22nd November 2014 – Cymru Alliance
With Holywell venturing down into deepest Mid-Wales for their away cup game against Tywyn-Bryncrug in the FAW Trophy, and myself not being able to travel the approximately 2 hours down there, it left me looking for another game to occupy me on the Saturday afternoon. After some scouting of the local fixtures, with options such as Rhyl, Llandudno and Witton Albion being available, the choice was made to go to Cae-y-Castell to see Flint Town United take on Denbigh Town in a “Shire Derby”. Considering the ground is only a 10 minute drive from my house, and my friend Greg lives “off” Flint (plus he couldn’t be bothered travelling too far due to working that morning..pffft a poor excuse ha!), it was an easy and obvious choice to make.
I have been to Cae-y-Castell before so this was not a new ground to add to the list, however I hadn’t been there for many years so it would be interesting to see how the ground had developed from my last visit and also to see the playing standard of the Flint team. They were going well in the Cymru Alliance and were coming up against a Denbigh side who were just a point and position above them in the table, so I was expecting a close game between two teams who were expecting a top half finish this season. As a Holywell Town fan, I was going into this match with no favourites and a complete neutral considering the historic rivalry between The Silkmen and The Wellmen, and also the recent rivalry between Denbigh & Holywell in the Welsh Alliance League the previous seasons (last season still pains me!). I was wondering whether it was possible for BOTH TEAMS to lose??? Haha! In all serious though, I was intrigued to see the playing standard of both teams this season and looking forward to a good derby game (Flintshire versus Denbighshire).
We parked up in the public car park just by the RNLI lifeboat station, which is overlooked by the picturesque ruins of Flint Castle and shows great views across the Dee Estuary to the Wirral peninsula. If you have any free time before your visit to Flint Town United, I would strongly encourage you to take a visit to the Castle as it’s free entry and worth very interesting, especially if you like architecture/history or just for the landscape. The car park is only a short walk to the ground and is also next to the social club that both the town’s football and rugby clubs use. Currently it is free parking although there is discussion from the county council that they could start charging for parking yet again, so be aware if you visit here in the future! To get to the ground, walk past the social club and follow the path/road, with the rugby pitch to the left of you, and you should see the ground ahead of you.
Entry to the ground cost me £5, which is about the average cost for matches I have visited this season and is a very reasonable price in my humble opinion! I also bought the club’s programme at the turnstile which cost £1.50 and was full of information about both teams, as well as results from other national and local leagues that I really impressed with! The ground itself is very impressive for the Welsh leagues and has clearly had some major investment. The main stand is situated on the entrance side of the pitch and has the main toilet block, as well as snack bar and entrance tunnel as the changing rooms are situated underneath the stand. It has roughly 400 seats which are all covered, decked out in the black & white stripes of Flint and are raised to give the supporter a better overall view of the pitch. In one of the corners is located a small stand which provides additional seating, but strangely in blue seats. Opposite to the main stand on the other side of the pitch are the TV camera gantry, and two smaller covered stands which house an additional 300 odd black and white seats a piece either side of the gantry. The ground is full enclosed by a surrounding wall which gives the ground a more intense and compact atmosphere even though the ground has plenty of room for any potential improvements in the future.
Prior to the game, we decided to try out the cuisine that was on offer at the snack bar. The menu had a good selection of hot and cold foods to choose from, as well as sweets and chocolate snacks for children there and they were all at good prices. The volunteers working the snack bar were very friendly and welcoming despite us taking forever to choose what we wanted. Finally after much deliberation, Greg decided upon a cheeseburger for £2.00 whilst I went for less healthier bacon cheeseburger option for the cheap price of £2.40! I also bought a bottle of water for 60p to bring my food/drink spending to just £3! Bargain!! Although cups of teas were available there for £1, I found the water to be better value for money as the cups looked a bit small for £1 in comparison with other clubs I have visited in the past who were charging a similar price for tea. Should you visit Flint I would highly recommend the bacon cheeseburger there as it was absolutely delicious and well worth the money, and Greg seemed to be content with his cheeseburger also. Once food was consumed, we took to our seats in the main stand, a few rows up from the front and just behind the home dugout and to get a great view of the pitch.
The first half started with neither side being able to take early control of the match with possession fluctuating between the two teams. The home side started to get an increasing amount of possession and combination of passes together, but were unable to craft any meaningful chances to test the Denbigh defence. This was to be punished by the visiting team when on the 24th minute they took the lead. Flint’s Abraham conceded possession in midfield which allowed Denbigh to stream forward and fire twice at the goal, with Flint’s defender Camden coming to his side’s rescue by blocking the shot on both occasions. However the ball rebounded kindly to Andrew Swarbrick on the edge of the area, which allowed for him to lash it into the top corner. It was really poor defending from the home side as they had plenty of players back defending but were slow to react from Camden’s blocks and failed to clear their lines.
After going a goal down, Flint attempted to get an equaliser and came close twice to finding it. On 38 minutes Gareth Roberts tried to guide a Jordan Beck cross into the net, only for it be blocked and put out for a corner. A couple of minutes later, Roberts had a better chance to make amends as he was put through on a one-on-one chance with Denbigh’s goalkeeper. However he somehow failed to convert his golden chance for a goal by blazing his shot over the bar much to the annoyance of himself and the home supporters. Yet again Flint would be punished for their attacking bluntness and haphazard defending as they gave Denbigh an early Christmas present in the first half injury time.
After a non-threatening low cross from the visitors and under no pressure from the opposing forwards, Flint’s goalkeeper Richie Walker called to take the ball. Strangely he failed to control it properly either through a rogue pitch bobble, or he took his eye off the ball for one moment, as the ball dribbled beneath his foot and found its way to the far post. Flint’s Peter Doran had the simple chance to clear the ball away from danger but he hesitated and fumbled which allowed Warren Duckett to nip past him and prod the ball into the empty net. Great poaching from Duckett to convert a “lost cause” but shocking defending (one for Alan Hansen there) was the root cause to a goal which should never have happened. Denbigh went into the break with a 2-0 half time advantage.
HALF TIME – FLINT TOWN UNITED 0 – 2 DENBIGH TOWN
At half time, we had a look around the ground to see what else was located within it. In one of the corners of the ground was a small enclosed pitch where the kids were playing football during the break period. There was also a portakabin next to the main stand which seemed to be the club shop. I didn’t see it initially as it was hidden behind the stand as you come into the ground, so I don’t know if it was open prior to the match starting. Alas when I found the place, it was locked up so I am still none the wiser whether it had been opened beforehand or not at all. I was a little disappointed with that as I was hoping for the opportunity to potentially buy something from there i.e. a fridge magnet and/or club crest mug to add to the collection (of course)!! If someone from Flint Town United could let me know if you do have club mugs for sale, I would be very interested in buying one!
Before the second half commenced, we moved over to the other side of the pitch and sat in one of the smaller stands beside the TV gantry, which was currently empty of supporters. The stands on this side of the ground are not raised like the main stand and are situated at pitch level and therefore a lot closer to the action!
Denbigh were more awake at the start of the second half and took full advantage of Flint lack of organisation and defensive frailties from the whistle. Yet again the Silkmen gave away ball possession far too cheaply with Okijemi and then Doran committing the cardinal offence. With the ball, Denbigh used the effective through ball to full effect once again to release the clinical Swarbrick who outpaced Camden to surge through on goal. The Flint ‘keeper Walker managed to block the initial chance but the luck of the bounce was against the home side as it rebounded kindly to Swarbrick who made no mistake with his follow-up shot to grab his second and Denbigh’s third of the afternoon.
Flint’s manager Timmy Williams made a tactical change when he switched to a back three in an attempt to claw their way back into the game. Unfortunately the tactical switch did not benefit Flint as it was Denbigh who continued to pose the greater threat on the counter attack. With defender Doran being pushed up further into midfield as part of Flint’s new tactics, it allowed Kristian Pierce to effectively utilise the extra space gifted to him. With the through ball being applied again, Pierce went clear towards but could only place his effort wide of the post. Pierce got into the same situation again after some lax Flint defending sent the player clear once more but this time saw his effort rebound off the woodwork as Denbigh were looking to completely end the game. Had Pierce’s finishing been more accurate in front of goal, the scoreline could have become embarrassing for the hosts and damaging for their goal difference in the league. Flint weren’t helped throughout the second half by their stuttering attack which rarely troubled the Denbigh defence that was superbly marshalled by former Flint player Nathan Peate and his brother Max.
The Denbigh defence weren’t troubled until the final 6 minutes when they seem to lose concentration and failed to deal with a long, low driven free kick taken by Ieuan Hewitt. The cross was connected by John Davies who managed to swing a foot and direct it into the corner of the visitors’ net. The goal may have been against the run of play but gave the Silkmen a boost in confidence and some added impetus for a potential late comeback, whilst Denbigh were looking to hold onto their lead. Then on 89th minute the comeback was made more likely when after another Flint attack, Max Peate conceded a penalty after he fouled Gareth Roberts just inside the box. Stewart Carroll stepped up to dispatch the spot kick and make it a nervy few minutes for the visitors but determined for the hosts. Flint had another half chance right at that death that could have completed the comeback if converted but in the end Denbigh just held on and grabbed the three points.
FULL TIME – FLINT TOWN UNITED 2 – 3 DENBIGH TOWN
Overall I enjoyed the “Shire Derby” between Denbigh and Flint, and I was especially impressed with the standard Denbigh were playing at. Denbigh could have easily gotten more than the three goals they got on the day had they converted a few of their one-on-one chances and it would have been incredibly unfair on them had they dropped any points from a dominate position. Saying that their defence switched off allowing the home side to come back into the game and Flint could have well nicked it right at the end as the momentum was certainly in their favour. Flint’s defence were shocking throughout the game, being repeatedly caught out by the pace of the Denbigh forward line. Saying that it took great team spirit and determination to come back into the game and almost overcome the huge deficit, and they should be highly commended for that effort. The villain of the match however was the referee as numerous questionable decisions went against the home side which evoked the rage from the home players, management and supporters alike. He didn’t endear himself to the visiting team as some of his decisions in the second half were suspect and left Denbigh’s management nonplussed with the official. In the end he gave out 9 bookings with many of them harsh to say the least!
As stated previously the ground itself is impressive for this level of Welsh football due to the impressive facilities and numerous covered seats, and would not look out of place in the Welsh Premier League if Flint get promotion in the next few seasons. In a great location with reasonable prices, it is a must-visit ground for any Welsh football supporter to visit…..and coming from a Holywell Town fan, that’s a huge compliment!! 😉
Flint Town United’s match report:
Denbigh Town’s match report: