Spoils are Shared in See-Saw Match
In a game in which they could have conceivably been three down after 10 minutes, Flint may rue the fact they couldn't close the game out against 10 men
The visitors were sluggish in the extreme in the opening period of the match, with the defence, which had been performing well of late, all at sixes and sevens with one another, and the midfield not getting anywhere near their counterparts and giving them far too much time and space. Guilsfield took full advantage of Flint's ponderous start, and attacked at will down the flanks, especially Flint's left, where they were gifted wide open spaces to run into.
Jake Cook served notice for the home side on 3 minutes, when he hit a rising shot over the bar. Then, a couple of minutes later, Chris Cathrall was all alone on the right of Flint's goal, and hit a low shot that Nik Lee-Bulmer did well to get to and divert out for a corner.
A minute later, Ieuan Hewitt played a loose ball that gave away possession and both Cathrall and Callum Bromley broke clear of the Flint defence and through on goal. Cathrall outpaced his team-mate and fired a shot on target, but again Bulmer did well to deny him, pushing the ball out wide to his left. Bromley raced to collect the loose ball, and with the Flint defence still floundering, played it back to Cathrall who was more central, and he made no mistake at the second time of asking as he steered the ball into the net.
On 10 minutes, a ball was played from the left across the Flint box, and found Cathrall, who was yet again stood on his own, unmarked. Bulmer pulled off a terrific save, that he had no right to make, as he once again spared his defenders blushes.
Flint managed to muster their first real threat on 15 minutes, when Richie Foulkes got on the end of a cross, but could only direct his header just wide of the target, from an awkward angle. Carl Rodgers played a sweet through ball into the path of Obi Anoruo on 23 minutes, but Guils' keeper Andy Wycherley was on hand to make a comfortable save from the Flint forward.
Then, just before the half hour mark came the big flashpoint of the game. Asa Hamilton was penalised for a nasty looking, late challenge on Andy Brown, with a brief furore ensuing as players from both sides got involved in a bit of pushing and shoving. Then, just as it looked as if the referee would, at worst, issue a caution to Hamilton, the player decided to launch a verbal tirade at the linesman who had flagged for the foul, which had occurred right in front of him. This prompted the referee to issue a straight red to Hamilton.
The Guilsfield players temporarily lost their way as a result of being reduced to 10 men, and Flint took advantage by equalising on 35 minutes. A ball played up to Alan Bull in the penalty area was initially cleared to just outside the box, but Kyle Smyth came running onto it, and smashed it from 24 yards out, straight past Wycherley and into the net.
With the man advantage, it should now have been the visitors in the driving seat having got back on terms, but they were still vulnerable to being attacked down the flanks, and paid the price two minutes before half time, when Bromley got free down the right. His first shot was saved by Bulmer, who again had found himself horribly exposed by his defence, but he was powerless to stop the follow up, as Bromley latched onto the rebound.
So Flint were once again having to chase the game, but at least had the benefit of knowing they had 45 minutes in which to do so, against 10 men. However, they didn't seem to want to fully commit, and all too often kept a backline of four who were marking a solitary striker. In doing so, they weren't able to take full advantage of the extra man they had. Where they did have some success, though, was in playing diagonal long balls from the back, particularly from Hewitt, who was looking to send Bull away at every opportunity. One such ball did the trick on 50 minutes, and Bull raced clear with just Wycherley to beat. The keeper got his fingertips to Bull's shot, and in doing so, managed to divert it onto the post, much to the anguish of the Flint striker.
A lapse in the Flint defence on 55 minutes almost cost the visitors dear, when they let in Cathrall for another free run in on goal. Bulmer came to the rescue once more, pulling off a great reaction save. That save was to be crucial, for just 3 minutes later, a ball over the top once again found Bull. This time it was Jacob Lever who was the provider of the pass. And, faced with his second one on one with Wycherley of the half, Bull made no mistake with this opportunity, as he slotted home. Shortly after, Smyth hit an effort over the bar, as Flint at last tried to put some pressure on the home side's goal with their numerical advantage.
Shaun Beck and new loan signing Alieu Sheriff were sent on for the Silkmen as they sought a decisive third goal, and the latter player made some incisive runs that cut through the home side's backline on a coupe of occasions, but unfortunately, nothing came from his efforts in terms of goalscoring chances.
On 83 minutes, Flint carved out a good chance, when Smyth hit a good shot from wide right in the area, only to see it blocked by Wycherley. The ball spun across the goal, and as Beck looked to get on the end of it and force it over the line, some great last ditch defending by Sam Litchfield denied him the chance, as he cleared the ball in the nick of time.
At the end of a topsy turvy game, both sides will probably be relieved to have taken a point, but perhaps if Flint had been a bit more willing to go on the offensive and gamble with the extra man, they might have ended up coming away with all 3 points, having endured a torrid opening to the game.
Line ups :
Guilsfield - A. Wycherley, C. Bromley, C. Weetman (A. Jenkins 90), S. Rogers, S. Litchfield, R. James (c), J. Cook, A. Ford, A. Hamilton, G. Jones (J. Richards 70), C. Cathrall. Unused Subs - N. Leonard, L. Andrew, D. Barton
Flint Town United - N. Lee-Bulmer, I. Hewitt, A. Brown, C. Rodgers (c), J. Welsh, J. Lever, J. Palmer (M. Cadwallader 87), R. Foulkes, O. Anoruo (A. Sheriff 80), A. Bull (S. Beck 65), K. Smyth. Unused Sub- R. Jones
Guilsfield - Chris Cathrall (6), Callum Bromley (43)
Flint Town United - Kyle Smyth (35), Alan Bull (58)
Guilsfield - Red : Asa Hamilton (28); Yellow : Andy Ford (68)
Flint Town United - Yellow : Richie Foulkes (60), Kyle Smyth (70)
Flint MOM - Nik Lee-Bulmer (kept his side in the game at vital times with some quality shot stopping)