Flint cruised to a comfortable victory at Chirk having controlled the game pretty much all the way through from the first whistle to the last. Having established a 2-0 interval lead, the Silkmen enjoyed masses of possession in the second period, but were able to provide the killer third goal, and to their credit Chirk grabbed a goal almost out of the blue with 15 minutes remaining to give themselves hope of snatching a point. But a double salvo from Josh Jones in a fine cameo appearance from the bench gave the scoreline a much more realistic feel given the balance of play.
The game was played in non-stop rain, with the downpour getting heavier the longer it went on. The visitors carved out their first decent opening after 9 minutes, when Elliott Reeves embarked on a mazy run that took him inside the box. Chirk keeper Ollie Farebrother spread himself well to deny the Flint forward. But just 2 minutes later, the Silkmen struck. Luis Lacey fired in a ball from the right and with Jean-Louis Akpa-Akpro and Paddy Lacey lurking in the vicinity, Farebrother and one of his defenders appeared to collide in their haste to clear the ball, and it deflected into the back of the net.
On 13 minutes Flint scored their second, following a bout of quickfire passing. Jake Phillips shifted the ball out to Lacey, this time on the left, and he zipped a lovely delivery into the danger area, where Akpa-Akpro was waiting to apply the finish, which he did with a wonderful diving header, scoring for his fourth successive game.
Reeves was presented with another great opportunity shortly after, when he latched onto a wayward back pass. He zoned in on goal but his shot came back off the angle of crossbar and post.
On the half hour mark Reeves threaded a ball through to Akpa- Akpro, who shot across the keeper, but Farebrother reacted well to beat it away. Then, following a free kick which was initially charged down by the Chirk defensive wall, Anthony Stephens blasted a long range effort goalwards that just cleared the bar by a matter of inches.
The home side finally carved out their first real opening on 33 minutes, after being awarded a free kick midway inside the Flint half on the left. Matty Williams met the delivery and knocked it down into the path of Dale Davies, who from 6 yards out was unable to connect properly as he slid in, allowing Joe Beswick to collect the ball.
At the break it was 2-0 to the Silkmen with the only blemish being an injury suffered by Paddy Lacey, who looked to have twisted his foot in a divot, and had to be replaced by Morgan Roberts.
Much of the second period was played inside the Chirk half, but whilst they were knocking the ball around comfortably, Flint were lacking the cutting edge to put the game beyond the reach of the home side. It looked as though that might have been provided in the 52nd minute, as Ben Hughes was played in, and rounded Farebrother, but from a tight angle his shot was off target.
As Flint continued to struggle to make inroads, Chirk started to find some self belief, and tried to take the game to the visitors for a brief spell. Stef Rogers broke through the Flint defensive line and forced Beswick into making a good save, as he turned the effort around his near post. From the corner, the ball was not cleared properly, and it fell to Ryan Davies who drilled it into the net to give his side hope. But if the door was momentarily ajar, it was soon slammed shut again as Flint re-established a two goal lead a couple of minutes later.
Jay Owen floated a free kick into the penalty area, and Josh Jones made a good run across goal to meet it with a flicked back header that sent the ball spinning past Farebrother.
Having reasserted themselves, Flint finished the game strongly, and Harley Peagram raced through to find himself with just Farebrother to beat, but he sent his shot just wide of the target into the side netting. With three minutes remaining, Akpa-Akpro produced a fine defence splitting ball to find Jones, who kept his composure to finish well and bag his second of the game.
This was an encouraging good all round team performance for the Silkmen which should put them in good heart for their meeting with Airbus at the Essity Stadium next Saturday.
Report by Nigel Sheen. Photos by Brian Prydden.
Line Ups :
Chirk AAA – O. Farebrother, J. Edwards, R. Williams (S. Parrish 37), J. Ellison (c) (R. Jones 46), M. Williams, J. Phillips (R. Chorlton-Wilcox 79), T. Lloyd (I. Hardy 59), R. Davies, D. Davies, S. Rogers, R. Edwards (M. McLaughlin 59)
Flint Town United – J. Beswick, L. Lacey, J. Williams, A. Stephens, P. Lacey (M. Roberts 18), S. Forde, J. Phillips, J. Owen (c), B. Hughes (H. Peagram 54), Elliott Reeves (J. Jones 49), J-L Akpa-Akpro Unused Subs – R. Kavanagh, H. Cartwright, D. Harrison
Flint MOM – Jean-Louis Akpa-Akpro (pulled the strings for his team from midfield and was a dominant presence throughout the game)