NFA 6 (Jessica Mills, Amy Webster 3, Becca Bannister, Emily Jones)
Penrhyn Bay 3 (Ffion Evans, Mia Rawling 2, 1 pen)
North Wales Women’s Football League Division Two – November 3, 2019
Nine goals – including five in the first 15 minutes – a penalty, a sending off, some superb goalkeeping… all in all a very entertaining visit to Rhyl High School for Sunday’s Division Two clash between NFA and Penrhyn Bay.
Newcomers to the league this season, NFA endured a difficult start with an opening weekend 9-0 home whipping from Amlwch Town, but the Rhyl-based side soon found their feet and this latest victory – a fourth in six games – put them second in the table.
A very inexperienced Penrhyn Bay failed to pick up a single win last campaign, but the story has changed this time around as they have benefited from the move into senior football of last season’s FAW Under-16 Welsh Cup winning team, as well as the acquisition of some quality new faces.
Bay had won two and lost two ahead of the NFA test, so a reasonably close contest was expected at Rhyl High.
You cannot start better than scoring straight from the kick off – and that’s what the home team did.
Becca Bannister showed great determination to create space down the right, the Bay keeper could only get fingertips on her cross and Jessica Mills arrived at the perfect time to knock the ball over the line.
Far from deterred, Penrhyn roared straight back and were level again in the fourth minute.
The hosts made a poor job of clearing their lines and Mia Rawling fed a neat pass into Ffion Evans, who finished well from 10 yards.
Just two minutes later, NFA striker Amy Webster received the ball from a throw-in, turned smartly and had sufficient room to drill home and make it 2-1.
Bay were not lying down, and in the 10th minute Rawling floated a lovely effort from the right which flew in above keeper Yasmin Mills’ head.
In the 15th minute Bannister’s firm strike was pushed behind for a corner from which Rachel Lloyd’s delivery was headed in by Webster.
NFA created some breathing space in the 21st minute when great work by Emily Jones saw her find Bannister, whose 20-yard drive beat the keeper for 4-2.
Neither defence had covered itself in glory up to this point and play became more scrappy and niggly.
In the 40th minute an altercation broke out near the left touchline, close to halfway. Gemma Hardman clearly kicked out at Webster and after the melee that followed referee Gary Hayes rightly red carded the Penrhyn offender.
Half-time: NFA 4 Penrhyn Bay 2
While the 11 players of NFA took control of the second half, the longer it stayed at 4-2 the more chance of a Bay revival.
Emily Jones and Webster saw attempts saved before NFA’s Mills bravely raced off her line to thwart Hannah Smith.
In the 71st minute a clip in the area led to a Penrhyn penalty which Rawling buried to cut the deficit to one.
Bay were unable to produce enough pressure to threaten an equaliser and hat-trick seeking Webster missed a great chance when she sliced wide following fine build-up from Lloyd.
Finally, the 81st minute brought a welcome fifth for Andy Lloyd and Rebekah Hansen’s side.
Bannister’s great pass released Webster, who emerged through one firm tackle with the ball and poked home from close range for the first senior treble of her career.
There was still time for one more goal, Emily Jones jinking her way into the box before her shot went in off the keeper. A well-deserved and popular goal for the hard-working Jones.
Three points fully merited by NFA, but Penrhyn are on an improvement curve which should earn them a few more victories before the season is out.
Grassroots North Wales Players of the Match
NFA: Amy Webster
Penrhyn Bay: Mia Rawling
Unsung hero: Jessica Mills (NFA) – put in a really good shift, working hard from first whistle to last.