Both sides preserved their unbeaten league starts as this entertaining Flintshire derby, played in front of 900 plus fans, finished 1-1, with Flint grabbing a well deserved equaliser in stoppage time, courtesy of a Jean-Louis Akpa-Akpro penalty.
Holywell had the upper hand in the early stages, and could have gone ahead with barely a minute on the clock. Danny Sullivan rose highest but headed just over the bar from an early corner. Brady McGilloway was causing havoc in the opening period, cutting in from the Holywell right, as the Flint defence struggled to get to grips with him.
On seven minutes, Flint keeper Rhys Williams pulled off a fine save when he was at full stretch to keep out a Gareth Evans strike from the edge of the box as the Wellmen continued to press.
After withstanding the opening 10 minutes, Flint gradually began to assert themselves upon proceedings, and a Jake Phillips long throw brought about their first real chance, as Sol Forde met it, but headed just over. A cute ball from Luis Lacey on 16 minutes released Elliott Reeves, but his shot from wide on the left of the box flashed across goal, and just evaded the target as Holywell’s keeper Shaun Pearson got a hand to it. From the resulting corner, the ball fell to Joe Williams, who at the second attempt smashed a powerful shot goalwards, but Pearson denied him with a good stop.
Jean-Louis Akpa-Akpro had the next chance, as he was through one on one with Pearson, but his shot was too near the keeper, and once again the Holywell custodian saved.
The momentum then started to swing back to the visitors as the Wellmen created a couple of decent headed opportunities, but on each occasion they were directed straight at Williams in the Flint goal, who saved comfortably.
With a couple of minutes of the opening period remaining, Lacey looked as though he might have broken the deadlock as he jinked into the box before hitting a daisycutter that looked destined for the inside of the far post but agonisingly finished inches the wrong side of it.
The breakthrough eventually came in the 56th minute, and it was Holywell who capitalised. From a throw halfway inside their own territory on the right, they quickly switched play across to the left, and Jake Cooke was free to gallop past his marker onto the ball and confidently slot it past Williams.
After that, it was pretty much one way traffic as Flint pressed for an equaliser, but Holywell adopted a good defensive shape, making it difficult for the home side to break through their lines. Reeves and Akpa-Akpro were doing their best with some intelligent play, but composed finishing was proving to be the achilles heel of the Silkmen as Pearson was only called upon to make routine stops to keep his goal intact.
Ben Hughes had a positive impact upon proceeding when he was introduced to the action, as he looked to inject some fresh impetus for his side.
With 10 minutes remaining, Jay Owen swung over a quality free kick that Akpa-Akpro met, but his effort finished just wide of the target as the Flint fans were ready to celebrate a goal.
In the 87th minute another chance went begging, after Forde had played a good ball into Reeves, who in turn found Rhys Kavanagh, but his shot flew over the bar from a decent position.
The game was in the 4th minute of added time when Reeves received the ball just outside of the box, before entering the 18 yard area and being brought to the ground, earning a penalty for his side. Akpa-Akpro stepped up and buried the spot kick to bring his side level. But the drama still hadn’t quite ended. Sullivan was shown a red card for the visitors following an apparent elbow on Reeves in an off the ball incident, and then Forde could have won it for the Silkmen almost at the death, but his header finished just over the bar.
On reflection a draw was probably a fair result although both managers will no doubt have felt their side could have edged it.
Line Ups :
Flint Town United – R. Williams, J. Phillips (B. Hughes 62), J. Williams, A. Stephens (c), S. Forde, D. Harrison, L. Lacey (J. Jones 80), J. Owen (c), H. Peagram (R. Kavanagh 62), E. Reeves, J-L Akpa-Akpro Unused Subs – J. Beswick (GK), H. Cartwright, M. Roberts, H. Drazdauskas
Holywell Town – S. Pearson, R. Edwards, Z. Edwards, J. Graham (c), G. Evans, D. Sullivan, T. Bibby, B. McGilloway (L. Wiltshire 85), D, Forbes (M. Winslade 61), D. Andrews (J. Williams 81), J. Cooke
Flint MOM – Elliott Reeves (a composed performance by the forward who marauded across the front line causing problems for the visitors defence)