Parkin delights with a goal of rare quality in Dagenham draw
WHEN the various television channels broadcast Sam Parkin's equaliser in Saturday's 1-1 draw at Dagenham & Redbridge, you can guarantee that the footage will not do justice to Exeter City and their brand of football.
At the time of writing, the goal has not been replayed on television, but you can bet your life that what will be shown is the big striker getting in front of his marker to meet Matt Oakley's delicious first-time cross with a sumptuous header from 15 yards that flies inside Dagenham goalkeeper Chris Lewington's upright.
It will look a good goal, that's for sure. But what preceded it was as good a team move as you will see in League Two this season.
The division is renowned for being a tough league with burly players and plenty of long-ball "hoof" ball. But Exeter have earned a reputation for being the exception to the rule with manager Paul Tisdale insisting his team play out from the back and through midfield.
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To an extent that is what they did in managing their equaliser with ten minutes remaining at Dagenham's tight Victoria Road headquarters.
After a chronically poor first half, City had built up a head of steam since half-time, inspired by Tisdale's double substitution at the break.
Things also seemed to be going against them when they were denied two clear looking penalties within seconds of each other and Dagenham had started running down the clock with substitutions and goal kicks taking an age.
When Pat Baldwin headed Lewington's big kick forward, it turned out to be the first of 14 passages of play that ultimately ended with Parkin's brilliant goal.
The ball moved up the right wing, across midfield and over to left-back where Craig Woodman advanced forward and switched it back to the right. Nearly every player was involved in the move before Baldwin rolled the ball back to Oakley to deliver the perfect ball for a striker of Parkin's calibre.
As Parkin stated afterwards, he has scored plenty of goals like that throughout his career. But whether there were moves of equal quality beforehand, only he will really know.
In all honestly, it was a goal out of character with large chunks of a game played on a long-grassed, slow pitch where moving the ball with speed and accuracy was nigh on impossible.
Dagenham had clearly done their homework on City and pinpointed the right side of their defence as an area of weakness. As expected, Baldwin was asked to fill the void until a more permanent answer is found, but he had a tough afternoon against a winger in Zavon Hines who was a constant menace to Exeter virtually all afternoon.
His speed and trickery was too much to handle at times and ultimately led to Baldwin picking up a booking midway through the first half. You felt that a second was inevitable, but despite knowing he was in for a challenging afternoon, Baldwin stuck to his guns and manfully stood off Zines in the second half. The winger's threat evaporated as the game wore on and Exeter themselves dominated the latter stages of the game.
The irony was that when Dagenham went in front on 20 minutes, it had nothing to do with wing wizardry or classy football. Instead, it came from a long clearance straight down the middle of the pitch. Scot Bennett, by far Exeter's most impressive performer at centre half, tried to hold off Josh Scott as goalkeeper Artur Krysiak raced 30 yards to deal with the ball. Instead, his sliced clearance hit the goalkeeper in his own face and fell at the feet of Scott, who showed great composure to hook the ball into an empty goal.
That led to an onslaught from the home side which Exeter struggled to cope with. But somehow they did as Dagenham let them off the hook by failing to kill the game by spurning some gilt-edged chances, while Exeter defended bravely, Bennett especially.
The introduction of David Wheeler and Jimmy Keohane made a significant difference as it led to Exeter dominating the second half. Parkin appeared to have won his side a penalty when his shirt was almost pulled off his back, but incredibly referee Darren Sheldrake gave a free-kick to the home side. Sheldrake then waved play on when an Alan Gow shot struck the arm of Brian Saah inside the penalty box.
It would have been easy for Exeter to have let those decisions affect them, but to their credit, they stuck to their guns – and their footballing principles. Ultimately, they reaped the rewards through Parkin, who seemed to enjoy celebrating in front of more than 400 travelling Exeter fans just as much as the goal itself.
From then, either side could have won it. Bennett denied Hines when he again ran at the City defence, while the impressive Keohane shot over the bar with his left foot from 15 yards with Exeter's best chance of the closing stages.