Difficult Conditions

Flint Town United vs Newtown AFC, JD Welsh Cup 3rd Round, 05/12/15, Cae-Y-Castell

I think the start of this blog must be used to praise the ground staff at Flint Town United, as how they got this game on, I have no idea. But fair play to them, they worked hard and performed miracles to get the pitch in to as good a condition as possible. Winter is a season that I dread when it comes to football, as the postponements are inevitable, and I did worry that this game would be called off. In fact, I had around four different options to choose from, but when I read on Twitter that this game would be on, I decided that I would take a trip to Flint.

My journey to Flint would see me cover 17.5 miles, as I journeyed up the A55. According to Google Maps it would take me around 30 minutes to get to Cae-Y-Castell, so I left my home around 1.30pm, and arrived in Flint at 2pm. I hadn’t expected that the ground would be in as nice a location as it is. Cae-Y-Castell, sits on the edge of the mouth of the River Dee, with the car park sitting next to the remnants of Flint Castle. As I parked up I kicked myself for not arriving earlier, as I would have loved to have had a look around Flint Castle, but time was ticking on, and I walked past the social club, and down to the turnstiles. The walk to the football pitch takes you past a rugby pitch, where two teams were warming up, after a quick search on google I found that Flint Rugby Football Club were playing Denbigh Rugby Football Club, in a game that ended 14-5 in Flint’s favour.

Once at the turnstiles, I paid the friendly volunteer £5 for entry and a further £2 for a well presented programme. Once in the ground I decided to walk around the ground, and headed to the left past the main stand. The Main Stand straddles the touchline stretching only partway along the touchline, the changing rooms are house in this stand, and the dugouts sit either side of the Main Stand. As I carried on walking I was surprised to see a mini pitch in one corner of the ground, which would later be used by some kids for a game of football. Behind the goal, to the left hand side of the Main Stand, is a stretch of hard standing, with a fence attached to the perimeter wall to stop any balls from flying off towards the River Dee. On the opposite touchline to the Main Stand, stands two “Arena” stands, there is one of these stands in each half of the pitch, with them sitting closer to the corner flags, in the middle of these stands is what looks to be a TV gantry, under this TV gantry is a covered piece of standing, in which sits a discarded church pew, or at least it looks like one. It was in the “Arena” stand to the left of the TV gantry, in which I sat for the first half, it did the job of keeping the wind away, and offered a good view of the pitch. Behind the other goal, towards the corner flag closest to the turnstiles, sits two stands, one of which is a covered area for disabled supporters, and the other is another seated stand.

Flint Town United were formed in 1886 as Flint FC, and they made an early impression in North Wales football as they reach the first Welsh Amateur Cup final in the 1890 to 1891 season, but they were beaten in the final by Wrexham Victoria, in a match which ended 4-1. The club were founder members of the North Wales Coast League and the club won the inaugural championship in the 1893 to 1894 season by a narrow margin of two points, as they pipped Llandudno Swifts to the title. By the turn of the century there were three teams in Flint, namely: Flint Town, Flint Athletic and Flint UAC (United Alkali Company). In 1905 Flint UAC and Flint Town amalgamated and took the name of Flint Town. Following the Second World War, Flint Town and Flint Athletic amalgamated which resulted in the formation of the club bearing the title Flint Town United Football Club, and they entered the Welsh League (North) for the 1949 to 1950 season, and finished runners up to Holyhead Town. During the 60s the crowds of past years disappeared, bringing a decline in the club’s fortunes. Now playing in local leagues, the club relied on local players. The only bright spots in this decade were Flint Town Utd Youth winning the Welsh Youth Cup in 1965 and the Welsh Amateur Cup in 1969. During the 1970s and 80s the club moved between various leagues, becoming league champions of the Welsh League (North) in the 1988–89 season. In 1993 Flint became founder members of the League of Wales (LoW), and moved to a new ground, Cae-Y-Castell, however after five years in the LoW with no main sponsorships and ground upkeep, the club its place in the LoW and were relegated due to the LoW reducing the number of teams in the league due to UEFA rules. Since then the club have played in the Cymru Alliance, and currently sit in 5th place in the league.

I’ve covered Newtown AFC before in my blog here: https://davidsadventuresingroundhopping.wordpress.com/2015/10/24/traffic/. Since that match Newtown have played five league games, and have been in an alright vein of form, with wins over GAP Connahs Quay and Haverfordwest, 4-2 and 1-0 respectively. They have also lost to MBI Llandudno 3-0, and drawn 1-1 with Rhyl and Port Talbot Town. Currently Newtown sit in 4th in the Dafabet Welsh Premier League. Newtown come into this game with the tag of favourites, and would be hoping that their standing in a higher league would see them through this game, however that’s the magic of the cup, anyone can beat anyone.

Flint Town United have beaten Carno FC in the first round, in a game that ended 4-0, and in the second round they saw off Rhostyllen FC 2-0. This was to be Flint’s first home game of this season’s JD Welsh Cup. Newtown AFC haven’t played a game in the cup yet, as they have entered the cup at the 3rd round with the rest of the Welsh Premier League teams.

The wind was going to always make this an interesting game, as the wind was blowing in from the southern end of the ground towards the River Dee. The floodlights were already swaying under the force of the wind, and during the warm up it was clear to see both managers telling their teams about the importance of keeping the ball down when kicking the ball into the wind, and to use the wind to their advantage if they had the chance.

It was going to be interesting to see which side would have the wind behind them for the first half, as both sides would be wanting to use it to their advantage. Flint won the toss, and it was to be Newtown who would be kicking against the wind for the first half.

Lining up for Newtown were to be two former Shrewsbury Town players, in the way of Dave Jones, the Newtown keeper, and Gavin Cadwallader, the Newtown defender. Jones was to only play as a youth player for Shrewsbury, but Cadwallader played a couple of times for Salop after rising through the youth ranks, injury was to hamper his time at Salop, and he was released in 2007 before going on to play for Aberystwyth (twice), Newtown, Airbus and Cefn Druids before resigning for Newtown in 2015.

With the game under way, both sides were attempting long passes forward, but the wind was to carry the ball away in different directions to the intended pass. Newtown saw their long passes held up by the wind, and Flint saw theirs given a bit of a boost down the pitch, however this didn’t always work out for Flint as the ball travelled at too quick a speed for the Flint strikers.

In the 21st minute Craig Jones, the Flint skipper, was booked for pulling back Newtown’s Neil Mitchell, the resulting free kick was well gathered by Ross Dalton in the Flint goal.

The wind was having a major effect on the game, and it was clearly hindering the flow of the game, during the first half a number of balls were lost over the touchline, where I was sat. Both sides did have chances to get ahead in the game, and Flint were having the better half out of the two teams, however they were unable to take their chances.

Flint should have been in the lead by the time the half time whistle blew, but they had been unable to find a way to get past the Newtown defence, and had been denied a couple of times by Dave Jones in the Newtown goal.

Half Time: Flint Town United 0-0 Newtown AFC

At half time the announcer came on and started off by apologizing for the next couple of songs, but he had had a number of requests. I was slightly bemused by this apology, but then it dawned on me. It’s December, and that means Christmas music. “Stop the Cavalry” then began to play.

As usual I headed round to the refreshment hut, and joined the queue. Once I had waited my turn, I bought a Cheeseburger and a can of Diet Coke, which came to £3.20. Cheeseburger in hand, I headed to the Main Stand, and took a seat. In last week’s blog I praised the Cheeseburger at Chirk, and I think I may have found a burger as good as that one, it was beautiful.

I stayed in the Main Stand for the second half, and the two sides soon emerged, Flint were now to be kicking against the wind, and I wondered whether they would attempt to play the ball on the deck, however the pitch was cutting up and any attempt to play the ball on the deck would be difficult.

The wind had picked up, and the Flint keeper was struggling with any goal kicks that he took, time and time again he tried to get distance on his kicks but they were met by the wind, and they weren’t making the halfway line.

Newtown opened the scoring in the 70th minute as Craig Harris found himself in space on the right wing, and his cross turned shot looped over the keeper’s head and nestled in the net. I’m still not sure whether Harris meant to take a shot from that position, or whether he had just simply hit a cross which was then assisted by the wind. If Harris meant it as a shot, then it was a fantastic goal.

Ross Dalton, the Flint keeper, was persisting with long goal kicks, but barely any of them reached the halfway line, with the majority dropping dangerously on the edge of the Flint box, or heading over the touchline for Newtown throw-ins.

At this point the wind was getting worse, and the referee had to pause the game as a steward ran onto the pitch to retrieve one of the advertising hoardings which had gotten loose.

Matty Owen netted Newtown’s 2nd in the 90th minute. The fourth official had just signaled for two minutes of extra time before Matty Owen unleashed a fantastic shot from the left hand side of the area, his right footed shot curled beautifully into the net, and essentially ended Flint’s hopes of advancing into the next round.

Final Score: Flint Town United 0-2 Newtown AFC (Harris 70, Owen 90)

So it would be Newtown who would be advancing to the next round of the JD Welsh Cup, where they will potentially face the likes of Barry Town United, TNS, Buckley Town and Rhyl to name but a few. Newtown played well and coped with the difficult conditions in the first half, and used them to their advantage in the second half, this wasn’t a classic game for Newtown but they did the job. I do feel that Flint Town deserved something from this game, as they played well, and there didn’t seem to be a lot of difference between the two sides.

Cae-Y-Castell is a lovely ground, in a picturesque setting, the volunteers around the ground are friendly, and from my personal experience I found this to be a well-run club, and I am looking forward to returning in the future. I’m going to keep an eye out for who Newtown draw in the 4th round of this competition, and I’ll hopefully get to that game, although if they draw a South Wales team it may be difficult.

Attendance: Unknown, I’ll update this when I find out.

Hat-tricks seen so far: 3

Next week’s plan: Connahs Quay vs Port Talbot, Dafabet Welsh Premier League, 12/12/15 (This may change depending on weather conditions/postponements)

Money spent: £10.20

Thanks for reading!

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Flint Castle
Flint Castle
Rugby
Rugby
Rugby
Rugby
Mini Pitch
Mini Pitch

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#NonLeagueBin
#NonLeagueBin
TV Gantry
TV Gantry
Church pew?
Church pew?

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