Parkwood Rangers vs Crayford Arrows
By Harry Scott
After a fast start and some relentless early Parkwood pressure, the Crayford defence eventually opened the door, and Parkwood got one foot through it
After several corners from the right flank and despite the original set piece being cleared by Crayford Arrows, the ball then fell back out to Tom Malyon’s left peg. He delivered a whipped, first-time cross, on his so-called weaker foot, that even Mesut Ozil would have been proud of. The cross somehow evaded all bodies from both sides, until it was selflessly left to trickle into the bottom corner by Tom’s older brother, Ben. 1-0 to Parkwood, and it was exactly what their early pressure had deserved. The home fans were stunned into silence, with the away fans’ chants ringing around the ground from the raised terrace.
Parkwood were still applying the pressure, with Crayford Arrows barely threatening into the final third, as a ball fell to Ben Malyon just inside his own half. Only one player in the whole ground would have spotted this pass, and luckily for Parkwood, it fell to him. He picked out top scorer Nathan Parke with a delicate, yet penetrating lofted through ball, which left Nathan to turn and sprint onto the ball, before holding off the defenders and slot calmly past the opposition keeper into the bottom right corner, just like he has been doing all season. The striker’s 23rd goal of the season gave the away team some breathing space after the first quarter of the match.
Despite conceding a few minutes prior, Parkwood didn’t let their heads drop, nor did they take their foot off the gas. They continued to apply pressure on the Crayford defence, and after a throw in from the right was headed up into the sky, everyone thought all hope of a chance at goal was lost. Everyone, barring one man. Holding off the defenders with his back to the Crayford goal, Ben Malyon managed to bring the ball down under control, turn, and swivel majestically all in one swift movement, before slotting home with his left foot into the bottom right corner, past the Crayford Arrows keeper’s despairing dive. The constant treatment of the root was finally bearing the fruit, and it was happening on one of, if not the biggest stage of Parkwood Rangers’ 22-year existence.
Just a few minutes before half time, and still Parkwood were on the attack. The next goal was only going to come from the team in blue. Nathan Parke again doing superbly to outmuscle and bully the Crayford defenders, before unleashing a fierce drive goal bound. The only thing that kept the shot out was an unbelievable diving save. It was just unfortunate for Crayford Arrows that this save came from a Centre Back, and not their goalkeeper. The referee pointed to the spot after booking the offender and Tom Malyon grabbed the ball and awaited the referee’s whistle. A chance to all but seal the game in the first half, but could he grab that chance? Of course, he could, netting his second of the game. Stepping up confidently and calmly sending the keeper to the right, as the ball went into the bottom left corner. 4-1 to Parkwood just minutes before the half time whistle was about to sound, and Parkwood Rangers were well on their way to their first ever cup final.