BUCKLAND Athletic picked up their first win of pre-season when they beat Plymouth Parkway 2-1 at Homers Heath last night.
The Bucks showed no evidence of a hangover from Saturday’s disappointing 4-1 defeat to Willand as an Owen Stockton penalty and an own goal – either side of a Theo Simpson reply – saw them past the newly-promoted Southern League Premier Division outfit.
It took just 10 minutes for Josh Webber to sting the palms of visiting custodian Kyle Moore when he let one fly on the angle which had to be palmed away.
And four minutes later the home side would be given an even better chance to strike the first blow.
Ryan Bush latched onto his own flick-on and ran in behind before being brought down in the area by Parkway captain Mike Landricombe.
Stockton stepped up and fired the resulting penalty straight down the middle.
Callum Hall curled an effort wide of Tyler Coombes’ goal before the travelling side produced their best move of the match to draw level on 25 minutes.
The ball reached full-back Tyler Ashmead who whipped in a peach of a cross for the rising Simpson to glance into the top corner.
Buckland responded well and saw another half chance come and go when Bush cut in and curled over – before Parkway finished the half on top.
First Coombes had to be alert to get down and smother the ball from a corner, then Callum Rose had two bites at the cherry which were both kept at bay by some last-ditch defending.
That would pay dividends moments into the second half when Buckland restored their slender lead.
A bending Ben Carter free-kick struck the inside of the upright, with the rebound hitting the unfortunate Moore and ending up in the top corner.
Parkway had the better of the possession for much of the second half without managing to carve out much in the way of clear-cut chances.
Jack Crago brought down a cross-field ball well before sending an effort over the bar, and strong appeals for a penalty were waved away with injury time looming after a coming-together between Crago and Frazer Clark.
But thanks to some committed and at times heroic defending from the Buckland, Saturday’s result was put right at the first time of asking – much to the delight of head coach Dan Hart.
‘Make no mistake, they [Parkway] have got so much ability in that squad, which has been formed over a long time and well coached,’ said Hart.
‘Some of the movements and patterns that they were exploring and coming up with during that game were of a very high standard.
‘And it took an awful lot from our boys to handle that, soak it up and deal with it effectively. I’m really pleased. Regardless of opposition, that’s the best performance that we’ve put in.
‘There’s still always plenty to work on but I was pleased – and it is always nice to pick up a win whatever the time of year.’
Hart, along with Buckland skipper Rob Farkins and fellow centre-back Nick Milton Jnr, used to play his football at Bolitho Park before hanging up his boots.
‘It’s not needle, but it’s just there,’ Hart admitted. ‘I used to play at the club, Farks [Rob Farkins] used to play at the club and I’ve got nothing but respect for how they have improved. It’s an incredible set-up with really amazing people.
‘But a pre-season “friendly” doesn’t really exist. These games are primarily about getting fitness, but everybody wants to win and anyone who says that they don’t is a liar.
‘I went away after our defeat to Willand on Saturday really hurting, so it’s pleasing to see a reaction whether it’s in July or December.’
One player who really caught the eye was 18-year-old midfielder Sam Stayt, who despite his young age isn’t afraid to get stuck in .
‘I like Sammy because he’s streetwise and he takes information on,’ Hart added. ‘I think that’s what sets him apart, potentially, from some of the other players he would have been around in the Torquay youth set-up.
‘He really showed tonight that he can go up against athletes and good players and match them.
‘I like a young player who can take on information and I think Sammy is going to be a really good member of our squad moving forward.’
Friday’s pre-season friendly away at St Blazey has been cancelled, meaning the Bucks will next be in action at Dartmouth on Tuesday night (7.30pm).
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