As maybe we all feared, Parkgate’s involvement in this season’s Emirates FA Cup came to an end in the Moorlands of Staffordshire as they fell to a 3-0 defeat to Northern Premier League side Leek Town in their First Qualifying Round replay at Harrison Park last night; but as the Steelmen and their supporters contemplated a short but tricky drive home in the teeming rain, they left everyone in no doubt that they had again worked their socks off against opponents two pyramid steps higher, leaving Manager Billy Fox proud and disappointed in equal measure, writes Colin Muncie for the Parkgate FC Website and the Bootiful Game.
As in that fine away win at Brighouse Town in the previous round, Foxy again set his side up with two front men and looked to contain Leek in the hope of grabbing a goal on the break , and as the first half wore on, that was exactly the pattern of the match ; but once talented front man Dan Trickett-Smith had headed the home side in front after 41 minutes-after a string of fine saves from Parkgate ‘keeper Danny Butt- the task looked even more daunting at the interval.
So it proved, as Jordan Johnson punished the loss of possession in midfield with another fine header (54 minutes) and Nial Maguire converted from close range after 72 to clinch an away tie for Leek at runaway National League North league leaders Chorley, despite more great work from Butt, and left Foxy’s battling side reflecting on that late penalty at Green Lane which possibly cost them a lucrative upset win in the first meeting a week ago.
A crowd of 214 watched the game.
Foxy told us “I was very proud of the team last night and as the FA Cup Fact File Twitter feed states, it’s the furthest Parkgate have been in the FA Cup this century. After a difficult trip down there -and it taking nearly three hours- the players acquitted themselves admirably. Let’s not forget one of their players adds up-more or less- to Parkgate’s weekly expense budget, so when his class was required he has the ability to use it”.
Foxy admitted that Leek’s goal on the stroke of the interval was crucial. “A goal just before half time is always going to be a different team talk” he admitted “and the second goal, early in the second half, certainly gave Leek the confidence to spray the ball around when they had done enough “.
A consistent cutting edge has been a weakness in Foxy’s armoury following the calamitous pre-season injury to marquee striker Nathan Joynes, as the Parkgate Manager conceded. “The lads kept going to the end -and if we had a forward that cost more than twenty quid things might have been different.”
Foxy hinted at the wider funding gap afflicting many clubs , not just his own. “The problem the club has ,moving forward, is that ten pound players now cost £60 – so they may have to move in another direction or bring a one person benefactor in”.