With the scores tied at 1-1 after Extra Time, Flint held their nerve to come through the penalty shoot out 3-1, with keeper Jon Rushton in inspired form, saving two of the Penybont spot kicks, whilst the Silkmen’s penalty takers netted all of their efforts.
A bright start by the home side, matching the weather conditions on the day, saw them take the lead from a corner after just 6 minutes. Jake Phillips’ delivery just cleared Mark Cadwallader, but coming in behind him was skipper Alex Jones, who stooped to meet the ball and power it into the net with his head.
Shortly after, Penybont’s Liam Walsh sustained a nasty wrist injury, and had to depart the action, being replaced by Ashley Evans.
For the remainder of the half, Bont had the upper hand, but Flint remained composed in defence, and were able to repel the efforts from the visitors, who were seeking to make amends for their Welsh Cup final defeat the previous weekend.
Ryan Reynolds sent over a teasing cross that looked to be heading under the bar, until Rushton tipped it over to avert the danger. He then was called on to palm a header over from a Bont corner, before getting down well to deal with a dangerous Kane Owen free kick later in the half. In front of him, his defensive shield also had to be on their toes to deal with the threat of Nathan Wood and Sam Snaith.
Cadwallader was gifted with a free header from a corner on 49 minutes, but was unable to find the target.
Snaith’s physicality in particular was posing a problem to the Flint defence, and in the 53rd minute, Ben Nash was adjudged to have overstepped the mark, as he manhandled Snaith in the box, and conceded a penalty, although it was one of those, that even though to the letter of the law, it may have been correct, if you give one, you probably give half a dozen during the course of the game. Nathan Wood stepped up and buried his shot right in the corner, giving Rushton no chance.
The Silkmen responded well, and Nash almost made amends when he directed a header on goal, but Ashley Morris was able to dive down and save at the foot of his post.
As the game entered the final quarter, it was the visitors who started to threaten once more, and a goalmouth scramble on 75 minutes had the Flint defence at full stretch, before the ball was finally cleared. Then, Wood raced through on goal, spring ing the offside trap, and Rushton was smartly off his line to dive at the striker’s feet and block his shot.
With the sides deadlocked at the end of regulation time, we entered 30 minutes of additional time. Penybont looked the stronger side during this spell of the match, as Flint offered little in the way of attack.
Bont’s Georgievsky wriggled free inside the box during the first period, before placing a shot across the face of goal. Then Rushton was called upon once more, diving down well to save from Wood, whose shot had come through a crowd of bodies. But it looked as though it might be curtains for the Silkmen in the second period, when they conceded their second penalty of the game. This time there was little argument, as Sam Duffy tripped Kai Whitmore in the box. Up stepped Wood once more. But the Gods were smiling on the Silkmen as his shot crashed against the underside of the bar, bounced out and eventually found the grateful hands of Rushton.
There was still time for a couple more half chances for the visitors, with some long range efforts that went wide, as the Flint goal remained intact.
And so with the sides still deadlocked we were into a penalty shootout to decide who would progress into the play off final.
Penybont went first, and their captain Kane Owen stepped up only to see Rushton pull off a flying save to deny him. Cadwallader converted his kick to put Flint 1-0 up.
Snaith then found the net, although Rushton did manage to get a hand to the shot, but was unable to prevent it from going in. Danny Harrison made it 2-1 to Flint with an assured penalty.
Wood then came up to take his third penalty of the afternoon, and this time ballooned it way over the bar, to send the home spectators into a frenzy. Ben Maher kept his nerve to slot home and make it 3-1, before Ashley Evans walked up knowing he had to score to keep his side in it.
Rushton, though, was inspired, and produced another quality save to keep out the penalty, and send his side into next week’s final, which will be played at Caernarfon.
Report by Nigel Sheen
Line Ups :
Flint Town United – J. Rushton, J. Phillips, S. Hart, B. Maher, B. Nash. K. Edwards, D. Roberts (S. Duffy 71), A. Jones (c), D. Harrison, M. Cadwallader, C. Bratley. Unused Subs – R. Woods (GK), R. Weaver, O. Nugent, J. Davis, L. Ellis, H. Brindley-Peagram
Penybont – A. Morris, L. Walsh (A. Evans 13), K. Owen, S. MacDonald, D. Jeffries, R. Reynolds, K. Georgievsky (R. Stevens 112), T. Tweedy (B. Ahmun 63), S. Snaith, N. Wood, K. Whitmore. Unused Subs – T. Williams (GK), J. Carson, R. Griffiths
Flint MOM – Jon Rushton (hero of the penalty shootout but also kept his side in the game during regulation and extra time)