Second Half Fightback Not Enough as Buckland Exit FA Cup
A dismal first half, branded a shambles by the club, left Buckland Athletic with far too much to do in Saturday’s FA Cup defeat to Plymouth Parkway. Despite a valiant fightback, the Yellows were edged out 3-2 in Ellis Laight’s first game as the first team manager.
With Buckland looking out of sorts from the off, their passing not gelling nearly well enough, and Mike Smith threatening up front for the dynamic visitors, it was no surprise when Parkway finally broke the deadlock through John Heveran who rose, unmarked, to head home a cross from the left. Prior to the goal, Liam Drew had cleared off the line with the home side’s best chance falling to Gavin Hammon who miscued his shot after finding space in the box. Buckland pressed for an equaliser but soon found themselves two down after a low ball into the box was converted by Smith. Young Charlie Johansen, who shone for Buckland last season, almost reduced the deficit but was thwarted by Den Smith in the Parkway goal. Then bad became worse for the hosts as Liam Head fluffed his lines trying to deal with another long ball, allowing former Argyle apprentice graduate Josh Grant to finish off the resultant cross. As the half-time whistle blew, the club blasted the team’s first half performance as a ‘shambles’ on social media.
Despite a bright start to the second by Parkway, Buckland finally got into their stride and proceeded to assert their superiority, their efforts duly rewarded when Hammon neatly finished past Smith from inside the box. Then came one of those pivotal moments that can alter the destiny of a match, Johansen finding himself presented with an empty net but drilling his shot wide, much to the consternation of the home support. Hope was rekindled in the last ten minutes as Hammon headed home to set up a thrilling finale but when Jared Lewington also missed a sitter in the dying minutes, it was clear that Buckland were going to pay the price for a mixture of sloppy first half defending and sub-clinical finishing in the second period.
Looking on the bright side, an early FA Cup exit does remove one distraction from Buckland’s prime target of Southern League promotion – that campaign begins on Tuesday night at Bridport Town, where they will be looking to do better than their 1-0 defeat at the same stage last season.