Rhyl 3 (Taylor 2, Haywood)
Bethel 4 (F Williams 3, Maloney)
FAW Women’s Welsh Cup second round – November 24, 2019
The dubious reward of a Welsh Cup quarter-final trip to mighty Swansea City is the prize secured by Bethel after their hard-fought second round win at Belle Vue today.
It is the second time the Caernarfon area village team has reached the last eight of the national knockout, the previous memorable occasion coming in 2016-17, when they lost gallantly 4-2 to holders Cardiff City FC Women.
And they are fully worth their place in the quarters again, after bouncing back from an average first-half performance to dominate fellow North Wales Division One opponents Rhyl.
Kick-off was delayed due to the late appearance of the match referee, and had the home club not successfully gambled on using the problematic floodlights to see out the game, the teams would have struggled to complete the necessary extra time.
Chances were few and far between in a dull first half which saw Rhyl do the majority of the attacking while Bethel looked lively on the break.
Natalie Harrison’s downward header was well grasped by visiting keeper Sions Hughes-Williams before the same home player rounded the custodian but could only find the side-netting.
Bethel’s best chance saw Jenna Allsup blast over after Erin Maloney had challenged keeper Lauren Jones to a bouncing ball.
The deadlock was broken when Ceri Purvis played the ball into the box and Niomi Taylor had the rare luxury space to turn and lash into the left-hand corner to put the Lilywhites ahead.
Ffion Williams’ low strike was pushed out for a corner by Jones, who then bravely denied Maloney as Bethel ended the half chasing an equaliser.
The second 45 minutes saw the visiting side on top from the start. They were first to every ball and very rarely allowed the opposition to enter their half.
It was no surprise when a low delivery from the right into the penalty area was latched onto by the pacy Ffion Williams, who drilled home the equaliser.
The outstanding Anest Roberts tested the keeper from a free kick before Williams stabbed over from close range as Bethel upped the pressure.
It was not long before Shannon Jade Jones’ defence-splitting pass once more enabled Ffion Williams to race clear and finish calmly for 2-1.
Rhyl were hardly in the contest before they levelled totally against the run of play.
Hughes-Williams was unable to hold a Sade Benjamin free kick and Taylor pounced for her second of the day.
Bethel got back on top, Katie Midwinter’s powerful free kick testing keeper Jones and the same player’s excellent resulting corner so nearly brought a goal.
The visitors could have clinched it right at the end, Williams’ shot saved by Jones and Maloney blasting the rebound wide of a gaping goal.
Extra time was needed and the additions of Katie Houghton and Angharad Evans perked up the Bethel attack even further.
Evans shot wide from a set-up by Williams, who drove another effort across the face of goal.
Bethel eventually took the lead when Houghton brilliantly won a tackle and fed a lovely pass into the path of Ffion Williams, who finished gleefully for her hat-trick.
Early in the second period a long ball into the Rhyl box released Maloney, who netted clinically for 4-2.
Williams was through on the keeper again but Jones thwarted her, then in the dying stages some miscommunication in the Bethel box allowed Sophie Haywood to slot into an open goal.
However, Bethel were to hold on for the spoils.
The first half was a virtual non-event with Rhyl’s well-taken goal giving them the lead they just about deserved.
After the break Bethel were a totally different team. Totally switched on, they broke through a heavy-legged Rhyl side at will, a double from the electric Ffion Williams putting them ahead.
It looked like only one winner now, but this is cup football and Rhyl have proved time and again already this season they are never beaten.
Taylor’s equaliser put them back on terms, and although Bethel should have won it in normal time, the added half-hour we all dreaded because of the fading light was required.
With Rhyl having already cancelled next Friday’s men’s game at home to Flint due to ongoing floodlight issues, we did not expect to see Belle Vue lit up today.
However, an attempt was made to turn the lights on and the glow from above did its job, working for just long enough to see out the game.
Extra time again belonged to Bethel, the brilliant Williams and ever-willing Maloney getting the goals to clinch it.
It was a fair result on the day. There were some good individual displays from Rhyl, but it was mostly Bethel players who stood out.
Beca Williams, Jenna Allsup, Kelly Jones, Llio Henshaw and especially Anest Roberts, as elegant a player as you could wish to see at this level, really shone in the defence and at times advancing forward.
Shannon Jade Jones and Jody Cain provided the tireless midfield legs and Katie Houghton and Angharad Evans took over in the extra half-hour.
Star of the show was undoubtedly Ffion Williams – firefighter, kickboxer and a footballer with genuine speed and finishing ability. She was the big difference.
Rhyl can feel disappointed but also proud. No-one will get an easy ride from them this season. Aled Davies and Iwan Davies’ side have come on in leaps and bounds.
Rhyl: Lauren Jones, Sade Benjamin, Rosie O’Brien, Sophie Haywood, Caroline Gardner, Colleen Skeffington, Ceri Purvis, Joy Jamieson, Catrin Davies, Natalie Harrison, Niomi Taylor. Subs used: Amy Woodbridge, Trisha Hartley, Faye Williams.
Bethel: Sioned Hughes-Williams, Beca Williams, Jenna Allsup, Anest Roberts, Kelly Jones, Llio Henshaw, Shannon Jones, Jody Cain, Katie Midwinter, Ffion Williams, Erin Maloney. Subs used: Katie Houghton, Angharad Evans. Not used: Hannah Jones, Erin Allen-Jones, Llio Emyr.