A breathless, topsy turvy game which saw Flint twice take the lead, before being pegged back, and then Caernarfon snatch a late winner meant that the Cofi’s secured their league status whilst the Silkmen will have to travel to Pontypridd knowing they will need to equal or better Aberystwyth’s result if they too are to survive in the top flight.
Rob Hughes, back in the Caernarfon line up for this crucial encounter, broke through the Flint lines on 6 minutes, and Harry Allen managed to tip his shot over the bar, the first of several important saves the Flint keeper was to make over the course of the evening.
The home side took the lead on 16 minutes, when a long throw from Anthony Stephens was headed out into the path of Bobby Beaumont, who was positioned on the edge of the box. He met it sweetly on the volley and smashed his shot past Ryan Woods in the visitors’ goal.
Caernarfon responded almost immediately, when good work by Sion Bradley led to an opportunity, which saw a deflected shot wrongfoot Allen, and with the ball spinning towards the goal line, Stephens was on hand to hook it away from under his crossbar, in the nick of time.
Bradley was, in fact, looking to be a constant threat down the left for the visitors, with Flint seemingly unable to stop the ball from being played into him. Beaumont was booked for his effort in trying to halt the winger, and thereafter had to be careful in his attempts to stop him. On the half hour mark, Bradley once again broke down the left, before delivering a nice ball into the path of Hughes who was shaping to shoot when Stephens came across to challenge him. Hughes tumbled over Stephens’ leg, accompanied by a theatrical yell, and the referee duly awarded a penalty. Dion Donohue confidently converted the spot kick to put his side back on terms.
Shortly after, Beaumont was replaced by Tyler Garratt as Flint reshuffled their defensive line up to try and counter the danger.
The home side retook the lead on 34 minutes, when Garratt dug out a sublime cross from near the bye-line on the left to find the head of Brandon Diou, who nodded home.
Flint thought they had opened up a two goal advantage just before the break, following a free kick from Stephens wide on the right. As the ball came into the box, Iwan Cartwright and Woods collided, with Woods spilling the ball and Harry Owen knocking it over the line. However, Owen was adjudged to have pushed Cartwright into Woods, and the goal was chalked off.
Caernarfon started the second period in dominant fashion, with Flint once again struggling with the tempo after the break, and equalised on 50 minutes. From a Hughes corner, the ball was cleared back to Hughes, who had advanced towards goal and into the box. despite the attentions of two defenders trying to close him down, he rolled the ball into the path of Noah Edwards who was on the edge of the 18 yard box, and his low, scudded shot went through a crowd of players and into the net.
The game now developed into an end to end affair, with both sides going for it, resulting in some great cut and thrust action.
A flick from Jean-Louis Akpa-Akpro set up Okera Simmonds for a dart into the area but he tumbled under a heavy challenge from Gruff Williams. Referee Nick Pratt waived away the strenuous appeals for a penalty, although you might be forgiven for wondering what exactly the difference was between that challenge and the one in the first half by Stephens, and where the consistency is.
Hughes tried to catch Allen unawares with a disguised free kick, but the keeper was equal to it, and pulled off a good save.
Simmonds went close with a rising shot just over, following good close control work, and then another penalty shout for the Silkmen went unheeded when a shot crashed against a defenders arm in a crowded box. From that incident, Caernarfon broke up the other end through Darren Thomas, who found Hughes, and he in turn laid the ball off to Ben Wynne, who looked certain to score, only for Allen to deny him with an outstretched leg.
Simmonds squared to Rhys Kavanagh, following a good run, but his shot was unable to find the target and flashed over the bar.
On 70 minutes, following a disputed corner, Jordan Carroll cleared off the line for Flint before Allen was called into action to deny Wynne once more, this time diving to claim the ball from a close range header.
In a frantic finale, Flint went close when Owen smashed an effort against the bar on 82 minutes, as he scooped the ball up from close range.
Disaster struck for the Silkmen a few minutes later, when a ball was played square across the Flint box to Joe Faux, who looked up and curled his shot beyond Allen and inside the post.
To be sure of survival, and not rely on Aber dropping points, it means Flint now need to go and win at Pontypridd, a repeat of the opening day’s fixture of this rollercoaster of a season. On that occasion, the Silkmen came away with a 1-0 win. What we would give for a repeat of that scoreline on Saturday afternoon.
Report by Nigel Sheen. Photos by Geoff Quinn (for full gallery of 200 pics go to https://www.flickr.com/photos/quinnys/albums )
Line Ups :
Flint Town United – H. Allen, J. Carroll, B. Beaumont (T. Garratt 33), A. Stephens, H. Owen, D. Harrison (c), B. Diau, A. Mudimu (S. El-Amri 90), R. Kavanagh, J-L Akpa-Akpro, O. Simmonds. Unused Subs – D, Szczepaniak (GK), O. Ibrahim, C. Huxley, B. Hughes, M. Roberts
Caernarfon Town – R. Woods, I. Cartwright (C. Powell-Roberts 74), B. Wynne (O. Evans 84), G. Williams, L. Bell, D. Donohue (c), S. Bradley, D. Gosset, N. Edwards, D. Thomas, R. Hughes (J. Faux 69). Unused Subs – T. Pritchard (GK), T Marsh-Hughes, A. Simpson, R. Williams
Flint MOM – Harry Allen (pulled off some great saves in a pulsating second half)