Despite some valiant rearguard action after being reduced to 10 men in the first half, Flint were eventually defeated by a solitary goal. Cardiff Met proved themselves to be tough, difficult opponents, and despite not creating too much in the final third ourselves, either before or after the sending off, our resilience was commendable apart from one fatal lapse in concentration that Met took full advantage of.
In terms of possession, even before the dismissal it was pretty much one sided, with the Met having by far the lions share. They were presented with an early chance after just 3 minutes, when, from a short corner, the ball was whipped in to Chris Craven, who had a free header from 6 yards out but his effort sailed well over.
On 19 minutes, Oscar Ibrahim found himself in the referee’s book, following a lunge on Matthew Chubb, who was beginning to look troublesome down the right for Met. From the resulting free kick, Ibrahim intercepted the cross with a header, which was heading into his own net, but for the smart intervention of Dawid Szczepaniak, who dived low to his left to keep the ball out.
Cardiff continued to press, and Stephens managed to get in a good block on 26 minutes to thwart Lewis Rees whose shot looked as though it was goalbound. Unfortunately, shortly after that good piece of defending, Stephens turned from hero to villain, when he was shown a straight red for a somewhat reckless tackle. Once again the victim was Chubb, who was causing mayhem down the Met right with his thrusting runs.
Just before that incident, Flint had put together their first real chance of the game, when Jean-Louis Akpa-Akpro received a cross field pass, and shot from about 22 yards out, straight at keeper Alex Lang, who was able to collect quite comfortably.
Akpa-Akpro demonstrated a lovely piece of individual skill on 35 minutes, as he controlled the ball, took it in his stride and then let fly with another long range effort. This time Lang scrambled down to the ground to smother his shot.
Flint had a let off just before half time, when a wicked ball was crossed in at pace from the left. It flashed across the face of the away side’s goal, somehow just eluding their top scorer Sam Jones along the way, perhaps because a Flint defender had managed to get a small, but significant touch on the ball.
At the start of the second period, Lee Fowler brought on Ben Hughes, to provide a vital outlet for the 10 men, whilst Tyler Garratt was also introduced for his debut, replacing Ibrahim, who was treading a fine line having already been cautioned. Just two minutes into the half, Flint created their best chance of the game. Brandon Diau headed a ball into the path of Akpa-Akpro, who allowed it to bounce before striking a sweet shot on the half volley that was heading under the bar, until Lang flew across his goal to touch it over.
Meanwhile, it seemed Met were guilty of overplaying, as Flint were content to let them enjoy possession as long as they weren’t seriously troubling them. However, one such passage of play did bring about the vital breakthrough on 58 minutes. The ball was passed from side to side about half way inside the Flint half until Thomas Price made a dart forward, and fed Eliot Evans, who wasn’t closed down quickly enough. He put in a cross along the 6 yard box, and Lewis Rees ghosted in to tap home an easy goal. Having defended robustly up to that point, it was a soft goal to concede.
Flint were now forced to come out and try and get something to salvage a point, and to their credit they tried their best, utilising the strength of Akpa-Akpro and the pace of Hughes, where they could. They forced a succession of throw ins parallel to the penalty box, where they tried to deliver long throws to utilise the height advantage of Diau. However he was well marshalled by two, sometimes three defenders, and so he was unable to get a telling flick on the ball. Cardiff made a swift counter attack on 78 minutes. when Rees broke down the left, before finding Evans in a more central position. He in turn helped the ball onto Jones, who came into the area from the right, and found himself in a one on one situation with Szczepaniak. Fortunately, the Flint keeper spread himself well to deny Jones another goal to add to his tally.
Diau was now pressed into action as an emergency centre forward as the Silkmen tried in vain to find an equaliser, but they were lacking that bit of quality in the opposition box to make the difference. The nearest they got was when an inswinging corner struck the angle between post and bar, although Lang would probably have been able to tip it over if required.
Report by Nigel Sheen
Line Ups :
Cardiff Met – A. Lang, M. Chubb (J. Davies 64), K. McCarthy (A. Jones 46), C. Craven, E. Lewis, T. Price, E. Evans, C. Baker (c), L. Rees (C. Davies 82), S. Jones, H. Owen. Unused Subs – M. Manson, D. Cabango, C. Williams, E. Humphries
Flint Town United – D. Szczepaniak, J. Carroll, O. Ibrahim (T. Garratt 46), A. Stephens, H. Owen, D. Harrison, B. Beaumont, J. Owen (c), J-L Akpa-Akpro, B. Diau, J. Major (B. Hughes 46). Unused subs – H. Allen (GK), L. Cole, J. Hindle, L. Ellis, E. Akobeto
Flint MOM – Jean-Louis Akpa-Akpro (worked his socks off both up front and in defence when required)