In a season which has seen Flint benefit from so many late goals to either win games or secure a point, it was a cruel twist of fate that saw Caernarfon win the JD Cymru Premier Play Off final with a goal in the final minute of extra time, to secure a place in next season’s Scottish Challenge Cup competition.
At the end of normal time, the sides were deadlocked at 0-0, with Flint having struck the woodwork twice and Jon Rushon needing to pull off some good saves to deny Caernarfon.
But the game really burst into life into extra time, when the home side took the lead through Dan Gosset before Ben Nash popped up to reply for the Silkmen. A penalty shootout seemed the only way that was going to separate the two teams until Laurie Bell’s last gasp header snatched it for the Cofis.
Flint welcomed back their talisman Michael Wilde for this game, and he went close on 2 minutes, following good work by Sam Hart who chased down his opposing full back, won the ball and set up Wilde, whose effort from an acute angle was just about blocked and bundled out for a corner. Caernarfon hit back with a free header at the far post, but a last ditch challenge by Jake Phillips was just about sufficient to force the effort wide of the mark. The Cofis continued to press and on 20 minutes their captain Dion Donohue sent in a dangerous cross from the left that Mike Hayes was inches away from connecting with. Then, on 26 minutes, Rushton pulled off a tremendous save to deny Hayes, who hit a shot on the turn after Kai Edwards had failed to clear a cross.
Flint’s best chance of scoring increasing looked like it would come from a set piece or courtesy of one of Phillips’ long throws, as has so often proved the case this season. However, it was disappointing that despite forcing a number of corners, not once did they try varying it to an inswinger, which might have provided dividends. Meanwhile, Wilde was winning plenty of balls in his aerial duels, but was lacking close support to feed off his knock downs.
Caernarfon had a shout for a penalty as a shot struck the arm of Edwards, although it was from fairly close range.
At the start of the second half, a Flint coner caused problems for the Caernarfon defence, but Jacob Ojrzynski just managed to spring onto it and collect it at the foot of his post before it could be forced over the line.
Sion Bradley was enjoying a good game for Caernarfon, and he hit a powerful shot that Rushton did well to keep out. Flint had another sight of goal, following good interplay between Callum Bratley and Hart, which resulted in Bratley hitting a shot that brought a save out of Ojrzynski.
On 65 minutes, it looked as though the Silkmen had broken the stalemate, when Edwards hit an overhead effort following a long throw, but the ball struck the post, just evading Nash who was closing in on it.
Both sides went for it at the end of normal time. First, Noah Edwards let fly from 20 yards and Rushton dived to his right to deny him. Then, up the other end, a Hart free kick found Wilde who produced a great header, but it agonisingly struck the post and bounced straight out. The Silkmen also had a late chance from a corner, but a goalbound effort struck a Flint player near to the line and deflected out.
So with neither side able to register, we went into extra time, and the Cofis struck first on 97 minutes. A threaded ball found Gosset, who neatly sidestepped around Edwards before burying his shot low into the corner for a well taken goal.
Flint responded well, and Alex Jones struck an effort from the edge of the box that whistled just wide. But they got themselves back on terms on 103 minutes, following a Phillips delivery into the box. It was headed clear to Bratley on the left side of the box, who played it back in to the waiting Nash who struck a sweet left foot volley into the net.
In the second period of extra time, with some of the Flint players visibly wilting, Donohue thought he had won it for his side when he made a surging run through the middle before hitting a shot that crept into the corner of the net. But the incoming Cai Jones who attempted to get a decisive touch of the ball was in an offside position and the goal was ruled out. Mark Cadwallader was introduced into the action as Flint prepared for spot kicks, but the rug was pulled from beneath their feet when in the very last minute, Mike Hayes lofted a ball into the box, and for once the Flint defence were flat footed as Bell outjumped three covering defenders to head beyond Rushton from 6 yards to claim victory for Caernarfon to the delight of the home crowd.
Report by Nigel Sheen
Line Ups :
Caernarfon Town – J. Ojrzynski, I. Cartwright, L. Bell, G. Williams, N. Edwards, D. Donohue (c), S. Bradley (C. Jones 115), D. Gosset, M. Hayes, J. Faux, R. Hughes (A. Simpson 90). Unused subs – T. French (GK), R. Williams, B. Beaumont-Broadhead, C. Griffith, F. Murtas
Flint Town United – J. Rushton, J. Phillips, S. Hart (J. Higgins 120+1), B. Maher, B. Nash, K. Edwards, D. Harison, A. Jones (c), M. Wilde, C. Harwood, C. Bratley (M. Cadwallader 119). Unused Subs – R. Woods (GK), D. Roberts, R. Weaver, L. Ellis, S. Ward
Flint MOM – Jake Phillips (another composed performance from the wingback)