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Sat 14
Caernarfon Town
Flint Town United
P Clarke (68' Sent Off), S Carroll (90')
Flint make Caernarfon work hard to complete their League & Cup double

Flint make Caernarfon work hard to complete their League & Cup double

By Nigel Sheen
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Although they went into this match as firm underdogs, Flint made their opponents work every inch of the way, as they put in a spirited performance.

But for a couple of controversial refereeing decisions which decidedly counted against them, the Silkmen could even have emerged from the game with more than their Runners Up medals.
Aden Shannon sprang a bit of a surprise in his starting line up, with Russ Courtney operating up front alongside young Joe Palmer, and Johnny Hill moving across to centre back to partner Jon Davies. This was designed to give Flint a more physical presence up front, against the imposing pairing of Edwards and Austin at the heart of the Caernarfon defence.
Flint had obviously been instructed to keep things tight in the opening stages, and they successfully contained the Canaries in the opening quarter of an hour restricting them to long range efforts on Ross Dalton's goal. Just as it looked like Flint were settling comfortably into their game plan, an uncharacteristic mistake by Johnny Hill led to the opening goal on 16 minutes. A ball was played in behind the Flint defence, but there seemed to be no real danger as Hill was first to react and reached the ball first facing his own goal. But instead of just playing the ball out to safety, he beckoned Dalton to come and collect it, but the distance for the Flint keeper was to great to make up, as he saw Danny Brockwell closing in on Hill. As Hill dwelt on the ball, Brockwell dispossessed him, and raced through on goal to slide the ball past Dalton. This was a real hammer blow to Flint, who up to tha point had looked reasonably comfortable at the back.
They took a little while to clear their heads and regain their composure, during which time the excellent Toby Jones was causing havoc down the right flank, and his crosses created a few half chances, that his side were unable to take, with the Flint defence at times being stretched to full capacity. Indeed the battle between Jones and Flint's Joe Culshaw was one of the highlights of the game, as it ebbed and flowed, with first one and then the other gaining the upper hand in their personal duel.
During this period, referee Tom Williams did little to endear himself to the Flint supporters, as a series of 50:50 calls almost always seemed to go in favour of Caernarfon, so much so, that there was much ironic cheering when a decision did eventually bring about a black and white free kick. Unfortunately, this was the foretaste of worse to come in the second half for the Flint supporters and playing staff, as the man in the middle was to leave his stamp firmly on the game.
As the game reached the half hour mark, Flint created their first serious effort on their opponent's goal, which very nearly brought about the equaliser. The lively Kyle Smyth produced a quick ball across the face of the 6 yard box, from the right. Palmer reacted quickest and made good contact, but keeper Paul Pritchard threw himself across his line, and blocked Palmer's effort with his body.
This heralded a great passage of possession for Flint as they sought a way back into the match. Paul McManus, as ever was running tirelessly across the middle of the park, and Steve Cunningham was doing an excellent job in shielding his central defenders. Abe Dobson let fly with 25 yard effort, when he found himself in space, only to see it finish just wide of the target.
Then, Courtney released Smyth, who managed to break clear of his markers, before hitting a rising shot that just cleared the bar.
As half time approached, Flint had a let off, when dangerman Jones for once escaped the attentions of Culshaw, and delivered a dangerous cross that the defence struggled to clear, as the ball bounced around like a pin ball in the 18 yard box. Eventually, it found its way into the path of Clive Williams, some 30 yards out, who cracked a great effort that struck the Flint bar.
Into the second half, and the pattern of play developed into Flint pressing hard, to try and force the equaliser, but Caernarfon always being dangerous on the counter and especially down both flanks.
On 55 minutes, a Caernarfon inswinging corner seemed to elude everyone and be destined for the corner of the net, until the alert Culshaw made sure he cleared the danger. Culshaw was now finding himself being deployed in a much more advanced capacity down the left, as Flint increasingly took the game to their opponents, pressing hard on the defence hoping to force an error.
McManus had an effort on 64 minutes, following a corner, that just cleared the bar.
Just four minutes later, the rug was pulled from under Flint's feet, when a challenge by Phil Clarke was deemed worthy of a straight red by referee Williams. Although the challenge was undoubtedly a foul, and worthy of a booking, it was definitely not reckless or out of control. That it took place near the bye-line and in front of a large section of Caernarfon supporters, may have played some part in making up the referee's mind, as they predictably clamoured for the red card to be produced.
At this point in the game, Flint had been very much in the ascendancy, and their task which was already difficult enough, now became nigh on impossible.
To their credit, though they continued to press, although now, they were even more exposed to the counter, especially down the Caernarfon left flank.
Smyth hit a speculative shot on 73 minutes, that Pritchard spilled, before collecting. Then a few minutes later, a glorious chance of an equaliser was spurned. A ball was threaded through to Palmer who found himself in space and with only the keeper to bear from 12 yards out. But he fluffed his lines, and his shot lacked conviction, as Pritchard gratefully collected it.
With just over 10 minutes to go, McManus battled his way into the box, then appeared to be knocked off his feet as he tried to get a shot on goal. Added to this, there looked to be a handball offence by one of the Caernarfon defenders as the ball was knocked out for a corner.Once again, referee Williams infuriated the Flint fans and coaching staff as he waved play on.
From the resulting corner, Courtney put in a powerful header that Pritchard just about clawed out from under the bar. Unfortunately, no Flint players were following up to tap the loose ball home, as it spilled from Pritchard's hands.
The Canaries doubled their lead on 83 minutes, when a fine cross-field ball exploited the space on the Flint right. Brockwell collected the ball, and tried to get past Hill, who was having to cover. Hill appeared to be losing the battle, and tugged back Brockwell as he raced into the box. This time the referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot, and Nathan Craig calmly dispatched the spot kick.
After this latest setback, Flint rallied once more, and right on full time grabbed a much deserved consolation goal. Aden Shannon chased the ball down the right flank, before delivering it across into the box. The ball was half cleared to Stewart Carroll, who caught it sweetly on the volley, to send it crashing into the Caernarfon net from 25 yards, despite the best efforts of Pritchard, who managed to get hands to it, but couldn't keep it out. It's just a shame that it wasn't a match winner rather than a consolation effort, such was the quality of the strike. But it was the least Flint deserved after putting in a gallant display. A combination of a lack of composure in front of goal and a couple of controversial refereeing decisions that went against us, meant we once again finished as runners up in a competition we have yet to win.
Before signing off I would like to extend my thanks to Will Price for standing in on those occasions I haven't been able to attend games, and to Graham George and Paul Collins for enlivening the match reports with their photos. And a final thanks to the coaching staff of Aden Shannon and Dave Abraham for taking all of the match reports on the chin, even when some of them may have been less than complementary. These guys have a hard enough job, and at times reading a negative match report might be hard to take, but they have never complained, and have just got on with it. Until next season ....

Line Ups :
Caernarfon Town - P. Pritchard, J. Williams, N. Craig, G. Edwards, G. Austin (c), C. Williams, R. Jones (G. Jones-Evans 75), J. Gibbs (K. Roberts 90), J. Breese (K. Lloyd 84), T. Jones, D. Brockwell. Unused Subs - T. Taylor, C. Owen
Flint Town United - R. Dalton, J. Hill, J. Culshaw, S. Cunningham, R, Courtney (L. Randles 80) , J. Davies, A. Dobson (S. Carroll 70), P. Clarke, J. Palmer (A. Shannon 80), P. McManus (c), K. Smyth. Unused Subs - P. Martin, E. Quinlan (GK), P. Djan, A. Goundrey

Goalscorers :
Caernarfon Town - D. Brockwell (16), N. Craig (83)
Flint Town United - S. Carroll (90)

Cards :
Caernarfon Town - Yellow : N. Craig (52), R. Jones (63), G. Austin (65)
Flint Town United - Yellow : S. Cunningham (25). J. Hill (83); Red - P. Clarke (68)

Flint MOM - Joe Culshaw (had a tremendous duel with Toby Jones and was back to his best)

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Match details

Match date

Sat 14, May 2016


Joe Culshaw

Player of the match

Joe Culshaw