HOLYWELL TOWN 2 – 1 FLINT TOWN UNITED

Cymru Alliance – 2nd September 2015

Halkyn Road, Holywell, Flintshire

Attendance: 501

  • Entrance: £5.00; Programme: £1.50

Ever since Holywell Town achieved promotion back to the Cymru Alliance, there were two fixtures every Wellman supporter was eager to view when the league schedule was announced. After a long nine season hiatus, the rivalry between fierce rivals Flint Town United would recommence, and so the first two fixtures searched for would be the potential battles at Halkyn Road and Cae-y-Castell. This match would be the first fixture of the season between the rivals with the tie being played at Halkyn Road played in early September, and the reverse fixture played during the Christmas period.

Naturally I was looking forward to this game ever since the season started, and it would appear at a perfect week for me personally. The bank holiday weekend prior to this game saw two of my closest friends get married to each other (congratulations again Aron & Elan!!), as well as seeing Wales potentially qualify for their first European Championships later on in the week (Eden Hazard would subsequently mess that one up for us until October….). Still feeling jubilant from the weekend’s celebrations, I was in confident mood going into the game, especially as Holywell’s previous performances had been encouraging despite not getting a win on the board so far in the season. A win against their local rivals on this September evening would be perfect springboard to push onwards, using that confidence to make some strides in the Cymru Alliance. However Flint would be going into the game thinking the same thing…

As I never really wrote about the history of my home town and club in my earlier blog, here is some information on both, as well as the history of the rivalry between the two clubs.

[By the way, if anyone can think of a name for the rivalry between the two clubs, I would like to hear suggestions. The “Flintshire Classic” is one off the top of my head but would like see what other ideas people have.]

BRIEF HISTORY OF HOLYWELL

Holywell (Welsh: Treffynnon) is Flintshire’s fifth biggest town in the county with a population of just under 8,900 people, and the market town is situated in the north-west of the border county near to the River Dee estuary. It is located to the east 11 miles down the North Wales coast from Prestatyn, 9,5 miles north-west of county capital Mold, and crucially just 5 miles north-west of the nearest and traditional rival town of Flint. It also has great access to the main North Walian infrastructure artery of the A55 Expressway, with the dual carriageway just bypassing the town.

The High Street of Holywell, with the town clock in the background. [Taken from http://www.holywell-town.gov.uk/]
The High Street of Holywell, with the town clock in the background.
[Taken from http://www.holywell-town.gov.uk/ ]
The name of Holywell originates from the famous holy well of Saint Winefride’s Well, which has been known about since the Roman times, and has been a major site of Christian pilgrimage since the middle of the 7th century. It originates from Saint Winefride who, according to legend, was beheaded by a local prince who tried to force himself on her. It is said that where her detached head landed, a spring rose from the ground and is the location of the well today. The well is one of the Seven Wonders of Wales (as mentioned in my Gresford blog) and is a site of continuous pilgrimage due to the supposed healing powers of its waters over the centuries. Because of its healing waters, Holywell has the nickname of “The Lourdes of Wales” in reference to the French town which also has healing powers in its spring water.

St. Winefried's Well [Taken from http://www.holywell-town.gov.uk/]
St. Winefride’s Well
[Taken from http://www.holywell-town.gov.uk/ ]
Holywell became an important town in the 18th century due to its cotton, lead and copper mills harnessing the power of the steady flow of the Holywell Stream flowing from Halkyn Mountain, to power their industry – becoming one of the first locations in the world to use water power in the industrial revolution. The wealth generated by such industry lead to the development of the town and the construction of the Georgian buildings in the High Street, many of which still exist in the high street today. With so much wealth and industry happening in the town, many workers flocked to find jobs and it would become one of the biggest and wealthiest towns in North Wales.

Ruins of mills in the Greenfield Valley [Taken from http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/3842532]
Ruins of mills in the Greenfield Valley
[Taken from http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/3842532 ]
Alas the grandeur of the town has faded considerably since the closure of the mills in the Greenfield Valley complex, and today the town has evolved into a commuter town for people working in the Deeside Enterprise Zone or Chester, like many other towns in the locality. The town also does not have a train station, with the closest stations being situated in either Flint or Prestatyn. However the town is trying hard to encourage tourism back into the area through events in the high street such as the Well Inn music festival. In addition to this, the town is embracing and promoting its religious and industrial past in conjunction with the nature and environment of the local area, including the Greenfield Valley complex, to bring tourists into area. Plus there is extensive and regular bus links between the train stations to allow visitors to reach the town easily.

BRIEF HISTORY OF HOLYWELL TOWN

The Holywell Town badge
The Holywell Town badge

There are records of football being played in Holywell since 1893, with the first team of the town, Holywell F.C, becoming founding members of the North Wales Coast League, which would be the precursor to the Welsh League (North). Throughout the decades, there has been Holywell United and the fantastically named Holywell Arcadians until the current team of Holywell Town was established by returning World War 2 soldiers in 1946, who established their base at Halkyn Road – the ground which is still used by The Wellmen today. The newly reformed club would enjoy instant success by first joining the Welsh League (North) in the 1949-50 season and then winning the league three seasons later.

Holywell Arcadians [Taken from the Holywell Town Wikipedia Page]

Holywell Town has also been pioneers in Welsh football, being founding members of the Cymru Alliance and then the League of Wales (later to become the Welsh Premier League) – a trait in-keeping with Holywell F.C. They enjoyed some moderate success in the mid-90s achieving 6th and 5th place finishes in the top flight between 1992 and 1994, however they were relegated back to the Cymru Alliance in 1997. Even though they returned back for one season in the 1998-99 season, they quickly returned back to the Cymru Alliance and would subsequently be relegated down to the third tier of Welsh football in the 2005-06 season languishing in the Welsh Alliance for nine seasons.

Holywell Town in their League of Wales days.

However Holywell Town are currently enjoying a renaissance and probably their most successful period in their history. It all started in the 2010-11 season when they came back from a two goal deficit against Conwy United (now Conwy Borough) to score three times in 5 minutes to win their first FAW Trophy (and inspire a certain blog’s name….). This was followed up with four consecutive top three finishes in the league and a world-famous Welsh Cup run, when they became the first third-tier team to reach the semi-finals in the national cup’s illustrious history.

The 2011 FAW Trophy victory [Picture taken from Holywell Town website]

However the big prize of promotion still eluded them, that was until last season when, under the management of local lad Johnny Haseldin, they won 23 games from 26 played amassing 119 goals and a goal difference of +100 to finally achieve promotion back to the Cymru Alliance. It would be retribution of Haseldin who had been part of the Holywell side that had been relegated from the Cymru Alliance. Last season was also a special season as they achieved an historic treble, winning the Mawddach Challenge Cup against Llanrug United, and the FAW Trophy for the second time again Penrhyndeudraeth, together with capturing the Welsh Alliance Division 1 title.

Holywell Town are the 2014-15 FAW Trophy winners!!!
Holywell Town are the 2014-15 FAW Trophy winners!!!
The Mawddach Cup winners
The Mawddach Cup winners
Holywell lifting the Welsh Alliance trophy on the May Day Bank Holiday
Holywell lifting the Welsh Alliance trophy on the May Day Bank Holiday

HALKYN ROAD

Location of Halkyn Road in Holywell
Location of Halkyn Road in Holywell

Holywell Town’s ground is Halkyn Road, and it is located in the south-east of the town behind the newly built cottage hospital. It is considerably close to the town centre, being only a 5-10 minute walk up Halkyn Road from the town’s high street. For those driving to the ground, there is limited parking inside the ground although there is a large free car park opposite the entrance to the cottage hospital which can be used by visiting supporters on match day also.

The main stand at Holywell
The main stand at Holywell – taken in my previous blog

As mentioned in my previous blog about Holywell, the ground has one large covered main stand which runs down the hospital side of the pitch (with seating for about 150-200 people and standing for another 150-200), with the newly built clubhouse at the end of the stand that sells refreshments and hot food for fans. The club has concrete paths running around the pitch, so accessibility is good for disabled supporters who are visiting. Also the ground has floodlights which enable evening games to take place, like the one I would be visiting on this occasion.

The new clubhouse at Holywell
The clubhouse at Holywell

There has been a couple of ground improvements since my initial blog last season with the club now installing green security fences around the perimeter of the ground, as well as installing a turnstile hut where supporters pay for entry, as well as buying programmes.

BRIEF HISTORY OF THE RIVALRY

It may be surprising to many people reading this blog but the Holywell-Flint (or Flint-Holywell if you’re “off” Flint) rivalry is one of the oldest in North Welsh football. In addition to the close proximity of the old towns which naturally has created a historic rivalry which has existed for centuries, both towns had founding member teams in the North Wales Coast League. In the first season of the league in 1893-94, Fflint F.C. (Fflint being the Welsh name of Flint) were the inaugural, undefeated champions whilst Holywell F.C. could only manage 4th position. Fflint would continue to outperform Holywell with two consecutive runners-up finishes and a 3rd place whilst Holywell could only finish in 5th position on all three occasions before Fflint disappeared from the league in the 1897-98 season.

Fflint F.C. becoming the inaugural North Welsh Coast League champions...and thus the rivalry began! [Taken from the Welsh Football Data Archive]
Fflint F.C. becoming the inaugural North Welsh Coast League champions…and thus the rivalry began!
[Taken from the Welsh Football Data Archive]
The rivalry would continue in the Welsh League (North) when both teams (under their current guises) would play against each other once more. Despite the Silkmen achieving two runners-up positions, it would be Holywell who would win the league first in the 1952-53 pipping their local rivals Fflint Town United by just three points to claim the championship. However Fflint would have their revenge when they beat Holywell in the Fourth Round on their route to winning their only Welsh Cup victory in 1954, when they beat Chester 2-1 in front of nearly 16,000 people at the Racecourse Ground in Wrexham. Plus they would finally win the Welsh League (North) in the 1954-55 season, this time condemning Holywell Town to the runners-up spot, and would go on to win the league three seasons in a row. Holywell would then finish higher than Fflint in every league campaign from the 1957-58 season onwards until both teams disappeared from the league in the 1966-67 season.

Flint Town United's Welsh Cup winning team of 1953-54. [Used with kind permission from Welsh Football Data Archive http://wfda.co.uk/wfda_photo.php?id=67]
Flint Town United’s Welsh Cup winning team of 1953-54.
[Used with kind permission from Welsh Football Data Archive http://wfda.co.uk/wfda_photo.php?id=67]
The two teams would continue their rivalry in the top division of the Clwyd League, with Flint Town United being a founding member of the Clwyd League back in the mid-1970s, and then onto the Welsh Alliance League in the late 1980s, with Flint winning the league in 1988-89 season. Flint Town United would also win the inaugural Cymru Alliance title in 1990-91 season (with Holywell Town finishing 9th out of 14 teams and even behind local team Mostyn F.C.) after both teams became founding members of the northern league.

The first season of the Cymru Alliance [Taken from the Welsh Football Data Archive]
The first season of the Cymru Alliance where Flint Town United were champions
[Taken from the Welsh Football Data Archive]
Both teams would eventually become founding members of the League of Wales (later to become the Welsh Premier League) and despite Flint being the better side prior to the national league’s creation, Holywell would cope with the new league much more successfully in the debut season. The Wellmen would finish in 6th position whilst Flint could only manage 16th spot. However in the following season Flint would surpass their rivals finishing 4th, one position and two points better off than their rival, then finishing 6th and 5th in the next two seasons compared to Holywell’s 8th and 16th place finishes. Holywell would also be the first team of the two to be relegated from the League of Wales, getting relegated in the 1996-97 season although Flint would share their fate falling down to the Cymru Alliance in the following season. Holywell would briefly reappear in the top league in the 1998-99 season, but disappointingly neither team has reappeared in the top flight since then.

The Flint Town United badge
The Flint Town United badge

Both Holywell and Flint would then compete in the Cymru Alliance in the early part of the 21st century, with Flint performing more successfully in the league than Holywell overall during that period, although neither side appearing to seriously challenge for promotion. Eventually the rivalry would be suspended when Holywell Town finally dropped down to the third-tier Welsh Alliance after finishing second-to-bottom in the 2005-06 season. The last competitive match between the two teams resulted in a 1-1 draw when Flint scored a late equaliser at Halkyn Road through Shaun Beck (now at Greenfield) to share the points, in a season where they finished 3rd in the league.

CURRENT FORM

This season in the second-tier Cymru Alliance has been a tough start for the promoted team with the ‘fixtures computer’ not being kind to the Wellmen. Holywell started their campaign at home against pre-season league favourites Caernarfon Town, managing a very credible 0-0 draw and producing an impressive performance especially in the second half. The new additions of Dan Drazudkas (brought in from Mold Alex) and “The Beast” Steve Lewis (brought in from WPL newboys Llandudno F.C.) particularly impressing the Halkyn Road faithful. Their second game saw them lose to another championship contender in Cefn Druids, losing 1-2 away at The Rock – again producing a spirited second half performance. Their previous game to this one saw them disappointingly draw 1-1 away to Conwy Borough, when a Drazudkas late equaliser was enough to share the points. It would be the first game the two teams had played each other since that famous FAW Trophy final.

As a result of their first three league games, Holywell were going into this derby match with just two points from three games, with no wins and situated in 15th position (out of 16 teams), with only fellow promoted side, Gresford Athletic, below them.

The Cymru Alliance table prior to the match
The Cymru Alliance table prior to the match

Prior to the start of the season, Flint Town United were considered by many to be potential dark horses in this season’s Cymru Alliance. The Silkmen brought in former Welshpool Town, Cefn Druids and Conwy Borough manager Chris Herbert in the pre-season break, and hoped his vast experience in the Cymru Alliance (achieving a 2nd place finish and CA League Cup victory with Conwy) would improve on their slightly disappointing finish of 10th place in the 2014-15 season. To help them push forward, they made a number of high profile signings with the most eyebrow-raising of them being the capture of former Connah’s Quay player-manager Mark McGregor who would become a player-coach for the Silkmen.

The 2014-15 Cymru Alliance table
The 2014-15 Cymru Alliance table

With the Silkman squad having a vast number of changes, they have had a steady start to their Cymru Alliance league campaign. After surprisingly losing their opening game away to Conwy Borough 1-2 at Y Morfa, they achieved their first win of the season at home to Holyhead Hotspur winning the Anglesey side 1-0 through a second half strike from former Bangor City player and debutant Jamie Petrie. They would follow up that initial victory with a decent 1-1 draw with early league leaders Guilsfield at Cae-y-Castell. Again Petrie proving to be an influential signing by providing the assist for Simon Thelwell to open the scoring, before a second half strike from Guilsfield sub Jack Harris would ensure the honours would be split evenly.

PREVIEW

Prior the match, I was a little concerned that the match would not take place due to the torrential downpours that had blighted the area in the daytime (the drive to work on the A55 Expressway was particularly treacherous that day), and that the match would be postponed as a result of a waterlogged pitch. I need not have worried as the fantastic people at Holywell had done an incredible job to ensure the pitch was both playable and in a decent condition for a derby match. However weather conditions for the evening would not be ideal, especially for a September evening, with intermittent showers and low temperatures to be expected.

With this in mind, I had wrapped up warm with many layers and waterproofs and headed towards Halkyn Road. As I driving from my parents’ house straight to the game (normally I would have walked from my house as it’s just a 10 minute walk), I parked up in the large car park next to the cottage hospital. I arrived about 15 minutes before kick-off and the car park was already looking quite full, so I was expecting a big crowd to watch the game. I would later find out that the attendance for this mid-week game would be 501, which is a fantastic amount for second-tier Welsh football and shows the level of support for both teams.

The excellent programme for the match
The excellent programme for the match

The entrance fee for the game was a very reasonable £5, which was paid at the new turnstile hut, as well as buying the award-winning programme for the game for £1.50. Once again the programme editor and club secretary Steve Roberts (@SteHolywell) had done himself proud with this programme which provided a match report on the previous Holywell fixture at Halkyn Road, information on the last time both clubs met in a competitive fixture, as well as details on the youth teams and reserves plus the whole Cymru Alliance as a whole. Perhaps I am biased in my opinion, but it is an excellent programme and well worth the money!

My viewing position for most of the evening!
My viewing position for most of the evening!

Usually when I am watching Holywell, I either sit in the main stand or stand in front of the clubhouse. As both locations looked full when I entered the ground (a good sign of a decent crowd), I decided to change things up a little and stand on the uncovered other side of the pitch, and take my chances on the expected rain showers. All the usual Holywell regulars had turned up for this game despite the weather being all too wintery for September, and a large contingent of Flint supporters had also made the short journey to Halkyn Road. The mischievous green crocodile and adopted mascot Cecil was also in attendance for this derby match, and inevitably would up to his usual antics later on in the evening!

Buckley Town’s manager Tom Taylor had also made the trip down to Halkyn Road and in a good mood after his side had defeated fierce local rivals Mold Alex 2-0 the previous night. No doubt he was drawn to the game to see both a decent derby game and also to scout Holywell, who his side would be facing in both the Word Cup (the national league cup) and the league in the next coming weeks.

Conditions for the game were not brilliant, with darkened clouds hanging over the area like an unwelcome smell and temperatures dropping rapidly due to an increasing breeze. Even though the pitch had received a socking, the condition was good for a game and provided a bit of zip for the ball on the surface. Holywell were playing in their traditional home strip of red and white striped shirts, red shorts with red socks, whilst Flint were in their home kit of black and white striped shirts, black shorts with black socks.

Holywell's Team Selection [From the Holywell Town website]
Holywell’s team selection
[From the Holywell Town website]
Flint Town United team selection [Taken from FTU website]
Flint Town United’s team selection
[Taken from FTU website]
FIRST HALF

Holywell Town kick-off the match
Holywell Town kick-off the match

The first half would prove to be a tight and scrappy affair – essentially your typical derby game. Holywell would have the first chance of the game on the first minute of the game through their star forward “The Beast” Steve Lewis. Lewis found himself free in the box from a cross from the right, but perhaps distracted by the uncertainty of being onside or not, could only place his header wide of the post much to his own annoyance, and Flint goalkeeper Ross Dalton’s relief.

Holywell vs Flint Sept 15 (3)

Then came a spell of Flint chances as the visitors tested the Wellmen’s defence. Two minutes after the Lewis chance, Flint produced some impressive play which caused problems for the hosts backline. Paul McManus delivered a floated 40 yard free kick towards the back post where Simon Thelwell connected with the cross and deftly nodded the ball back out to the unmarked Liam Hynes. Alas Hynes failed to test Wellman keeper Mike Platt with his effort from the edge of the penalty box. About 10 minutes after their first chance and Flint had another chance through Kyle Smith who, after cutting inside from the flank to create space for himself, fired a low 25 yard long range shot towards goal which brought the best out of Platt. He performed an impressive low save to keep the scores level much to my relief!

Flint free kick
Flint free kick

The rest of the first half would become a game of attrition with neither side allowing much space nor time for their opposition, and producing some tasty looking challenges that you would expect from a derby game! During this period there was a couple of half chances with Holywell’s Dafydd Griffith heading over the crossbar after a Steve Thomas corner had been directed to the far post. Then Flint’s captain Craig Jones had a chance to open the scoring but could only lift his effort over the bar.

Holywell vs Flint Sept 15 (5)

It wouldn’t be until the final five minutes of the half until the game truly sparked into life. On the 40th minute Holywell pressurised Flint into a corner after a Steve Thomas cross had forced John Hill to head the ball out of play and just inches past his own goal, very nearly scoring an own goal. From the resulting corner, Paul Williams arced a wonderful cross into the box which was met by Ryan Davies who had an uncontested header just 5 yards from goal. Rather disappointingly for all the home support, he could only put his effort wide of the post and failed to test Dalton in goal. This effort was followed up by a Graeme Williams shot which was blocked by the visiting defence, and a McManus free kick which sailed over the host’s crossbar.

Holywell vs Flint Sept 15 (6)

With half time rapidly approaching, it would be Flint who would break the deadlock with one of the best goals I have seen since I started my groundhopping journey. A Flint attack had been successfully broken down by the Holywell defence and, after a bit of a pressurised scramble in the box which resulted in a Flint player going down in the box, managed to clear their lines. However the home defence could only clear the ball as far as Joe Culshaw who, spotting Mike Platt had come far off his goal line, unleashed an absolute rocket of a shot on the half-volley from about 35-40 yards out. The ball scorched over the Holywell defence and the helpless Platt and into the top right hand corner of the net – an absolute blockbuster and a worthy opener. It was that good even a lot of the home fans (myself included) applauded it! Take a bow Joe Culshaw!!

Holywell Town 0 – 1 Flint Town United

Flint celebrate the thunderbolt of an opener!
Flint celebrate the thunderbolt of an opener!

Flint managed to hold onto their lead for the remaining minutes of the half and went into the half-time break with the single goal advantage. Not a classic half of football but certainly a memorable goal to separate the two teams! If Holywell were to get anything from the match, they would need to come from behind once again for the third time in four matches!

HALF TIME: HOLYWELL TOWN 0 – 1 FLINT TOWN UNITED

By half time the sun had set, and a light drizzle was now falling upon us, not to mention a cold breeze was blowing in, it was starting to feel like a late Autumn / early Winter evening! The hands were frozen which made typing up notes on the phone an absolute nightmare!!!

SECOND HALF

When the teams came out for the second half, it was clear Holywell had a renewed drive as they looked for an early equaliser. It was in keeping with their previous games this season where they seemed to produce a much improved second half performance. Straight from the kick-off, Holywell were on the attack and almost got level when Dan Drazudkas curled a shot towards to the top corner of the goal. Alas for the former Mold forward, his effort took a deflection and went wide of Dalton’s goal. From the resulting corner, the ball was cleared by the Flint defence, but it fell into Ryan Davies’ path and his hurried attempt across the face of goal beat all the defenders but could not beat Dalton who pulled off a comfortable low save.

Holywell go searching for an equaliser
Holywell go searching for an equaliser

Holywell were turning the screw and it wouldn’t be long before they managed to grab an equaliser in the game. A fantastic defence piercing ball by Steve Thomas saw Steve Lewis break clear to run towards goal after he beat his marker and the offside trap. Lewis rounded the advancing Dalton and unselfishly squared the ball across the goal to the onrushing Graeme Williams, who blasted the ball through a crowd of scrambling Flint defenders and hit the back of the net. Flint would have been disappointed seeing their defence carved open so easily by the hosts and to concede so early in the half, but it was a worthy equaliser for the Wellmen and a goal which the vast home support loudly cheered over!

Holywell Town 1 – 1 Flint Town United

Holywell equal the scores up
Holywell equal the scores up

The momentum was now with the Wellmen and Flint were struggling to cope with the renewed vigour of the Holywell attacks. They were resorting to a long ball, “route one” tactic to quickly counter-attack their opponents by getting the ball forward as efficiently as possible. Rather concerning for the Silkmen fans in attendance, instead of catching the Holywell defence on the back foot, they just cheaply conceded possession when the ball was punted forward. The hosts could easily dealing with the tactic with Dafydd Griffith winning the aerial battles and constantly claiming the second balls, and this encouraged Holywell to renew the attack at the Flint defence in continuous waves.

With Flint becoming increasingly compressed in their own half, it provided additional space for the Holywell players. Wellman captain Tom McElmeel exploited this new found space by making a great run from his own half and passed the ball to Thomas who had found some space cutting inside, but saw his shot saved by Dalton. Holywell were then forced into a change when Paul Williams picked up an injury and had to be replaced by Stuart Hayes. Thomas was becoming increasing influential due to the space afforded to him by the ever deepening Flint defence, and his run saw him pass to Drazdukas who had drifted wide into space. Alas his cross was just a bit too deep and went beyond Lewis and Hayes who were dangerously lurking in the box.

Getting ready for a set piece with Cecil celebrating in the background
Getting ready for a set piece with Cecil celebrating in the background

With the Holywell attacks becoming relentless, it was only a matter of time before they took the lead and it came through “The Beast”. McElmeel split the defence once again with a delicious through ball which allowed Lewis to break towards goal after he had easily turned his marker. In the one-on-one situation, Lewis made no mistake and blasted the ball past the advancing Dalton to give Holywell a much deserved lead.

Holywell Town 2 – 1 Flint Town United

Cue rapturous celebrations from the home supporters and Lewis ran towards the fans behind the goal and plucked Cecil from the crowd. There Lewis and the rest of the team celebrated with Cecil on the pitch much to the delight of the crowd who were now chanting “BEAST BEAST BEAST!!” in honour of their new hero. Thankfully that inflatable reptilian pitch invader made a dart back into the crowd before the referee could send him off again, to avoid a similar incident to what happened to Cecil at the FAW Trophy final!

Ref has a word after some "handbags"
Ref has a word after some “handbags”

The vast Holywell support were on cloud nine at this point, and they almost saw a third goal a few minutes after the home side had wrestled the lead away from the Silkmen. Thomas once again impressed the crowd by beating his marker and surged down the left by-line, before he was clumsily brought down for a foul. From the resulting free-kick, Thomas launched the ball towards goalscorer Lewis but could only see his effort go just wide. A few minutes later and Lewis would find the back of the net after Ross Ankers had fired a cross into the box and he was clear to convert the opportunity. However the official chalked off the goal as Lewis was correctly adjudged to be offside.

McElmeel ready with the direct free kick
McElmeel ready with the direct free kick

Holywell were continually pressing for a third and killing off any potential sucker punch from the now rattled Flint team. Ankers and Thomas both had shot blocked, and then Graeme Williams, who had been superb in the second half, successfully won the ball in midfield and drove forward towards goal. He cut inside and easily evaded the half-hearted challenge from the right back and struck a sweet shot which was looking as if it would nestle in the bottom corner. Frustratingly for the home side, the ball curled away at the last moment and deflected off the base of the post. Holywell were pushing hard but just couldn’t find that killer blow and had to be weary of being caught out with just 10 minutes remaining.

Flint's #5 finally gets cautioned
Flint’s #5 John Hill finally gets cautioned

It was around this time when I moved from my position on the Bagillt side of the pitch, and headed behind the Flint goal, hoping to see a third Holywell goal fly in! Space had opened up behind the goal, no doubt made by supporters (probably Flint supporters) leaving early.

My new viewing position behind the Flint goal
My new viewing position behind the Flint goal

Despite Flint having very little possession and being swamped by the Holywell attack cycles, they almost stole a point with their first real chance of the second half. With only a few minutes remaining, the long ball upfield finally found Culshaw and he managed to whip a ball towards Thelwell who had slipped his marker and was running towards the near post. The forward managed to get a free header from six yards out but could only manage to blaze his effort wide of the post, much to the home side’s relief and the Flint’s fans frustration. Flint almost punished Holywell for switching off towards the end!

Holywell trying to waste time by putting the ball in the corner
Holywell trying to waste time by putting the ball in the corner

It would be the final act in this performance and the Wellmen successfully managed to hold onto possession and run the clock down to secure a famous victory over their rivals. Nine years of waiting and Holywell had finally earned their first Cymru Alliance victory over their fiercest of rivals!!

FULL TIME: HOLYWELL TOWN 2 – 1 FLINT TOWN UNITED

Full time - a great victory for the Wellmen
Full time – a great victory for the Wellmen

In the end Holywell wanted the victory more and it was another impressive second half performance from the Wellmen to claim the three points. The new signings of Lewis and Drazdukas are settling in well with the established players and Holywell are now starting to find their feet back in the Cymru Alliance. Hopefully this victory will give them the confidence boost they needed to push onto a very busy September program and start making some waves in the league.

As for Flint, the result would have hurt but the second half performance would have been more disappointing. They had been equal with their opponents in the first half and their goal was the highlight of the game (if not season so far), but they didn’t seem up for the fight in the second half and their long ball tactic just didn’t work for them. I appreciate that Flint is going through a transitional phase with all the new signings and manager, and I would imagine they will be much improved within the next few weeks under Herbert’s management. The match at Cae-y-Castell in December will be an interesting encounter now especially when injuries and suspensions naturally come into play in the middle of the season!

Naturally I thoroughly enjoyed the game, and to see Holywell finally pick up a victory was fantastic to see, and to do it over the main rivals as well made it even sweeter! However I must give credit to the Flint fans who turned up to watch the game, they were a credit to their team and were out in good force, especially for a mid-week game. In fact it was a great advertisement for Cymru Alliance football with 501 people turning up on a miserable Wednesday evening to watch second-tier Welsh football (we can now use the football cliché “can they do it on a cold Wednesday night in Holywell?”). There won’t be many games anywhere in the gwlad this week that will surpass that attendance amount, and both sets of fans must be highly commended for coming out in force and creating a friendly but electric atmosphere!

Alas there was one massive disadvantage from the large number of people visiting Halkyn Road – actually trying to leave the place! The traffic lights at the junction of the road don’t allow too many cars to leave the car park or ground easily before they switch back to red, which results in large delays and queues in the car parks! Please be aware when you’re leaving Halkyn Road that you might be waiting in a traffic jam for about 15-20 minutes before you can finally start your journey back!

However if Holywell keep on winning this season, I don’t think too many Wellman fans would mind the delay….

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One thought on “HOLYWELL TOWN 2 – 1 FLINT TOWN UNITED

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