With Doug’s rousing team talk sent via a WhatsApp voice note still ringing in the team’s ears, the game kicked off with an incredible 27 in attendance. After a cagey start from both sides, Parkwood were maintaining their patience, and after spending the last couple of week’s training sessions building play from the back, Parkwood were doing just that. An overhit through ball from the Danson defence bypassed the entire midfield of both teams and looked to be trickling back Jacob Queiros in the Parkwood goal. As stated, this instance was reminiscent of previous training sessions for Parkwood, and the entire team were expecting this to be the start of an attack. However, despite being at 3 training sessions all season and with the blackmail of the manager still ongoing, Michael Maietta was starting the match, but clearly hadn’t read the script. Facing his own goal he played a nonchalant back pass to the Parkwood keeper. What a shame for everyone involved with this great club that Jacob had moved about 10 seconds earlier and Michael hadn’t lifted his head. Michael’s pass turned out to be a brilliant ball for the alert Danson player who snapped up the opportunity to give the away side an early lead, and place the ball into the empty net. Thanks for that Mr Maietta.
There was little to shout about for the rest of the first half, with neither side really managing to carve out any clear cut chances, and the first half ended with the score at 1-0 to the away side.
No changes at half time for the home side, and after the best half time team talk we’ve had all season (funny how that happens the same day the manager isn’t there), we were pumped up and ready to start the second half. Danson kicked off and played the ball backwards, through midfield and then back to the defence. Nathan Parke led the press and fortunately for us, one of the Danson centre halves had been spending too much time with Michael Maietta, and decided to freeze on the edge of his own box. Nathan dispossessed him with ease, unsettling the defender who was on his way down to take a seat on the floor as Nathan Parke coolly composed himself, before giving the Danson keeper the eyes and slotting the ball into the bottom left corner, just 15 seconds into the second half.
As the second half continued, only one team was in the ascendency, and it looked like only a matter of time before Parkwood would find the back of the Danson net again. A couple of changes to freshen things up and after some relentless pressure and a few decent half chances, Parkwood got a free kick on the right hand side of the pitch, about 30 yards out from goal. There were only 15 minutes or so left in the match and Tom Malyon placed the ball down, before everyone took their assigned positions from the free kick. The ball was whipped in behind the defence perfectly and there to meet it with his big ol’ head was Nathan Cross. A perfect header off of a perfect cross to send the Parkwood Ultras into pandemonium. Nathan decided to run about 50 yards before finally stopping to celebrate, and speaking from first-hand experience, I know a few of the boys with tired legs were grateful he stopped when he did. Just 15 minutes to hang on to a precious 3 points in the push for promotion and the title race.
But being Parkwood, we didn’t want to do the simple thing and see out the game with a gritty 2-1 win. No, we decided to give Danson the chance of a long throw into the box in the 80th minute. And with an incredible sense of irony, after being told all game that Parkwood were a long ball team, Danson launched the ball into the box and somehow it was scrambled home from less than 3 yards by one of their attackers. Such a wonderfully worked goal for a team who were against a few long passes all game. It’s a funny old game.
It was a Desmond, but a draw didn’t really help either team…
Parkwood again picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and drove forward once more straight from the kick off. There were attacks down the left flank, then down the right, then back on the left. Danson were hanging on. Corner after corner, Danson were retreating deeper into their own box with each passing minute. 5 minutes for them to hang on to a point. 5 minutes for Parkwood to claw themselves back into contention for the title. Another corner from the right hand side, another Tom Malyon delivery. Cutting across the ball ever so delicately with that majestic right foot of his, that it swerved back in towards the Danson goal. The ball was landing dead centre about 5 yards out. It was too late for the keeper to come and claim it. Only one man was getting his head to it, and in a sequel to the Parkwood 2nd goal, Nathan Cross again met the ball and diverted it goalward. The Danson keeper did well to get a hand to it, but there was too much power on the ball, and it was pushed into the roof of the net. Nathan’s 2nd of the game in the 85th minute again sent the Parkwood Ultras wild. Michael Hibbert threw his flat cap in the air in jubilation. A tear in the eye of coach Harry Kent as he had seen his persistence with the set pieces pay dividends. Dave Pickering could barely contain himself and planted a kiss on the Roberto, club chairman’s, nose. Again, Nathan decided to run half the length of the pitch and celebrate off the pitch. The whole team in euphoria. Parkwood had grabbed a 3rd to go 3-2 up against Danson Sports, and just needed to hang on for the final 5 minutes. Goalscoring exploits clearly too much for Nathan to handle, he sat down in the Danson half so that the game couldn’t continue. Was he really injured or was this just superb shithousery of the highest order? My guess is the latter, and I for one applaud it. Tom Goodyear came on to the field to replace the injured man, and a nervy final few minutes followed. Despite the need for a goal, Danson again never really threatened, barring a very weak appeal for a penalty, where even the guy ‘fouled’ said it wasn’t one. Crucially, the ref agreed, or Tom Malyon’s 4th career attempted tackle could have spelled danger for Parkwood. It wasn’t to be for Danson and as the final whistle blew. Cheers erupted from the Parkwood end that could be heard all the way over at Tudor’s ground. Parkwood were coming for them, and could smell promotion.
By Ben Malyon