Rhyl 1 (Bailey OG 61)
Llanfair United 2 (Griffiths 20, Jones 63)
North Wales Women’s Football League Division One – October 6, 2019
An added-time penalty save from Llanfair keeper Tracey Godsell denied Rhyl a point in a dramatic encounter at Ffordd Derwen playing fields this afternoon.
Last season’s joint-champions United had to battle hard for three points against a home side which is adapting really well to life in Division One.
Both teams came into the game with two wins apiece and there was almost a stunning start when Natalie Harrison stole possession in the area, but Godsell was just about first to reach the ball and gather.
It was a good day for the keepers as Rhyl’s stopper Lauren Jones was outstanding. In the second minute she made the first of a series of fine saves, denying Mary Griffiths with an outstretched foot.
Llanfair took the lead on 20 minutes when striker Griffiths picked up a loose pass, beat a defender and drilled home a left foot beauty for 1-0.
Rhyl had their backs to the wall for most of the first half, but defended really well. This aspect of their game has come on in bundles from last season.
Lauren Jones was there again to produce a double save from Sophie Cook and Gemma Jones, who then played a neat one-two with Griffiths, whose shot was again kept out by the busy keeper.
Rhyl were probably satisfied to reach the break just a goal down.
It was a different game after the interval, with the Lilywhites much more of a threat after the introduction of new signing Niomi Taylor in attack and last season’s leading scorer Sade Benjamin playing in a more advanced role.
In the 47th minute Taylor fed the ball from the left into Benjamin, who was in on goal, but took what seemed an age to get her shot off and when she did let fly, Godsell was able to block bravely from point blank range.
Nonetheless, Rhyl now knew they could worry the away defence and on 61 minutes came the equaliser.
Benjamin swung over a fine corner from the left and Taylor challenged, but the ball ended up in the net off United captain Mary Bailey.
Rhyl needed to consolidate for a spell, but within two minutes the Powys travellers were back in front.
Cook floated over a cross from the left and Nia Ellis set up Gemma Jones to lash home from 10 yards.
The hosts responded well, Harrison with a fierce shot on the turn which Godsell dealt with efficiently.
Griffiths tricked her way into the box on 70 minutes but her left-foot rocket was brilliantly parried by Jones, who then saved the striker’s follow-up attempt as well.
Rhyl went so close to levelling it when Godsell missed a Ceri Purvis free kick into the area and the ball rebounded onto the underside of the bar, but the danger was cleared.
Cook was thwarted by keeper Jones from an angled drive before the home side produced a big finish.
In the 93rd minute the referee adjudged Bailey had fouled Harrison in the box and pointed to the penalty spot.
Harrison’s kick was not the best struck, and Godsell was able to save fairly comfortably going down to her left.
The final whistle went on a Llanfair win, but Rhyl had more than proved they belong at this level and look likely to earn more victories than defeats this term.