Flint overcame a stuttering first half performance to eventually romp home 5-1 winners, in a repeat scoreline of the Boxing Day encounter between the two sides, with a three goal salvo in a five minute period soon after the interval turning the tide firmly in their favour.
With just a minute on the clock, Jean-Louis Akpa-Akpro was cleverly slipped in, but he curled his shot wide of the target. That looked to have set the tone for the game, but Llandudno hadn’t read the script, and shocked the hosts by grabbing the lead on 12 minutes. Indecision by Sol Forde was punished when Ethan Roberts nipped in and robbed the ball as Forde attempted to let it run out over the bye-line. He pulled it back across the 6 yard box and Fabrizio Murtas was on hand to meet it and stroke it home.
Flint pressed for the equaliser and chances came and went, as the home side forced a series of corners, but were unable to take advantage, with the ‘Dudno goal at times seemingly leading a charmed life. Paddy Lacey headed wide at the far post from close range, whilst Akpa-Akpro hit a side foot shot from an excellent position that didn’t trouble Tom Guinn in the visitor’s goal as it lacked power. Guinn, a late change to the visitor’s line up after regular keeper Joe Angus fell ill during the warm up, was being put under a lot of pressure from crosses into the 6 yard box, and whilst he was not always convincing in dealing with them, he was managing to get vital touches to deflect the ball from its intended target. On the half hour mark, though, Harley Peagram did meet a cross from the left and his header struck the bar. Just prior to that, another defensive lapse by Flint presented Llandudno with another chance. Paddy Lacey gifted possession to Alex Boss who had a clean sight of goal, but his weak shot went safely into the hands of Rhys Williams, who was making his return in the Flint goal following injury.
On 32 minutes, another cross from the left into the visitor’s box was clearly handled by a defender stationed just beyond the far post, and Flint were awarded a penalty. Josh Jones stepped up and confidently stuck home the equaliser.
In the 36th minute there were chances at either end. First, Murtas was through on goal, but Williams denied him with a good save, then Flint mounted a swift counter, and Akpa-Akpro crossed to the far post, Luis Lacey met it sweetly, but his effort struck a defender just in front of the goal-line and the ball deflected up and over the bar.
A Jake Phillips delivery was met by Forde on 41 minutes and his header was well kept out by Guinn, who was now settling into his role.
Flint were again guilty of lax defending at the start of the second half, when Llandudno skipper Daniel Holland wasn’t closed down, and decided to try his luck from distance. His shot almost caught Williams out, as he was moving one way across his goal, but he managed to brilliantly readjust his position before flinging out an arm to push the shot past his post.
After that it was pretty much one way traffic as Flint seized the initiative, and scored three goals in a five minute spell. First they broke down the right, and Elliott Reeves chased down the ball before looking up and crossing to the far post where Jones was waiting to net his second of the afternoon. Then, the high press paid dividends as Llandudno were unable to clear, and Luis Lacey seized onto a loose ball, strode into the box and calmly picked his spot to make it 3-1.
Flint’s fourth arrived from a free kick delivered into the box. Paddy Lacey flicked the ball on into the path of Reeves and he crashed it home with a well executed strike giving Guinn no chance of keeping it out.
Chances continued to come and go for the home side, who now had their tails up. A slick move on 71 minutes resulted in Phillips slipping in Jones who delivered an excellent ball to Rhys Kavanagh, but Guinn denied him with a great reaction save. From the resulting corner, Paddy Lacey headed over when he should really have found the target.
The scoring was rounded off in the 85th minute. Jay Owen produced a clever back heel from the bye-line to set up Reeves, but faced with a defender and Guinn, he wisely flicked it on to Akpa-Akpro who was presented with an open goal and duly obliged by tapping in.
There was still time for another couple of good chances to go begging, as first Akpa-Akpro won the ball back in midfield, before setting up Kavanagh, but Guinn once again denied him, then Jones was presented with a free header in the 6 yard box to claim his hat-trick but he directed it straight at Guinn, who capped a fine overall performance by keeping it out.
Report by Nigel Sheen. Photos by Geoff Quinn (for full album go to https://www.flickr.com/photos/quinnys/albums/72177720313463912/ )
Line Ups :
Flint Town United – R. Williams, J. Phillips (G. Maire 90), J. Williams, S. Forde (M. Roberts 83), P. Lacey, H. Peagram (R. Kavanagh 50), L. Lacey, J. Owen (c) (H. Cartwright 90), E. Reeves (B. Hughes 83), J. Jones, J-L Akpa-Akpro. Unused Sub – L. Murphy (GK)
Llandudno – T. Guinn, S. Brown (C. Evans 71), A. Banning (J. Gee 82), F. Montgomery, R. Davies, L. Ellis (R. Weaver 57), E. Roberts, B. Nicholas, A. Boss, D. Holland (c), F. Murtas Unused Sub – K. Cooper
Flint MOM – Jay Owen (the skipper set the tempo for his side and was a commanding presence)