A well taken hat-trick by Zach Clarke gave the Chester loanee the perfect start to his tenure at Flint, as well as securing a precious win for the home side. The Silkmen ran out comfortable winners, having bossed the game for most of its duration, and the front three of Clarke, Jean-Louis Akpa-Akpro and Okera Simmonds all combined well to give the Pontypridd defence a thoroughly uncomfortable afternoon.
Clarke served notice of his ambitions on 11 minutes when he received the ball from Simmonds, who had done well to wriggle through a challenge, and shot just wide of the upright from outside of the area.
The home side continued to press, looking confident in possession, and made the breakthrough in the 28th minute. A throw in on the left, deep inside the Pontypridd half was played back to Jordan Carroll who was in lots of space, rather than being thrown long into the box. He then had time to flight a nice ball into the area, which Akpa-Akpro went up to challenge for, and when it fell into the path of Clarke, the youngster stroked it over the line to give his side the lead.
Flint then capitalised on their advantage and scored a second within the space of four minutes. Brandon Diau picked out Akpa-Akpro on the left side with a nice long ball. The forward showed a great first touch to knock the ball into space and around his marker, running onto it and then bearing down on the goal from left side, before poking it past Ponty keeper Ashley Morris into the net.
The home side looked to continue from where they had left off at the start of the second half, and Simmonds displayed some good footwork on 47 minutes to get to the bye-line before whipping in a low cross that Clarke almost managed to back flick into the net, but the effort was just kept out.
The third goal arrived on 58 minutes, following a free kick taken on the half-way line. Anthony Stephens delivered the ball into the box, and Harry Owen ran onto it, before turning back and laying it into the path of Clarke, who coolly finished from around 14 yards.
Five minutes later, it was 4-0 when Clarke raced onto a long ball lofted forward by Akpa-Akpro. He outpaced the defence and kept his composure superbly to slot it past Morris and claim his hat-trick.
Perhaps understandably, Flint eased off in the final 20 minutes, and this was Ponty’s best spell of the game, when they did manage to create some chances in the opposition box. With ten minutes remaining, they grabbed their consolation goal. An initial shot was blocked, but the ball ran to Joe Evans some 20 yards out, who stroked a nice shot along the floor into the corner of the Flint net. A couple of minutes later, a goal-line clearance by Carroll prevented Ponty skipper Clayton Green reducing the deficit further. Following that mini-scare, Flint regrouped and saw the game out without any further incident, to claim an impressive win that will set Lee Fowler’s side up nicely for Phase 2.
Report by Nigel Sheen Photos by Geoff Quinn For full album copy and paste the following link – https://www.flickr.com/photos/quinnys/albums
Line Ups :
Flint Town United – H. Allen, J. Carroll, B. Diau, A. Stephens, H. Owen, D. Harrison, B. Beaumont, J. Owen (c) (B. Hughes 74), J-L Akpa-Akpro, Z. Clarke (H. Brindley-Peagram 79), O. Simmonds (R. Kavanagh 58) Unused Subs – N. Collings (GK), O. Ibrahim, M. Roberts
Pontypridd United – A. Morris, C. Jenkins (J. Karodogan 69), J. Wright, K. Rees (O. Jones 56), D. Vincent (J. Evans 69), J. Knott, D. Williams, C. Green (c), B. Ahmun, K. Lewis, J. Hunt. Unused Subs – H. Irving (GK), J. Saddler, J. Bloom
Flint MOM – Zach Clarke (a dream debut from the youngster who displayed great maturity and composure)