Parkwood Rangers Vs Johnson Philips
By Harry Scott
Parkwood went into their first cup final in the club’s history v Division 2’s Johnson & Phillips. The game was to be played on the 3G pitch at Sevenoaks Town FC.
2 weeks have now settled since the game kicked off under lights. Parkwood had a near full strength squad to pick from, so whittling down to just 16 boys was always going to be tough for the management team, but they managed to, and they all boarded the coach from Bexley station with a few supporters to make the trip down to Sevenoaks Town. Or so they thought…
Not one to ever be late, winger Chris Grizzle had decided to somehow see the letters ‘H-E-A-T-H’ after being sent the instructions to meet at Bexley station. The team grew as restless as the driver, as departure was set back 30 minutes. Finally arriving at Sevenoaks Town, Parkwood’s preparation time had been cut almost in half. They didn’t let this faze them and continued to go about their warmups and rituals as per normal. A joy to see Ryan Firth’s strange superstition of kissing every stud on each of his boots twice had made it all the way down the A20 to Sevenoaks Town with us.
Parkwood made a fast start to the game, with Nathan Parke dispossessing the opposition’s left back, and Ben Malyon picked up the loose ball to lay in Chris Grizzle. Chris was on time for once with his arrival but unfortunately screwed the ball just wide after just 30 seconds of the match. The crowd grew excited, and this allowed Parkwood to maintain pressure on the J&P goal. Parkwood had been such a threat from set pieces since the arrival of coach Harry Kent, and with Tom Malyon’s exquisite delivery from the right, the ball was headed back into the danger area, where Chris Grizzle again was waiting to pounce. And pounce he did. Lashing the ball home into the bottom corner via a deflection through a crowd of bodies. The fans around the ground were almost as ecstatic as the boys, and Parkwood led after just a few minutes.
Parkwood hunted the ball down in packs, right from the kickoff. Continuously forcing J&P back towards their own goal time and time again, as the J&P keeper could only clear his lines to the middle of the park. A shame for the keeper as it was Tom Malyon he found. Again, a perfectly weighted pass set Nathan Parke away down the right wing, as Parkwood’s midfield raced to get into the box. Nathan took on two players before selflessly laying the ball back to a Parkwood shirt just 7 yards out. And there to meet it, somewhat surprisingly, was manager’s son Harry Scott. It was a Lampardesque run that enabled him to pummel the ball home with his left foot and send his onlooking father into a state of shock and utter euphoria. Harry, not used to scoring, ran past about 5 players before coming to a halt when met with Tom Malyon’s embrace. Parkwood were 2-0 up after only 11 minutes, and the Parkwood Ultras barely had time to take a few sips on their amber nectar.
The game ebbed and flowed with either side not creating too much in the way of clear chances, and the game seemed to die down a little after the ferocious start. But on the 23-minute mark, it was game on. J&P lofted a free kick into the box, before the flick on was met by their central midfielder’s head and nestled into Jacob quieros’ bottom corner, after he appeared to get his feet caught in treacle trying to move over and save the ball. A quarter of the game gone, and it was 2-1 now. J&P were well and truly back in the game, and if anyone looked like scoring the 4th, it looked like them doing so and levelling the match before the half time whistle was to blow.
What Parkwood needed was someone to steady the ship. Someone to grab the bull by the horns and sweep them back into a 2-goal advantage. This was a moment for a club legend to step up. And step up he did. 43 mins in and a well worked long throw from James Hirsch, was flicked on by captain Nathan Cross into what seemed like a static J&P box. The swift movement of Ben Malyon caught the J&P defence completely unaware, and he sent the ball back into the bottom corner of the net from about 8 yards out. Parkwood had restored their 2-goal lead before half time, and if they were to hold out, surely the murmurings of a stand in Ben Malyon’s name were to come to fruition now. Surely?
After surviving a scare 20 seconds into the half, Parkwood picked up their game and continued to threaten from set pieces. Again, Tom Malyon drilled in a perfectly floated corner from the right, and after seemingly all others had missed it, Jordan Davids prodded the ball home from 2 yards, and Parkwood were 4-1 up after 55 minutes. With this, a few changes were made to freshen the side up and to keep the pressure on J&P, who looked to be tiring and running out of ideas to get back into the game.
After his 2 goals in his season debut the week before, Harry O’Brien continued to be a threat after his half time introduction, playing down the left flank. He threatened in behind on numerous occasions and stung the palms of the J&P keeper more than once. It was then that from another Parkwood set piece, the ball fell the Ben Malyon on the edge of the box, who kept the move alive by splitting open the J&P defence (Kentish Football’s words, not mine) and picked out Harry O’Brien at the far post. His first shot was well saved, but he gobbled up the rebound, and smashed Parkwood into 5-1 lead, with just under 20 minutes remaining of the tie. Surely Parkwood would hang on now?
A few half chances from J&P led to some decent saves by Jacob quieros, who now down the other end, had got his feet out of the treacle. Tipping one shot onto the crossbar and catching several others. Some resolute defending also made sure that J&P couldn’t add to their solitary goal and gain another foothold back in the game. They pushed forward so much that even Ryan Firth was set free to race through on goal to make it 6-1 and really put the game beyond any doubt. Tom Collins with some great footwork before releasing Ryan, who had the goal at his mercy. He made it to the edge of the box with just the keeper to beat, it looked like he just had to chip the keeper, or slot it in the bottom right corner. But Ryan is a strange fellow, as we discovered with the stud kissing earlier, and he doesn’t do what every other human would. So, he decided to scuff the ball to the left and so very nearly out for a throw in. ‘Time wasting’ he said as he turned and shouted at the bench with a sheepish look on his face. But it wasn’t to matter, in truth the game was won early in the second half, the 4th Parkwood goal from Jordan Davids, really deflated J&P, and Parkwood were finally about to get their hands on some silverware.
The presentation was about to begin on pitch, as we were finally able to let security allow currently injured club captain, Max Pickering, onto the field, to hold aloft the Barry Bundock Challenge Shield aloft with Nathan Cross. Good job, as it was a big old shield. Chants from the Parkwood faithful rang out across the Sevenoaks night sky, as a tear fell from the emotional Doug Scott’s right eye. The soon-to-be announced Manager of the Month had drowned out all the media noise that surrounded his job back in November and had guided Parkwood to their first piece of silverware, and second place in the league. Parkwood were finally promoted and already looking forward to the end of season piss-up that we are still eagerly awaiting details for…