Flint Town United 1 (Thelwell 69)
Connah’s Quay Nomads 2 (O’Toole 5 & 59)
Huws Gray Alliance – Wednesday 9th February 2011
Gary O’Toole netted twice as gap Connah’s Quay Nomads ground out a narrow victory at Cae-y-Castell 10 years ago today.
The Huws Gray Alliance leading scorer chalked up his 21st and 22nd goals of a flourishing campaign to sink a determined Flint side and, in doing so, handed Nomads the league double over their traditional rivals.
O’Toole opened the scoring inside five minutes after a wind-assisted punt caused mayhem for home ‘keeper Leigh Williams, then the hot-shot striker doubled his tally on the hour with a well-placed effort from Jamie Petrie’s cross.
But a late rally, sparked by Simon Thelwell’s close range header, gave Flint hope only for Nomads to hold on for a gritty three points.
The home side were still smarting from a shock 3-1 defeat to Penrhyncoch at the weekend and took the game to Nomads from the off, winning a corner inside the first minute.
Visiting ‘keeper Adam McGee was fortunate to escape unscathed when he fumbled the resulting delivery, and the Nomads defence lashed clear.
Minutes later, McGee dived low to his right to make a smart stop from a 25-yard free kick, gathering at the second attempt.
Against the run of play, O’Toole gave the visitors a fifth minute lead following an horrific fumble by Williams in the home goal.
A wind-assisted punt up-field cleared the Flint rearguard but a grounded Williams contrived to flap at the ball – allowing O’Toole, who had raced into the area unchallenged, the simplest of tasks to find the net.
The buoyed visitors then forced a succession of corners, from which captain Craig Jones sent a half-volley dipping over, before Mark McGregor had a looping header hooked off the line by a defender on the far post.
But just as Nomads looked to be gaining a foothold on proceedings, Flint came back strong and tested McGee through Jack Abraham’s dipping half-volley.
At the other end O’Toole had a clear chance to double his tally when he raced behind the Flint defence to meet Andy Alston’s powerful through ball, but keeper Williams was quick to close the threat down and held on to the striker’s first-time effort.
The home side ended the half on the front foot, particularly after Jones had sliced a Mike Banks cross towards his own goal – McGee diving full-stretch to his right to claw the ball behind for a corner.
Three minutes before the interval Thelwell’s clever reverse through ball played Paul Williams in on goal, but McGee was quick off his line to block – only for the loose ball to find Flint hit-man Beck who could only smash against the top of the post from ten yards.
Half-time: Flint 0 Nomads 1
Flint were unfortunate to trail at half-time and they were quick out of the blocks when the match resumed, creating a series of corners and half-chances early on.
Once again, it was slightly against the run of play when O’Toole doubled his and Nomads’ score in the 59th minute.
A punishing quick-fire counter released Petrie down the right wing and his cross picked out an unmarked O’Toole at the far post, who lifted the ball over Williams and into the bottom corner from six yards.
Now trailing by two, Flint boss Paul Davies threw on Connah’s Quay boy Ben Jones in an attempt to salvage some local pride and, after Thelwell had grazed the bar with a powerful effort, the move almost instantly paid off.
A cross from the right was inadvertently flicked on by McGregor at the near post and Thelwell stooped to head over McGee from close range to bring Flint back into the game. 1-2 and all to play for!
The final 20 minutes were played out almost entirely in Nomads’ half as the home side pushed for an equaliser, creating a host of clear-cut chances.
Moments after Thelwell’s lifeline, the same player was superbly denied by McGee when through on goal, before towering centre back John Davies headed over shortly after.
Home substitute Danny Sullivan then came close with a header of his own before in added time Beck could only loft the ball over McGee’s crossbar from close range.
Too little, too late for Flint, but the hosts will feel aggrieved to have somehow lost this one, whilst Nomads march on to their eighth win on the spin… just.
NOMADS: Adam McGee, Ben Alston, Ben Collins, Mark McGregor, Andy Alston, Craig Jones, Jamie Petrie, Alan Hooley, Gary O’Toole (Sam McNutt 73), James McIntosh, Dean Thurston (Danny Pinch 90+4).
FLINT: No line-up available