Realistically it was always going to be a case of damage limitation against The New Saints, but some basic defensive errors added to the woes of the home side, and ultimately contributed to a heavy loss, with Flint’s goal difference taking a bit of a pounding.
The Silkmen’s back-line was sliced open twice in the opening 10 minutes, thanks to defence splitting passes through the middle. On both occasions, Harry Allen was smartly off his line to deal with the danger. First to deny Ben Clark, and then to thwart Ashley Baker.
Flint mounted a swift counter attack of their own down the right through Rhys Kavanagh on 11 minutes, his first time cross just eluding Okera Simmonds, and a defender managed to clear the danger.
The New Saints opened the scoring on 18 minutes. A corner delivered under the bat was partially cleared, but the ball only reached Clark who was situated wide on the right hand edge of the 6 yard box, and he managed to squeeze it in from a tight angle.
A few minutes later, Ryan Brobbel set up Dan Redmond, who struck a fierce shot that Allen reacted well to, to keep oout, but the ball fell to the lurking Declan McManus, who had been played onside, and he had a simple task to tap it home.
It was 3-0 on 24 minutes, when Adam Wilson crossed from the right. The ball appeared to deceive Allen as it flashed across the goal, and Brobbel was there on the back post to bundle it in.
To their credit, Flint rallied at this point, and started to get a foothold in the game, with Ben Hughes in particular doing some good work in the midfield area. Jean-Louis Akpa-Akpro was fouled 24 yards out in the 27th minute, and Anthony Stephens stepped up to strike another of his trademark free kicks, which arrowed into the top corner of Connor Roberts’ net to reduce the deficit to 3-1.
If they could have made it to half time with just the two goal deficit, it might have given the Silkmen some hope for the second period, but on 41 minutes, TNS stuck once more. This time Brobbel was the provider, crossing into the 6 yard box from the left, where McManus was waiting to claim his second of the game.
On 55 minutes, Redmond looked to be trying to find McManus with a long range ball. In attempting to block the pass, the unfortunate Stephens only succeeded in heading past Allen to make it 5-1 to the visitors.
Brobbel cantered down the left wing on the hour mark, before delivering a cross to the far post, where Clark headed it goalwards, and McManus once again displayed his goal poaching skills to nip in and finish it off, and claim his hat-trick, with the Flint defenders claiming in vain for an offside flag.
Brobbel was then allowed to slalom through the Flint defence, before finding McManus once more who made it 7-1.
Flint’s misery was complete when TNS substitute broke down the left, before crossing to find Clark, who finished from 12 yards.
We now have one more game left in phase 1, when we entertain Pontypridd United on Saturday 21st January. With just one point separating the teams, and after last night’s heavy loss, just one goal in terms of goal difference, this is now set to become a pivotal game, with a win for either side likely to give them some much needed momentum as we head into the second half of the season.
Report by Nigel Sheen. Photos by Geoff Quinn. (Full Gallery of pics can be found on https://www.flickr.com/photos/quinnys/albums/72177720305130511/with/52620534265/ )
Line Ups :
Flint Town United – H. Allen, J. Carroll, B. Diau, A, Stephens, H. Owen, D. Harrison (c), B. Beaumont (M. Roberts 46), B. Hughes, R. Kavanagh (O. Ibrahim 46), J-L Akpa-Akpro, O. Simmonds. Unused Subs – N. Collings (GK), L. Ellis, H. Brindley-Peagram, A. Mather
The New Saints – C. Roberts, B, Hudson, C. Marriott (c) (D. Davies 61), A. Baker, R. Astles, J. Routledge, B. Clark, R. Brobbel (G. Dafydd 74), D. McManus (R. Warder 75), D. Redmond (D. Williams 65), A. Wilson (A. Cieslewicz 61) Unused Subs – L. Simpson, L. Smith
Flint MOM – Ben Hughes (never stopped running and trying to make things happen for his team)