It sent the Essity Stadium into raptures, as the Silkmen completed their third straight league win to maintain their position on top of the table. It’s early days yet, but this is a side that looks totally transformed from the team which struggled to adjust to life in the top division last season. Of course, several canny squad additions by Neil Gibson have made a huge difference, and have given the side the added self belief and confidence that they can now fully compete with sides in this league.
Aber, to their credit, were a well drilled and resolute outfit, that was rock steady in defence for the full regulation ninety minutes. At the back, Rhys Davies, had an outstanding game for them, and he successfully kept Michael Wilde in check, and he can count himself very unlucky he finished on the losing side. Also, Gregor Zabret in goal, had a good game, and just about the only cross he failed to collect all game was the one that led to Flint’s dramatic winner.
The home side tried to impose themselves from the off, and on 5 minutes, Wilde headed just wide of the target, after Sam Hart’s free kick picked him out. They went on the force a number of corners, and from one such set piece on 21 minutes, with Hart again being the supplier, Ben Nash was gifted a free header, and really should have done better, but could only find the grateful arms of Zabret.
Aber were conceding a lot of free kicks in the final third, and it was beginning to look as though this would be Flint’s best route to a goal rather than from open play, as the Silkmen were struggling to break through the defensive line. On the half hour mark, Ben Maher set his sights from fully 30 yards out, after the impressive Alex Jones had been fouled. His effort struck the top of the crossbar, and was the closest Flint would come to breaking the deadlock in the normal ninety minutes.
Meanwhile, at the other end, Kai Edwards and Nash had to be alert, as although Aber’s forays into the Flint half were few and far between, when they did break, they broke with purpose and looked dangerous.
On 35 minutes, Jack Kenny went close for the Silkmen when his glancing header from yet another Hart delivery flashed just wide of the post. Nash had another opportunity with a header a few minutes before the break, but also placed it just wide.
As the game wore on, it looked as though a combination of a poor final pass and continued fine work from the Aber rearguard was going to be enough to ensure the home side wouldn’t be able to get the vital breakthrough, although they kept knocking on the door.
On 70 minutes, Conor Harwood became the first Flint forward to finally get the better of Davies at the back, when he beat him to the ball and got goal side. However, he elected to play the ball across goal to try and find a teammate, instead of shooting from a great position, and his ball was blocked. Shortly after, Hart fizzed in a free kick towards the top corner, but Zabret made a flying save to his left to deny him.
The visitors continued to look dangerous on the break, and as the clock ticked down, it definitely looked as though if the game were to be settled, it would just by a single goal, although the question remained, for which side.
Aber’s Mathew Jones had a rare sight of goal on 77 minutes, and hit a low shot that Ryan Woods gathered safely. A few minutes later, Harry Franklyn got to the bye line and delivered a dangerous cross that Woods did well to react to and got down to collect.
Flint then camped in the Aber half pressing for the goal that continued to elude them, but to their credit they kept plugging away, trying to force the opening. It finally arrived in the third minute of added time. Hart swung in the umpteenth corner of the game, Zabret missed his punch, and Jones was on hand at the far post to bundle the ball over the line to the relief and ecstasy of fans and teammates alike, as he ended up beneath a large scrum of players in the back of the net as they piled on him to celebrate in the heat of the moment.
On Tuesday evening we travel to Oswestry to face The New Saints in a battle of the only two sides still boasting a 100% record. This will be a real test for us against the full time professional side, and hopefully we can take a good travelling support with us for the reasonably short trip up to Park Hall. Kick off is 7-45pm.