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Sat 04
Ruthin Town
2
-
1
League
Flint Town United
J Culshaw (89' Sent Off), R Foulkes (38')
Below par Flint spurn the opportunity to close the gap on Caernarfon

Below par Flint spurn the opportunity to close the gap on Caernarfon

By Nigel Sheen
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Flint failed to hold onto a one goal lead and literally paid the penalty as they slumped to a disappointing defeat


On the balance of play over the 90 minutes, a draw would probably have been a fair result, but some bizarre referring decisions in the final minutes of the match, by Phil Roszowski, enabled the home side to convert a penalty and secure all 3 points.
Ruthin dominated the opening stages of the match, and almost opened the scoring on 7 minutes following a corner, but Levi Mackin was on hand to clear a goalbound shot off the line. A few minutes later, Jordan McCater beat the offside trap and found himself through on goal, but Ben Jones pulled off a good reaction save save to deny the Ruthin forward.
Flint carved out their first opening on 15 minutes, when Joe Culshaw delivered a dangerous ball into the area, but Mark Cadwallader just failed to get the all important touch which would surely have sent the ball into the back of the net.
The home side were being afforded way too much space int he middle of the park, and this was enabling them to spring forward with dangerous attacking moves, with Pat Hinchcliffe posing a threat whenever he was on the ball.
A 25 yard effort by Llyr Morris flashed just wide of the Flint post on 17 minutes, as Ruthin continued to take the game to their opponents. Indeed, you would have been hard pressed to distinguish which team were down in the relegation zone and which were pushing for second spot in the league, and could have been forgiven that it was the side in black and white that were in the former position and the side in blue that were in the latter, such was the disjointed nature of Flint's play. Fortunately for Flint, John Davies was putting in a good shift at the back, to try and keep a lid on Ruthin's attacking play.
However, he was powerless on 35 minutes, when a good break for the home side saw Morris get clean through on goal, only to be denied by another good save by Ben Jones in the Flint goal.
The Silkmen eventually managed to string together a good series of passes on 37 minutes, which resulted in Culshaw delivering a stinging cross that swung in on goal and forced Ruthin keeper Dylan Jones to palm it out for a corner at his near post. From the resulting corner kick, Stewart Carroll delivered a ball that caused chaos in the home defence, and Richie Foulkes was able to force the ball home on the far post, as Ruthin struggled to clear the danger.
So, despite being second best for large periods of the first half, Flint managed to reach the interval 1-0 up, and as news filtered through that Caernarfon were losing 2-0 at Holyhead, the omens appeared to be good.
Unfortunately, and not for the first time this season, we were unable to protect or build upon the lead, although we did go close on 55 minutes when Foulkes made a good challenge in the middle of the park to win back possession, before hitting a shot from 22 yards that Jones just about managed to tip around his post. But despite having greater possession in the second period, Flint did little with it, and Jones was not seriously troubled again until added on time, by which point Flint were trailing 2-1.
Ruthin equalised on 75 minutes, following a free kick taken by Garmon Hafal. His shot had Ben Jones at full stretch, and he could only succeed in touching it onto the bar, after which it rebounded down into the path of McCarter who hit it into the roof of the net from extremely close range.
The game looked to be heading towards a stalemate, until Mr Roszowski took centre stage in the closing minutes. First of all, he awarded Ruthin a free kick on the edge of the box when what appeared a well judged challenge by Joe Culshaw was deemed a foul. Culshaw, taking exception to this, made his feelings felt towards the referee, and became the second Flint player to be shown a red card for foul and abusive language to an official in as many matches. Whatever the circumstances, there can be no justification for this, and players must simply learn to accept the decision and get on with things, no matter how much they disagree with it. We cannot afford to keep losing key players through silly red cards for ill discipline.
Then, as the clock ticked towards full time, Ruthin substitute Dave Finney broke into the Flint half. Luke Douglas came across to try and intercept the loose ball before Finney could get to it, and the Ruthin player clearly clipped his heels, sending him off balance. Incredibly, play was waved on, with both referee and linesman seemingly oblivious to the foul that had been committed. Finney race onto into the area, and was tracked by Chris Roberts, who used his physical strength to out muscle Finney and get in what appeared to be a typically robust centre half challenge as he levered the Ruthin player off the ball. But Mr Roszowski pointed to the spot to the dismay of the Flint players and fans, and Morris stepped up to send Jones the wrong way and send Ruthin into the lead.
The match official then decided to add on an inordinate amount of stoppage time, during which Flint went close to grabbing an equaliser, as they forced several corners. A blatant handball inside the area by the home side went unpunished, during a scramble from one such corner, before Caroll smashed a shot against the bar, the rebound falling to the onrushing Roberts, but he could only direct his effort into the midriff of Jones. Following his collection of the ball from another corner, deep into added on time, Jones appeared to take a step back across his goal line, under pressure from several Flint players, but was given the benefit of the doubt by the match officials.
Whatever the rights and wrongs of the closing moments to the game, the fact of the matter is that Flint should never have put themselves in a position where they could lose such a game, having gone in front, and in the final reckoning for runners up position in the table, they may be left ruing just how they let a winning position turn into such a defeat.

Line Ups :
Ruthin Town - D. Jones, M. Evans, J. Newell, W. Ashley, K. Evans, O. Davies, P. Hinchcliffe (D. Finney 72), G. Hafal, J. McCarter, T. Sharples (W. Owen 60), L. Morris (L Humphries 90+4). Unused Subs - C. Williams, C. Wilkinson
Flint Town United - B. Jones, I. Hewitt, J. Culshaw, L. Mackin (A. Edgar 82), J. Davies (L. Douglas 85), C. Roberts , S. Carroll, R. Foulkes, M. Cadwallader (c) (L. Tyson 78), A. Brown, K. Smyth. Unused Subs - D. McAdam (GK), J. Hill

Goalscorers -
Ruthin Town - Jordan McCarter (75), Llyr Morris (90 pen)
Flint Town United - Richie Foulkes (38)

Cards :
Ruthin Town - Red : none; Yellow : Pat Hinchcliffe (47), Jak Newell (90+1)
Flint Town United - Red : Joe Culshaw (89); Yellow : Richie Foulkes (2), Andy Brown (72)

Flint MOM - John Davies (one of the few Flint players to perform anywhere near his usual standard, and his loss through injury with 5 minutes to go may have proved crucial to the final outcome of the game)

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Match details

Match date

Sat 04, Feb 2017

Kickoff

14:00

Attendance

84

Competition

Huws Gray Alliance

League position

3
Flint Town United
15
Ruthin Town
John Davies

Player of the match

John Davies