With both sides determined to keep things tight at the back, it always looked as though this would be a game of limited chances, and so it proved, with neither team able to conjure up that moment of individual brilliance or guile to breakdown the other’s defence.
Pontypridd looked a much stronger outfit than the team which capitulated in their last visit to the Essity in January at the end of phase 1, and in an underwhelming first half, they enjoyed the greater possession, and came closest to scoring. That was in the 13th minute, when Eliot Richards tried his luck from range, the shot striking the Flint crossbar. Other than that, there was very little to shout about, with neither keeper called upon to make any noteworthy saves.
Flint were the better side in the second half, but poor distribution in the final third generally put paid to any chances they had of creating clear cut chances to break the deadlock, and their main threat cane from set pieces. In the opening minutes of the second period, the home side forced a couple of corners, to put Ponty’s goal under some sustained pressure for the first time in the game. From one of them, Anthony Stephens delivered a wicked ball under the crossbar, that visiting keeper George Ratcliffe did well to tip over, with Brandon Diau looming over his shoulder ready to tap home if he had misjudged it.
In the 53rd minute, Ponty struck the woodwork for the second time in the game. A cross from the left found Danny Williams, and his arcing backwards header clipped the top of the crossbar, as he was unable to get it on target.
Just after the hour mark, Ben Ahmun was the recipient of another cross into the box from the left, but his header lacked sufficient power, and whilst it was on target, Harry Allen was able to make a fairly routine save.
Flint finished the game strongly, and carved out a few chances, none of which they were able to take.
On 79 minutes, Jean-Louis Akpa-Akpro received the ball in a decent position, and attempted to lob the oncoming Ratcliffe. Although the keeper was unable to fully stop the ball, he did manage to take the sting out of it, and it dropped short of the target, allowing one of his defenders to complete the clearance.
A few minutes later, Flint were awarded a free kick some 22 yards out just to the right of the “D”. Stephens’ shot was just going to creep inside the post, until Ratcliffe dived full length to his left to push the ball away. The ball went into the path of Okera Simmonds, who received it on the byeline, and attempted to drill it back across goal, but Ratcliffe was able to pounce on it as it came back across the face of goal.
The Ponty keeper, though, saved his best save till last. In the final minute, a corner was met flush by Danny Harrison, whose header looked as though it was going to win the game for Flint, but Ratcliffe pulled off a tremendous reaction stop to somehow keep the ball out and preserve his side’s unbeaten run in Phase 2.
Report by Nigel Sheen, Photos by Geoff Quinn (For full album go to https://www.flickr.com/photos/quinnys/albums )
Line Ups :
Flint Town United – H. Allen, B. Beaumont, A. Stephens, B. Diau, H. Owen, D, Harrison, J. Carroll, J. Owen (c), R. Kavanagh (O. Simmonds 58), Z. Clarke, J-L Akpa-Akpro. Unused Subs – D. Szczepaniak (GK), O. Ibrahim, B. Hughes, A. Mudimu, T. Garratt, H. Drazdauskas
Pontypridd United – G. Ratcliffe, L. Cummings, T. Davies, B. Margetson, J. Wright, J. Knott (J. Evans 43), D. Williams (O. Jones 77), C. Green (c), B. Ahmun, K. Lewis, E. Richards. Unused Subs – K. Rees, C. Jenkins, H. Bright, J. Karodogan
Flint MOM – Bobby Beaumont (another consistent display for his side)