It was from the penalty spot that Bala took the lead in normal time, having already seen a goal ruled out for offside. Danny Walker-Rice went down under a challenge and earned the spot kick, and ex-Welsh International Dave Edwards stepped up and confidently placed his penalty past Ryan Woods.
Prior to that, both teams had already gone close to scoring. On 16 minutes, a good cross by Telor Williams found Alex Jones at the far post, but his header could only find the arms of Bala keeper Alex Ramsay. A couple of minutes later, it was Will Evans’ turn to send it a dangerous cross for the Lakesiders, and Sam Hart miskicked his clearance, but fortunately it went out for a corner rather than anything more serious.
After falling behind, Flint almost hit back instantly. Callum Bratley embarked on a run from the halfway line and surged into the box, slipping the ball into the path of Jack Kenny, whose effort clipped the top of the Bala bar.
On the half hour mark, Evans demonstrated good movement, and got in behind the Flint defence to meet a free kick, but Woods got down well to save. Then, at the other end, Ben Nash got on the end of a Flint free kick, but six yards out, didn’t connect properly and Ramsay safely gathered.
Woods had to depart the action after 38 minutes when we injured his shoulder in a collision with a Bala player as he came off his line to punch clear.
The Silkmen knew they had to up their game somewhat in the second period, as the front two of Kenny and Horwood were too often isolated, with big gaps between them and the support players. On 48 minutes they went close, when a Horwood delivery was headed against the bar by Nash.
Danny Harrison was introduced into the action on 57 minutes to make his Flint debut. A minute later, Bratley struck a fierce shot from the edge of the box, but his shot was parried by Ramsay.
Michael Wilde was then brought on to make his debut, and made his presence felt almost immediately by winning a free kick in a good position. Ben Maher stepped up and placed his effort around the wall, but it went agonisingly the wrong side of the post.
With Harrison and Wilde starting to pull the strings, Flint were now looking more dangerous. The deserved equaliser arrived on 84 minutes, when from another Ben Maher free kick, Nash rose highest and planted his header back across goal and into the far corner of the net.
Alex Jones spurned a great chance for the home side a couple of minutes later when he blazed his effort over from 8 yards out.
Then, at the other end, Jon Rushton pulled off a fine point blank save to deny Chris Sang, and the game headed to the drama of a penalty shoot out.
Alex Ramsay emerged as the hero, as he stopped three kicks form Kai Edwards, Sam Hart and Ben Maher, although the quality of the penalties left a lot to be desired.
However, there were lots of positives to take out of a game where we pushed last season’s third placed team all the way, and the early signs are encouraging that we will be a much tougher proposition for sides this time around.