After six successive league defeats to the Lakesiders since their return to the Cymru Premier, Flint celebrated their first game on their new 3G pitch by gaining a point against their bogey side, although they left it late to do so.
Larnell Cole was the Silkmen’s hero, cutting in from the left to the edge of the box before firing a shot through a crowd of bodies, that seemed to deceive keeper Alex Ramsey as it passed under his body and into the net.
In truth, it was a bit of a steal by the home side, as Bala had, up to that point, dominated possession and had created by far the best chances, but it did demonstrate the resilience and self belief that Lee Fowler is successfully developing into his side.
The game started following an impeccably observed period of silence as a mark of respect for the recently departed Queen, and the opening passage of play contained little incident, as a well drilled Flint defence comfortably held their own. The Silkmen were missing a focal point and an outlet up front, though, and so were struggling to gain any inroads, although Ben Hughes was impressing in the middle and was doing his best to set up some attacking moves for his side.
A quick free kick routine down the right almost paid dividends on 20 minutes, as Jayden Major received possession and ran infield before curling a shot that was destined for the bottom corner before Ramsey got down and pushed it around the foot of his post.
Bala then created a good chance of their own, as George Newell received the ball with his back to goal, before smartly turning and hitting a shot that flew just wide of the post.
Just before the break, a long ball almost caught Flint out, as it was helped into the path of Ollie Shannon, who took it in his stride and advanced on goal from wide on the left. He blasted his shot the wrong side of the upright.
Flint retreated further into their shell at the commencement of the second half, and became even more of a sporadic force in attack, with the full backs seemingly reluctant to advance into the opposition half and take advantage of the space that was afforded to them. Consequently, Bala grew in confidence, and the signs began to look ominous, with Kieran Smith beginning to orchestrate things in midfield for the visitors.
Lassana Mendes was also looking a threat whenever he received the ball, and was willing to run at the Flint defence. He found Smith with a cut back, and the resulting shot from the edge of the area flew over the bar.
The game’s opening goal arrived on 65 minutes. A free kick to Bala was hoisted into the box, and Brandon Diau, not for the first time in the game, initially repelled the danger, but the ball broke to Shannon, who sized up a shot. As he let fly, Harry Owen epitomised the work rate of the Flint defence, as he came rushing in to block the effort. The ball struck his arm from close range and the referee awarded a spot kick. Bala captain Chris Venables, who was a somewhat surprising name in the starting line up, but had obviously successfully appealed against his straight red card issued in his side’s previous game, stepped up to dispatch the penalty into the corner of the net.
Shortly after, Owen redeemed himself, when he was on hand to clear a Nathan Peate header off the line, following a Mendes corner, as Bala looked to turn the screw.
Venables then a header from six yards out that Harry Allen looked to get a fingertip on to divert it over the bar. Tyler Garratt also got back to block a Venables shot from close range, following a free kick delivery into the box, before Allen scooped up the loose ball, as Bala continued to press.
An inspired substitution brought Cole into the fray, and he belatedly provided some forward momentum that the Silkmen has been lacking. A wayward clearance from the Bala defence in the 89th minute found him on the left, allowing him to cut in and do his magic to bring his side back on terms.
Having gained the late equaliser, Flint sensed they might be able to go on and snatch an unlikely win, and piled forward in the closing minutes, putting the Bala defence under some concerted pressure for the first time in the match. In doing so, though, they were susceptible to a break away, and Jay Owen had to resort to unceremoniously bringing down an opponent, when one attack looked as though it was about to develop, and preserve a hard earned point for the home side.
Report by Nigel Sheen
Line Ups :
Flint Town United – H. Allen, J. Carroll, B. Beaumont, B. Diau, H. Owen, D. Harrison (L. Cole 86), T. Garratt, J. Owen (c), J-L Akpa-Akpro, B. Hughes (J. Hindle 61), J. Major (H. Brindley-Peagram 79). Unused Subs – D. Szczepaniak (GK), O. Ibrahim, L. Ellis, M. Roberts
Bala Town – A. Ramsay, R. white, N. Arsan, N. Peate, A. Kay, K. Smith, D. Edwards, G. Newell (P. Rutherford 61), C. Venables (c), O. Shannon, L. Mendes. Unused Subs – L. Wall, J. Davies, O. Southern, A. Roscrow, T. Griffiths, D. Jones
Flint MOM – Brandon Diau (a towering defensive display by Diau who is rapidly becoming a cult hero amongst the Flint fans)