A successful campaign by Flint has ended with a fifth placed finish following yesterday’s 1-1 draw with visitors Newtown. As the second half of the season progressed, and our form dipped, hampered by a long injury list, perhaps there is some disappointment that we were unable to sustain our early season momentum and keep up the challenge for a European place, but looking back to the beginning of August, the majority of Flint supporters would no doubt have been more than satisfied with a comfortable top half finish. And by finishing 5th we have guaranteed ourselves a play off berth, albeit not for the prize of qualifying for a place in Europe as is normally the case, but rather the opportunity to compete in the less alluring Scottish Challenge Cup. Depending upon who wins the Welsh Cup next weekend, we shall either have a home game against Penybont or an away trip to Caernarfon.
But back to yesterday’s game, which for the majority of the first half was a typical end of season affair. Both sides took a while to get into their stride, and it was 25 minutes before any notable action occurred. A quick free kick by Jake Phillips caught the Newtown defence momentarily off guard, and Mark Cadwallader latched onto the long ball, controlled it and was about to eye up a goal attempt when he was thwarted by Robins keeper Dave Jones who rushed out to collect. Just a minute later, from a Sam Hart free kick on the opposite side of the pitch, Ben Nash sent a header wide of the target.
Newtown had the best chance of the half on 37 minutes, when they sprang a lightning counter attack following a Flint corner. Jones had cleared the set piece with a decisive punch that set the attack in motion. A two on one situation soon developed as Fumpa Mwandwe raced into the Flint half, accompanied to his right by James Davies. As Danny Harrison was drawn into stopping Mwandwe in his tracks, the ball was slipped to Davies who was clean through on goal. Fortunately, Jon Rushton provided an imposing barrier, and stood up well to deny Davies as he pulled off a terrific save.
Five minutes into the second half, Newtown took the lead in somewhat bizarre circumstances. A long throw was flicked on towards the far post, and Rushton under pressure, could only punch the ball upwards rather than out. It then caught on the swirling wind and ended up going back towards the near post where Aaron Williams was waiting to glance it home, despite the presence of Nash on the line, who attempted to clear. However, the Assistant ruled it had crossed the line before the Flint defender had got it away.
Flint attempted to rally and created a series of half chances, but just couldn’t make them pay, First, a free kick that was swung in was headed back across goal and Callum Bratley hit a volley that was well blocked by a Robins defender. Then Alex Jones displayed good battling qualities to win the ball back for his side, before releasing Cadwallader, but Jones stood up well to save the effort in the Newtown goal.
Flint kept plugging away, and in the 82nd minute, a long throw came off a Newtown defender and sat up perfectly for Jones, but his header could only find the arms of his namesake in between the posts. The two Joneses were in the thick of the action once more a couple of minutes later. This time Dave Jones spilled the ball under pressure from Alex, and as the ball ran loose, Conor Harwood let fly with a goalbound effort that was headed clear just in front of the line by a covering defender.
But Flint’s persistence was eventually rewarded in the final minute of normal time. Bratley received the ball in an advanced position down the left flank, and turned his defender one way and then another, as he sought to create some space. Rather than go for the cross himself, he rolled the ball back into the path of the supporting Ross Weaver, who lofted the ball into the box, where it was met by Jones, who this time wasn’t to be denied, planting his header firmly into the corner from 6 yards out.
Report by Nigel Sheen
Line Ups :
Flint Town United – J. Rushton, J. Phillips, S. Hart, B. Maher, B. Nash, D. Harrison, R. Weaver (L. Ellis 91), A. Jones (c), C. Harwood, M. Cadwallader, C. Bratley. Unused Subs – N. Collings (GK), O. Nugent, L. Ball, J. Williams, J. Davis, H. Brindley-Peagram
Newtown – D. Jones, J. Walker, C. Roberts (N. Arsan 46), R. Sears, S. Sutton (K. Mills-Evans 36), C. Williams (c) (B. Taylor 75), F. Mwandwe, N. Rushton (Z. Ismail 75), G. Hughes, A. Williams (J. Breese 69), J. Davies
Flint MOM – Callum Bratley (always looked the most likely to unlock the visitors defence)