handful for the Parkway defence. However the defence remained solid with Callum Rose making a superbly timed covering block tackle on Malshanskyj on 68 minutes with Moore saving well from Hopkins shortly after. Parkway made their final change on 70 minutes with Shane Krac replacing Allen.
On 71 minutes more brave goalkeeping by Hall blocked a close range Crago shot as Parkway continued to threaten but were unable make the breakthrough. On 75 minutes a Krac free kick to the far post was well defended with both sides continuing to look to create openings and game still being played at a lively pace despite the steadily worsening conditions. With neither side seemingly content to hold on for a draw, Melksham won a free kick centrally around 25 yards out with Ballinger’s effort being superbly tipped behind by Moore. With full time approaching and both sides still looking for a winner, the game continued to be highly competitive and being played in a relatively good spirit. However a series of yellow cards in the last 10 minutes broke up play with Krac and Moore along with the visitor’s Ryan Morgan and Covil all receiving bookings. On 87 minutes a long range effort from Ballinger flew just over with Ballinger being replaced by Sayeed Ibrahim for the final few minutes with neither side able to find a late winner.
With the very difficult underfoot conditions, both sides did remarkably well to produce a reasonably entertaining game which understandably lacked a lot of quality and was at times scrappy but not lacking endeavour or desire. Credit to both sides for their fitness levels and looking to play their game in the right way. A particular mention to both goalkeepers who dealt well with the very testing conditions. A draw was a fair result between two evenly matched sides who did their best throughout to overcome the deteriorating surface and cannot be faulted for their effort.
The result sees Parkway remain in 8th place and keep in touch with those above them, some of whom dropped points today. They included league leaders Cirencester Town who went down 3-2 at 14th placed Slimbridge proving once again that on the day anyone can still beat anyone.
Parkway are due to entertain 13th placed Evesham United at Bolitho Park next Saturday and with all their postponed matches now having been rescheduled, March is looking a particularly busy month with 8 fixtures planned, 5 at home and 3 away.
Parkway: 1 Moore, 2 Davis (Craske 63), 3 Lane, 4 Palfrey, 5 Rose, 6 Landricombe ©, 7 Rogers, 8 Allen (Krac 70), 9 Shirley (Williams 54), 10 Andrew, 11 Crago.
Substitutes: 12 Krac, 14 Williams, 15 Bentley (unused) 16 Craske, 20 Carter (unused)
Melksham: 1 Hall, 2 Webb, 3 Morgan, 4 Thompson, 5 Parsons, 6 Chainey (Hendy), 7 Graham (Hurley 28), 8 Covil, 9 Malshanskyj, 10 Ballinger ©, (Ibrahim 88), 11 Hopkins
Substitutes: 12 Hendy, 14 Ibrahim, 15 Hurley, 16 Christopher (unused), 17 Fey (unused)