Review of North Wales Women’s Football League season 2019-20: Division 1

Division One runners-up Bethel take on Connah’s Quay Nomads (red) in a Welsh Cup cracker

Overall the 2019-20 North Wales Women’s Football League season was a shambles – but there were some positives.

Long before coronavirus brought an early conclusion to proceedings, the league was suffering from an enormous fixtures backlog which had cast doubt on the season finishing on time anyway.

Many postponements were caused by the weather, but quite a few others were down to teams pulling out of games as they pleased for various reasons, some questionable.

Next season, the NWWFL looks set to split into two leagues – the North East Wales FA (which will also include Llanfair United from central Wales) and the North Wales Coast FA, subject to there being sufficient interest.

This will ensure less long-distance travelling for clubs and hopefully a more efficiently-run fixture list.

However, despite its shortness in length and action, the 2019-20 NWWFL campaign was not a complete flop.

We saw the stronger teams remain strong, a few new sides make a good impression and vast improvement from some existing members.

Here’s a team-by-team look back at the season…..firstly, it’s DIVISION ONE

Division One

1st Llanfair United: Played 5 Won 5 Goals For 32 Goals Against 4 Pts 15 (3.00)

Well done the champions – Llanfair United

Based on the method used to decide the winners and losers in a short season, Llanfair deserved to land the title.

You cannot do any better than compile a 100% record, regardless of how few games it was over.

Both Llanfair and runners-up Bethel had nine league games left to play, including two against each other. Had the season run its course things may have ended up differently, but we will never know.

Llanfair again proved they are a big asset to the North Wales League. They have the option to compete in their own area league, but decide to participate in ours.

It’s a good thing as they have made the top division more competitive.

With their other four victories quite emphatic, the Powys team can probably look back on their narrow 2-1 win at Rhyl in October as the game which clinched them the title.

The home side missed a very late penalty which if converted would have cost Llanfair two points.

Gemma Jones, the 2018-19 overall league top-scorer, shone again for United, finishing leading markswoman in Division One with 11 goals.

Sophie Cooke, Sarah Ellis, Mary Bailey and the ever-excellent Mary Griffiths were others to stand out.

2nd Bethel: P 5 W 4 D 1 L 0 GF 25 GA 8 Pts 13 (2.60)

Anest Roberts was one of Bethel’s players of the season

The only slip-up for an excellent young Bethel side was a 2-2 home draw against the much-improved Rhyl.

Otherwise, it was four league victories for a blossoming team which also reached the Welsh Cup quarter-finals, where they put up a fine performance in a 4-0 loss against Welsh Premier champions Swansea City.

Erin Maloney scored the most goals in all competitions across the league – 21 – with seven netted in Division One and 14 in the cups.

Ffion Williams also had a fine season, notching 11 in all comps, including a hat-trick at Rhyl in a 4-3 Welsh Cup success.

A number of youngsters came to the fore for Ben Bolton’s side, with Beca Williams, Anest Roberts and Llio Henshaw standing out in defence.

3rd Rhyl: P 6 W 4 D 1 L 1 GF 15 GA 6 Pts 13 (2.17)

Rhyl had a cracking season. Picture: @RhylFCLadies

As part of a club re-badge, last season’s Development side became Rhyl’s first team, the senior XI having withdrawn from the Welsh Premier League.

The vast majority of the new Rhyl was made up of the Development squad of 2018-19 and they did extremely well, coming within a successful penalty of taking a point off champions Llanfair and holding runners-up Bethel 2-2 away.

Fielding a pleasing blend of experience and younger talent, it was one of the ‘older heads’ who shone brightest, Ceri Purvis finishing second-top scorer in Division One with eight goals.

4th Denbigh Town P 4 W 2 D 0 L 2 GF 13 GA 13 Pts 6 (1.50)

The few games Denbigh did play were not short of goals!

In a season where they played hardly any matches, Denbigh still made an impression.

The main reason was striker Rosie Hughes, the ex-Llandudno netbuster hitting 18 goals in just a handful of starts, including a pair of double hat-tricks and a four. Ten of her goals came against Northop Hall.

P-P-G ensured their low points total overall was still enough to seal them fourth place.

5th Northop Hall: P 7 W 3 D 1 L 3 GF 11 GA 27 Pts 10 (1.43)

Rebecca Hughes (blue – 6) and Chelsea Evans (right) in action for Northop Hall against Airbus. Picture: Matthew Jones

Some good signs for the Hall who are still in a process of rebuild following their championship success of two seasons ago.

The Flintshire girls picked up three wins – two against Wrexham and one versus Corwen – as well as starting the season with a really good draw at Airbus.

On other occasions they shipped heavy defeats, but the squad’s struggles with injuries and unavailability should be taken into account.

Eleanor Thomas showed real promise up front, while in the midfield Rebecca Hughes and Chelsea Evans excelled at times.

Unfortunately a lengthy injury lay-off denied midfielder Hughes a lot of game time.

6th Airbus: P 7 W 2 D 1 L 4 GF 15 GA 16 Pts 7 (1.00)

Airbus Ladies line up

Similar to derby rivals Northop Hall, Airbus’ season was like the curate’s egg – good in parts.

The Wingmakers started off with some steady displays, the consistent goal-getting of Becky Lees an early feature.

Tegan Hewitt then took over as chief net-finder, scoring two in Airbus’ best display of the season – a 4-0 Betty Pickering Cup victory over Bethel.

The long-term loss of skipper Abby Williams through injury no doubt affected the team.

7th Corwen P 7 W 2 D 0 L 5 GF 11 GA 21 Pts 6 (0.86)

Corwen ladies with coach Alaw Davies-Smith (holding shirt)

To finish next-to-bottom of the table could be construed a failure – but that was not really the case for Corwen.

In their first season in Division One and only their second-ever campaign as a senior team, Alaw Davies-Smith’s side produced plenty to be positive about.

Like every team, they suffered from inactivity due largely to the awful winter, but managed a couple of fine victories over Northop Hall and Wrexham.

And they always took something out of their defeats – this team never stopped trying.

They also had injury problems to deal with, as well as the very sad loss of coach Huw “Chick” Jones in February.

All in all, a tough season for the girls but they let no-one down.

8th Wrexham: P 7 W 0 D 0 L 7 GF 4 GA 31 Pts 0 (0.00)

Despite picking up no points, this newly-promoted Wrexham side can hold their heads high.

A couple of really good cup wins, against Pwllheli and Llanberis, showed what they are capable of.

There were some tough lessons learned in the league, but this was their first stab at Division One and they will come on stronger for the experience.

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