Shirley seals debut with a goal as Parkway pick up all three points
Words By Graham Lloyd
Images by Tom Finnie
Parkway entertained 2nd placed AFC Totton looking to build on recent improved performances. The visitors won the reverse encounter on the first day of the season 1-0 courtesy of a first half penalty. Two changes were made from last Tuesday’s narrow 1-0 defeat at league leaders Frome Town. Jamie Lowry came in for Matt Andrew in midfield with Mikey Williams dropping into central defence replacing Callum Rose and Rhys Shirley, signed yesterday on a one month work experience loan from Plymouth Argyle, making his debut up front.
The game started at a high tempo with an early Callum Hall shot being deflected behind for a corner in the 1st minute with Totton breaking from the corner forcing Kyle Moore to rush from his goal and hack clear. On 5 minutes Jack Crago broke clear and fired over as the game gradually settled down to a less frenetic pace. Parkway began to dominate possession and look to play from the back with Lowry having plenty of the ball and dictating play with his range and quality of passing from deep. Totton looked to contain in midfield and play on the break with the pacey Kasimu looking the main threat.
On 16 minutes Lowry fired over from distance after linking well with Ryan Lane as Parkway continued to move the ball at pace as they probed an opening but failed to penetrate a solid Totton backline. On 18 minutes a raking ball to the left by the influential Lowry saw Crago win a header which dropped to Shirley who hooked his shot over on the turn from around 15 yards. Play continued at a lively pace with neither side creating too much but with Parkway having the better quality possession and looking the more likely to break the deadlock.
Totton continued to defend well and compete strongly in midfield but lacked the cutting edge to penetrate the Parkway defence well marshalled by the imposing Michael Landricombe. Williams frequently made strong, mazy runs from the heart of the defence supporting the midfield and wide players. On 34 minutes a Parkway corner was cleared with Totton breaking clear and Jordan Ngalo being bundled over around 25 yards out with Jack Hoey’s free kick flying narrowly wide for arguably the visitor’s first effort of the game. On 38 minutes a sweeping Parkway move with Rio Garside, Crago and Lane all prominent ended with Lane weaving inside and shooting from around 15 yards forcing Amadeus Skrzyniarz into a fine save. On 41 minutes the visitors Jack Masterton was booked for a nasty challenge on Williams with the resultant free kick from wide on the left finding a Parkway head and being tipped over by the keeper.
From the subsequent corner Totton cleared to the speedy Kasimu who broke clear just inside his own half with his run being tracked stride for stride by the equally speedy Hall who halted the run with a perfectly timed challenge just inside the 6 yard box. From the resultant corner Stephane Zubar rose unchallenged and headed just over. On 45 minutes a swift Parkway break along the right saw the ball reach Crago who won a corner from which the ball was forced home inside a congested 6 yard box with the effort being ruled out for a foul on the keeper. A tight, tense half of few chances with Parkway dominating possession but unable to make their dominance pay but dealing comfortably with the occasional Totton counter attacks. The second half started in explosive fashion with Parkway taking the lead on 47 minutes. The persistent Crago won a corner on the left from which his rising near post header was diverted past the keeper with Shirley getting the final touch from close range.
On 50 minutes Parkway could have doubled their lead from the penalty spot after a quick move along the left saw the elusive Crago brought down only for Garside to fire the spot kick narrowly over the bar. On 52 minutes Garside almost redeemed himself when, after a neat exchange between Shirley and Crago, his angled drive was well held by the keeper. Hall then saw an effort go just wide as Parkway continued to threaten. A minor scuffle in the centre circle ensued on 56 minutes and once sanity had been restored, the visitor’s Taylor was shown a yellow card. On 57 minutes a strong run forward by the hard working Billy Palfrey picked out Crago who linked well with Shirley whose effort was blocked. Around the hour mark Matt Andrew replaced the industrious Hall with Jordan Ragguette replacing Taylor for the visitors. Parkway continued to display a good work rate from front to back and on 67 minutes smart work along the right by Garside found Shirley who headed just wide. On 70 minutes the lively Shirley, showing good energy in working across the line, saw his angled drive palmed away by the keeper with Lane’s strike from the rebound skimming the outside of the post. Read then replaced Masterton for the visitors who rarely threatened and could not break down the solid Parkway defence with Finlay Craske looking particularly assured and composed with Williams continuing to move smoothly out of defence into the midfield areas.
Totton made their final change on 74 minutes with Brett Williams replacing Hoey with Parkway looking to retain possession and press high when out of possession. Totton pushed forward looking for an equaliser but lacked the cutting edge with Parkway remaining calm and composed at the back with Moore relatively untroubled, dealing confidently with a couple of crosses whilst under pressure. As the game entered stoppage time, Ngalo shot well wide with Parkway remaining on the front foot and holding firm until the final whistle.
A well deserved if unspectacular win in a game of few chances based on graft, grit and intensity and no shortage of quality play in which everyone did their jobs with the added bonus of another clean sheet. Totton competed well throughout but were unable to create many clear chances due to Parkway’s pressing game and resolute defending. The win sees Parkway climb to 10th place in the league with games in hand over most of the teams above. Their busy schedule continues with a rearranged visit on Tuesday to 17th placed Cinderford Town who lost 3-0 at Paulton Rovers today. Parkway return to Bolitho Park next Saturday for the eagerly awaited FA Trophy 2nd round tie with National League South (step 2) side Hampton and Richmond Borough who won 1-0 at bottom placed Billericay Town today. This tie will be against the highest placed team in the pyramid that Parkway have ever faced in the clubs short history.
1 Moore, 2 Craske, 3 Lane, 4 Lowry, 5 M. Williams, 6 Landricombe ©, 7 Garside, 8 Palfrey, 9 Shirley, 10 Hall (Andrew 69), 11 Crago.
Substitutes: 12 Bath (unused), 20 Carter (unused), 14 Rose (unused), 15 Allen (unused), 16 Andrew, 17 Davis (unused).
1 Skrzyniarz, 2 Baughan, 3 Jefford, 4 Masterton (Read 71)), 5 Olumuyiwa, 6 Zubar ©, 7 Hoey (B. Williams74), 8 Ngalo, 9 Kasimu, 10 Taylor (Ragguette 58), 11 Griffin.
Substitues: 12 Read, 14 Williams, 15 Ragguette, 16 Waterfield (unused).