Ruthin Town 1 Flint Town United 1
10 man resistance
Football is the only major sport in the world that is predominantly played with the feet. As a result there is a high level of skill involved in the playing of the sport. But it is not all about skill. There are many factors that make up a good team of footballers.
These other factors, as well as a high level of skill, were demonstrated by Ruthin Town on Saturday. Faced with a good strong Flint Town United side, who were pushing for second place, Ruthin faced adversity full in the face and stood up to the test.
The home team started the better of the two sides and looked every bit as good as their visitors as they pressed the Flint defence with Flint looking dangerous on the break. Ruthin almost took the lead on 5 minutes when a free kick found Gwidion Ifan free 6 yards out only for his shot to go straight at goalkeeper Aaron Jones. Ruthin looked comfortable during the early stages but on 11 minutes Flint forward Andy Brown broke through and was bearing down on goal. He was tracked by centre back Tom Dyer who was having a good game. As the forward lost control of the ball Tom missed his tackle and fouled his opponent as the ball trickled towards Ryan Goldston in the Ruthin goal. As Tom was the last man the referee had a decision to make. It was a foul, but was it a goal scoring opportunity? Had the opportunity gone before the foul was committed? You can guess which way the Ruthin faithful were thinking, but sadly not the referee – red card, Tom off.
Let’s face it Flint are a good side. They have been pushing at the top of what is a very good league all season and they now had a real opportunity to take second place with three points. The Ruthin management, faced with 79 minutes with 10 men, had decisions to make. Chris Williams made a brave decision and put young right back Dafydd Evans at centre back with Gwidion Ifan coming back to right back. The move worked as Ruthin, seemingly unmoved at being reduced to ten men, continued to play the better football.
Flint on the other hand didn't take advantage of their situation and were limited to playing the long ball up to target man Andy Brown. These were often over hit, or when they did hit the target, there was no-one within 20 yards of him to get on the end of the knock down, leaving Kevin Evans to sweep up. On 23 minutes Ruthin had another chance when Tom Williams ghosted in from the right to reach a diagonal ball. Jones came out to meet him and Tom hit his shot through the Flint keeper's legs but into the side netting. Then Ryan Jones demonstrated good ball control to jink his way into the box, before hitting his effort just wide.
Ruthin continued to play their passing game, moving the ball through midfield and restricting Flint to few chances and creating chances of their own. The game was certainly more of a contest than the Flint dug out were happy with. They were even less happy when Gwidion Ifan drove into the penalty area and was blocked by a combination of Jake Hampson and Brandon Burrows. Again this was a touch and go decision. It was in the penalty area but was it a foul? You can guess what the Flint dugout were thinking, but not the referee, who awarded a penalty. In view of our penalty record this season this was not a foregone conclusion. Up steps captain Ilan Hughes who’s shot went firmly to the keeper’s left. 1-0 with a few minutes of the half left, game on.
With a lead to hang on to you would expect ten men to defend deep with two banks of four and try to see out the game. Ruthin would have expected Flint to come out firing in the second half and the away side did everything they could to get back into the game. They adopted a different formation with Brown moving out to the left flank and Hampson high up on the right as they sought to make the extra man count. Their central midfielders also pushed forward more. Flint had a chance when Ged Kinsella won the ball and passed to Mark Cadwallader. The Flint forward controlled it on his chest then hit a crisp shot that forced Ryan into his first serious save of the game. For a period the Silkmen started to look a more dangerous outfit but Ruthin continued to work hard harassed and hassled their opponents, gained possession and played football of their own, they certainly did not sit back.
On the hour mark, Flint’s Richie Foulkes got his head to a corner from close range, but his effort clipped the top of the bar but the warning signs were there. The equaliser arrived a few minutes later when from another corner Brown rose highest in a crowded box to head in a powerful header at the far post. It was going to be a difficult 20 minutes for the home side. Once again they were going to need more than just skill.
The pitch stood up well to very wet conditions but it was getting heavier and heavier making it harder for ten men compete, but compete they did. Ryan Goldston in the Ruthin goal had another good game claiming crosses with good hands. At the other end Ruthin had opportunities and had good spells of possession. Tom Williams again went close as he met a deep cross from Tom Roberts but his volley at the far post hit the side netting.
Both sides continued to try and win the game, half chances were created at either end and if anything Ruthin may have been guilty of over committing. Flint in turn also wanted to win the game and as the clock was running down, with both sides feeling the effects of a tough game, Flint had one more chance to take all the points. Luke Blondell picked up the ball in midfield and hit a shot from 20 yards which looked goal bound only for the ball to hit the bar. Ryan Goldston gratefully receiving the ball which landed in his arms.
Ruthin should be proud of the way they played and the way they worked to gain a very hard earned point which was well deserved.