Flint fans got their first real insight of what Lee Fowler’s new look side are capable of, as they produced a crisp, neat passing display that completely overwhelmed their opponents Gresford. Hitherto we had only been treated to glimpses, but last night they were pretty much on it for the whole match, carving out numerous chances, and taking three, to record their most comprehensive victory of the season so far.
Such was their dominance, that it took their opponents until the 60th minute to have their first effort on target.
On seven minutes, the returning Jay Owen stood a ball up to the far post for Jean-Louis Akpa-Akpro to power a header goalwards, but his effort was cleared off the line, only for Elliott Reeves to gain possession, but from a tight angle his attempt was also blocked on the line. Flint continued to pile on the pressure, and had a good shout for handball in the box when an Owen shot through a crowded area looked to be blocked by a Gresford arm, but the referee played on. However, they didn’t have to wait too long for the opening goal. A free kick was awarded on the left midway in the Gresford half, and Luis Lacey flighted a nice delivery into the box, and Reeves applied a glancing header to direct the ball inside the post.
The Silkmen continued to carve out chances, and in the 22nd minute Owen received a ball played square across the 18 yard box, but his rising shot cleared the bar.
A couple of minutes later Reeves sent in a stinging effort from a narrow angle out wide on the right that Gresford keeper Mike Jones did well to keep out. Just after the half hour mark he was forced into an even better stop when he pulled off an excellent reaction save from an Anthony Stephens header.
Another strong penalty appeal for handball came and went following a slick passage of play down right, but once again the referee was unmoved.
So a first half that was very much one way traffic ended with the hosts one nil up, the only minor quibble being that the scoreline should probably have been more comprehensive.
Fortunately, though, Flint got the second early on in the second half to calm any nerves. A Jake Phillips inswinging corner was met by the towering figure of Sol Forde, and although Jones did his utmost to keep the ball out, the ball had crossed the line before it was cleared.
Gresford finally registered their first effort on target on the hour mark, when Haci Ozlu struck a shot that Rhys Williams dealt with by instinctively by sticking out a foot and kicking it away. Ten minutes later, he was called upon once more, and this time spread himself well into a star shape in order to block a close range Joe Chaplin header.
That was the prompt Flint needed to up the ante once more, and in the 74th minute Reeves saw his shot parried by Jones, only for the recently introduced Harley Peagram to follow up smartly and slot the ball home.
The Silkmen, following some substitutions, were hungry to add to their tally, and finished the game strongly. With a bit more composure Ben Hughes could have scored, but saw his effort fly over the bar. Then Morgan Roberts hit a long range strike that Jones just managed to touch around the post.
But all in all, this was an extremely satisfying display, and hopefully is the shape of things to come with the players settling in and getting to know one another’s game.
Report by Nigel Sheen, Photos by Damon Mead.
Line Ups :
Flint Town United – R. Williams, J. Phillips, J. Williams (J. Jones 78), A. Stephens (c), S. Forde, D. Harrison, L. Lacey, J. Owen (H. Peagram 71), R. Kavanagh (B. Hughes 59), E. Reeves, J-L Akpa-Akpro (M. Roberts 78). Unused Subs – J. Beswick (GK), K. Mills
Gresford Athletic – M. Jones (GK), J. Smith, T. Gallagher-Keenan (A. Buxton 46), A. Hesp (T. Killilea 86), P. Johnson, J. Griffiths (c), S. Smith, J. Roberts (H. Ellis 66), H. Ozlu (D. Deacon 66), J. Chaplin (S. Spridgeon 76), C. Edge. Unused Sub – M. Busby (GK)
Flint MOM – Jake Phillips (revelling in his new midfield role)