All of the frantic and frenetic activity of the last six weeks or so by Lee Fowler and his staff in trying to assemble a squad was handsomely rewarded with a deserved opening day win at newly promoted Pontypridd, with a fine debut goal by Okera Simmonds proving the crucial difference.
In the early stages, both teams were very tentative, felling each other out, and adapting to the strength sapping heat. But Flint then began to settle into their game, and carved out a great chance when Omar Ibrahim sent over a cross from the left touchline. Simmonds dropped off his marker, to earn himself the space for a free header, but from six yards out he sent his effort over the bar, much to his own frustration.
The lively Simmonds was looking to be Flint’s most dangerous outlet, and he embarked of a mazy run into the opposition penalty area, darting in between several players before his run was finally brought to an end. Just before the half hour mark, he almost got on the end of Ben Hughes’ inswinging corner, but ‘Pridd keeper Ashley Morris just about managed to claw the ball away from him in the nick of time.
The home side put together their best move of the half shortly after, and the ball was squared across the box into the run of left back Oliver Dalton, who connected well with the ball, but his rising shot just cleared the Flint bar.
As the game entered first half stoppage down, Flint made the breakthrough. A variation on their corner routine saw Hughes play a ball along the ground to the edge of the box, where Simmonds met it sweetly to rocket a shot into the net off the underside of the bar. The ball clearly bounced over the line before rebounding back into play, but as Simmonds wheeled away in celebration the goal was quickly awarded by the officials.
Simmonds almost turned provider in the 53rd minute, when he delivered a cross in from the right to fellow striker Jean-Louis Akpa-Akpro. Unfortunately, he was unable to get over the ball and direct his header on goal from 6 yards out.
Just before the hour mark Pontypridd split open the Flint defence after Luke Cummings played a lovey through ball to set Owain Jones away. Flint keeper Dawid Szczepaniak distinguished himself when he stuck out a foot to get a vital deflection on the shot that sent it just wide of the post.
On 72 minutes, Harry Owen got on the end of a Flint corner to direct his header goalwards only to see it blocked by Jordan Knott who was positioned just in front of the line.
As the game reached its final stages Flint looked to be comfortably holding their own, with Brandon Diau again proving to be a central figure in dealing with any dangerous balls into the box. But there almost proved to be a sting in the tail as the game entered stoppage time. Cummings tried a long throw from the right hand side into the box, and as the ball was cleared back to him, he sent in a cross towards the far post. The ball broke invitingly to James Saddler who had a clean shot on goal, but Anthony Stephens took up an excellent position on the line and was on hand to clear the effort and so earn his side the maximum points and keep their clean sheet intact.
Report by Nigel Sheen
Line Ups :
Pontypridd United – A. Morris (c), L. Cummings, O. Dalton (L. Baldock 65), J. Saddler, J. Knott, L. Twamley, K. Rees, J. Evans, J. Wright, C. Jenkins (A. Hillier 65), O. Jones. Unused Subs – H. Irving (GK), J. Bloom, J. Woodwiss, E. Hibbert
Flint Town United – D. Szczepaniak, B. Beaumont, O. Ibrahim, A. Stephens, H. Owen, D. Harrison, B. Diau, J. Owen (c), J-L Akpa-Akpro, B. Hughes (L. Cole 55), O. Simmonds (L. Ellis 90). Unused Subs – J. Hampson, H. Brindley-Peagram, E. Akobeto
Flint MOM – Okera Simmonds (was lively throughout and capped his debut with a class goal)