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Match Report

Silkmen’s late goals rock the Rock

Gresford Athletic
Flint Town United
Gresford Athletic
Flint Town United
Heading into the final minute of a pulsating game against Gresford at the Rock, Flint were tied 2-2, having twice come from behind to draw level. But by the time the final whistle had blown, they had managed to score twice more, to emerge as 4-2 winners. The late goals were scored by their substitutes, Jean-Louis Akpa-Akpro and Harley Peagram, who finished off proceedings with a 35 yard wonder strike. Earlier, Elliott Reeves had contributed with a couple of goals, to bring his side back in contention.
Gresford employed an attack minded formation, often deploying three forwards. And at times, they were giving the Flint defence problems with their pressing and harrying. However, Flint had started the game in control, and were putting together some nice passing moves. Ben Hughes had stung the hands of Gresford keeper Lewis Dutton with an early chance, whilst Josh Jones had seen his shot cleared off the line following a well worked corner that had the home defence flat footed.
So it was something of a shock when Gresford took the lead on 7 minutes. Haci Ozlu received the ball down the right channel and got the better of Anthony Stephens, before turning in towards goal. He shot across Rhys Williams, and the ball struck the base of the post, before bouncing back across the line and into the net on the opposite side.
Flint responded well, and kept creating chances. Jake Phillips cut inside from the right and hit a curling 20 yard effort that flew just over the bar. Then, in the 20th minute, a lovely move ended with Luis Lacey threading a ball into the path of Hughes, but his shot cracked against the bar. A minute later, Reeves was presented with a good chance at the far post, but his close range header struck the upright, and you just wondered if it was going to be one of those nights.
But, to their credit, the Silkmen kept patiently plugging away, and got their reward after 33 minutes. Following a good spell of pressure, Phillips received the ball on the right, and whipped in a cross onto the head of Reeves, and this time the striker made no mistake as he directed it into the back of the net.
Flint almost handed the initiative straight back to the hosts, when defensive hesitancy allowed Ozlu in once more, and from a good position 6 yards out he blasted well over.
With five minutes of the half remaining, Reeves beat the offside trap and was through one on one with Dutton, but the keeper did well and saved with his legs.
So it was all square at the break, but having got back on terms and with the style of football they were playing, Flint were seemingly well placed to capitalise in the second half.
However, the home side had other ideas, and the game became more attritional after the interval, as Gresford looked to slow things down at every opportunity and generally break up play whenever possible. For their part, Flint were guilty of over elaborating in their build up play, passing up shooting opportunities to try and set up other teammates, with the result that the attacks often fizzled out. It wasn’t until the 60th minute, that the first decent chance of the second half was created, when Phillips saw his shot from just outside of the box acrobatically tipped over the bar by Dutton.
A rare foray into the Flint half brought a reward for the hosts after 73 minutes when they retook the lead. Dominic Deacon was found on the angle of the 6 yard box just beyond the far post, and with Williams covering that side of the goal he blasted a rising shot past the Flint keeper, sheer power doing the trick.
Back came Flint and equalised five minutes later. Hughes displayed good feet on the left, earning himself some space before crossing to find Reeves, who duly obliged and nodded home to make it 2-2.
With the league table the way it is, Flint know they can’t afford to drop points if they want to stay in contention, and yet it looked as though that may well be the case here, as we headed into the final minute, although there was bound to be a generous amount of added on time due to the various delays that had occurred in the second half.
Flint won a corner in the 90th minute. Phillips sent over an inviting ball to the far post area, and Akpa-Akpro rose majestically to meet it and bury it into the net to make it 3-2 to the visitors. Cue rapturous scenes from the Flint supporters.
Things got even better in the fourth minute of added on time. Peagram picked the ball up in the centre of the park, and shrugged off a challenge to run forwards. He had options out wide on the right to play the ball to safety and run down the clock, but instead he looked up, saw Dutton off his line, and from fully 35 yards out he hit an audacious chip that sailed over the keeper and into the goal. A truly stunning strike to cap a memorable comeback from the Silkmen.

Report by Nigel Sheen

Line Ups :
Gresford Athletic – L. Dutton, T. Gallagher-Keen, N. Williams, A. Hesp, P. Johnson, J. Griffiths (c), J. Pownall (L. Bennett 23), C. Mann, D. Deacon (J. Roberts 85), H. Ozlu (C. Mannion 76), C. Edge. Unused Subs – J. Smith, A. Buxton
Flint Town United – R. Williams, J. Phillips, S. Forde, A. Stephens (c), L. Sirrell (J. Owen 90), P. Lacey, L. Lacey, B. Hughes (J-L Akpa-Akpro 87), E. Reeves, B. Wynne, J. Jones (H. Peagram 72). Unused Subs – L. Murphy (GK), D. Harrison, M. Burke, M. Roberts

Flint MOM – Elliott Reeves (an all round good example of forward play)