Having trailed 1-0 at the break, Flint had to dig deep to preserve their unbeaten record against a determined and resilient Guilsfield side. Elliott Reeves was the hero for the home side, cracking in an excellent strike to drag his team back on terms just before the hour mark.
The visitors were clearly up for this, coming into the game on the back of a 2-0 loss to a strong TNS side in the NMG cup semi finals during the week. They were busy in the midfield areas chasing the ball down, and having won possession used their pace up front to good effect.
The opening exchanges were fairly even, but both sides were unable to land a telling blow on the other.
In the 18th minute, Joe Williams picked the ball up on the far right of the 18 yard box, and unleashed a terrific shot that smashed against the bar, to the despair of the home side.
Guilsfield took full advantage of that let off, and opened the scoring on 26 minutes. Paddy Lacey was dispossessed by Reece Warder as he dwelt too long on the ball. Warder managed to knock the ball into the path of Jamie Hyne as Lacey tried to recover, and Hyne took it on before coolly chipping it in past Rhys Williams in the Flint goal.
Flint looked to respond quickly, and a couple of minutes after falling behind, a long throw sent into the opposition box fell to Sol Forde, who hit a good effort that once again struck the woodwork.
The home side kept plugging away, but were generally being kept at arms length by a determined Guilsfield team, who were doing their utmost to protect their advantage.
On 41 minutes, Elliott Reeves showed good awareness having received the ball with his back to goal out on the right by turning and carrying into a more central position before hitting a shot from just outside the area that called Robbie Williams into action in the visitors goal, and he gathered safely.
Just before the break, Warder had a good sight of goal for Guilsfield, and forced Rhys Williams into making a good diving save, to ensure his side just trailed by the one goal at the interval.
Flint come out with more purpose in the second period, and on 56 minutes a long ball down the middle was flicked on by Reeves into the path of Josh Jones, who shrugged off the attention of a defender to create an opening for himself, but unfortunately screwed the shot wide of the target.
However, a couple of minutes later, Flint did manage to get back on terms. Paddy Lacey won a header on the edge of the box, knocking the ball into the path of Reeves, who needed no second invitation as he struck a sweet shot that hit the underside of the bar, before bouncing over the goal-line.
The Silkmen then tried to make the most of the momentum shift, and Lacey again won a header in the box, this time getting there ahead of keeper Williams, effectively taking him out of the game, and heading into the path of Jean-Louis Akpa-Akpro, whose half volley whilst on target, lacked sufficient power, and it was cleared off the line.
On 68 minutes, another delivery into the box had Williams in trouble when Forde reached it ahead of him. Lewis Sirrell seized onto the loose ball and lobbed it goalwards but a deflection took it just over the bar.
Guilsfield responded by introducing Iwan Matthews and Andrew Evans from the bench, and both looked dangerous when they came on. Matthews won the ball from a poor goal kick, and fed Evans, but Williams redeemed himself by getting down well to push the ball away to safety from Evans’ shot.
On 81 minute, Evans was denied once more. He struck a shot from the edge of the area that looked to be heading into the corner of the net until Paddy Lacey stuck out a vital boot to deflect it away.
With the game deep in stoppage time, Flint created one more decent chance from a long throw into the box. Sirrell flicked it on at the near post and Reeves tried to force it over the line from close range, but Williams dived on it in the nick of time to prevent it crossing the line.
To their credit, Guilsfield came with a game plan to nullify Flint, and it was largely successful, and a draw in the end was a fair result between the two sides.
Report by Nigel Sheen. Photos by Geoff Quinn (for full gallery go to www.flickr.com/photos/quinnys/albums )
Line Ups :
Flint Town United – R. Williams, J. Phillips, J. Williams (B. Hughes 56), A. Stephens (L. Sirrell 46), S. Forde. P. Lacey, L. Lacey, J. Owen (c), E. Reeves, R. Kavanagh (J-L Akpa-Akpro 56), J. Jones. Unused Subs – L. Murphy, M. Roberts
Guilsfield – R. Williams, C. Bromley, A. Knott, C. Catherall, I. Lambert. J. Harries (c), J. Hyne (A. Evans 62), E. Turner, T. Williams (J. Haycock 79), R. Warder (A. Ford 70), J. Cook (I. Matthews 70). Unused Sub – J. Richards
Flint MOM – Elliott Reeves (was the most potent goal threat for the home side and struck a great equaliser)