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Review of North Wales Women’s Football League season 2019-20: Division 2

Amlwch’s Catrin Evans scores against Rhyl. Picture: Gethin Jones ATFC

Continuing our in-depth review of the 2019-20 North Wales Women’s Football League season, we take a look at how DIVISION TWO panned out.

One team in its best-ever season achieving their greatest feat and the emergence of some highly promising newcomers – that’s Division Two in a nutshell.

With eight wins and a draw from their nine games, the powerful force that is Amlwch Town won their first-ever league title.

Also undefeated Connah’s Quay Nomads, who stunningly reached the Welsh Cup semi-finals, were Division Two runners-up, narrowly missing out on being crowned champions on P-P-G calculation.

Team-by-Team analysis

Division Two

Amlwch’s unstoppable Lexi Crawley (blue). Pic: Gethin Jones ATFC

1st Amlwch Town: Played 9 Won 8 Drawn 1 Lost 0 Goals For 85 Goals Against 12 Pts 25 (PPG 2.78)

A true ‘superteam’ of the 2019-20 season, Amlwch won more games and scored more goals than anyone else.

Mo Eynon and Charlotte Bethany Webb’s side laid the foundations for this success by winning the Supplementary Cup in 2018-19.

The vast majority of the team which triumphed that night in Rhyl remained for the next season, while a number of other exciting new faces came on board.

After the Ynys Môn women made the final of the Inter-Island Games against the odds last summer, Amlwch swooped by signing some of Anglesey’s finest.

Former Caernarfon Town captain and midfield goal-getter Ffion Owen arrived at Lon Bach, as did Catrin Evans, who netted 18 goals in 12 appearances for Division One joint-champions Bethel in 2018-19.

Right-winger Ceri Slaney signed from Caernarfon Town, along with left-back Beth Jones, while striker Ceri Lois also joined but missed the season through a shoulder injury.

In November, the squad was further boosted with the return of defender Charley Smith from TNS.

Amlwch were on fire from day one, winning 9-0 at newly-formed NFA on the opening Sunday.

Goals flowed all season from the boots of Lexi Crawley, Ffion Owen, Cerys Gadd and Catrin Evans among others.

Town’s only slip-up was a 3-3 home draw with Connah’s Quay Nomads.

Amlwch amassed 85 goals in just nine league matches.

Despite going out of the Welsh Cup at Division One champions Llanfair, the all-blues remained in two other knockout competitions until the season’s end.

2nd Connah’s Quay Nomads: Played 6 Won 5 Drawn 1 Lost 0 GF 38 GA 8 Pts 16 (2.67)

Nomads Ladies. Picture: Nik Mesney, NCM Media

Newcomers Nomads laid down a marker for the future by finishing runners-up and reaching the Welsh Cup semi-finals in their debut season.

Head coach Sara Hilton signed some fine talent in the summer, including a number of ex-Welsh Premier players from Rhyl and Llandudno, plus some quality ex-Tranmere Rovers hopefuls.

The only blot on the Nomads’ copybook was the aforementioned 3-3 draw at eventual champions Amlwch Town.

Unbeaten in the league, but only playing six matches, the Quay exited the two domestic cups to Bethel, yet caused a sensation by making the last four of the Welsh Cup, knocking out Welsh Premier Port Talbot along the way.

Top-scorer for the side was ex-Rhyl and Tranmere forward Candice Nellist, but so many other players impressed, including Rachael Nattrass, Tonicha Dickens, Lani Buckley, Kate Horne, Shannon Hobbs and ex-Wales international Jasmin Dutton.

If they can keep this squad together and build, the Nomads look set for big things, especially with the Welsh pyramid changing in 2021-22, offering added incentives for the more ambitious teams.

3rd NFA: Played 9 Won 6 Drawn 0 Lost 3 GF 32 GA 26 Pts 18 (2.00)

NFA after their victory over Mountain Rangers

While it is fair to say the top two were stand-out teams, NFA were undoubtedly the best of the rest.

After a heavy opening-day defeat which saw the squad look unfamiliar with each other, they were soon improving fast, a 2-1 home win over previously unbeaten Mountain Rangers in October making Division Two sit up and take notice.

Former Rhyl players Emily Jones, Ashleigh Mills, Rachel Lloyd, Amy Webster and goalkeeper Yasmin Mills led the resurgence, while young players such as Llinos Hughes, Jess Mills, Chloe Evans, Abi Bradley and Amy Chesters really began making their mark.

Experienced heads like Libby McClelland and Sammie Jo Hyland were also playing a part.

Plenty of good things to come from Andy Lloyd’s team.

4th Mountain Rangers: Played 6 Won 3 Drawn 1 Lost 2 GF 32 GA 11 Pts 10 (1.67)

Following a flying start with three straight wins, Rangers were beaten at NFA and then came a long spell of inactivity.

The season never got truly started for Irfon Hughes’ side, who built up a really good squad in the summer which never got the opportunity to gel.

Players such as Katie Bowe, Danielle Barnfield and Elena Julio promised so much, but injuries, postponements and unavailability ensured it was largely a campaign of frustration for the Lamas.

5th Pwllheli: Played 10 Won 4 Drawn 1 Lost 5 GF 39 GA 38 Pts 13 (1.30)

Although a Division One club, Pwllheli decided to drop a level below due to uncertainty over the availability of players over the season.

As it turned out, the move into Division Two proved pretty good as Pwll made many friends along the way with their entertaining matches.

Their 10 games produced 77 goals in all and Pwll enjoyed some fine wins, beating Mountain Rangers, NFA and Penrhyn Bay along the way.

In the Betty Pickering Cup, a 3-0 home victory against Rhyl was a real highlight.

Pwllheli had no problem scoring goals. Stacey Sansome ended up joint third top markswoman in Division Two, while Amy Roberts, Lowri Hughes and Sioned Mair Jones also pocketed their share.

6th Penrhyn Bay: Played 7 Won 3 Drawn 0 Lost 4 GF 33 GA 22 Pts 9 (1.29)

Without a win in 2018-19, Penrhyn benefited from the addition of several players from the previous term’s Under-16 Welsh Cup winning quadruple stars stepping up to the firsts.

After losing narrowly 3-2 to Pwllheli on the opening afternoon, Bay grabbed that elusive first win with a 7-1 triumph at Caernarfon on September 29.

Numerous fine players came to the fore, not least leading net-finders Mia Rawling, Molly Watkinson and Ffion Evans.

It was still tough for so many 16-year-olds making the leap up to face seniors, but overall Penrhyn handled themselves well.

7th Llanberis: Played 11 Won 4 Drawn 2 Lost 5 GF 30 GA 41 Pts 14 (1.27)

Although finishing up fourth on points accumulated, Llanberis dropped to a final place of seventh under the P-P-G system.

A positive debut season for the Darans, formed mainly from ex-Bethel and Caernarfon Town players.

Player-manager Sioned Phillips was outstanding, with midfielder Charley Davies and left-back Elin Arwen emerging as two fantastic prospects.

Up front, Ffion Mair Roberts was tremendous alongside Awel Fflur Ellis, an ex-Bethesda player who scored a memorable four-goal haul in one game.
Lots of good things to work on.

8th Caernarfon Town: Played 8 Won 2 Drawn 0 Lost 6 GF 18 GA 55 Pts 6 (0.75)

With so many departures in the summer, Caernarfon were left with a very young squad.

Their only wins came against bottom side Holywell, and the Canaries had to endure several heavy defeats.

9th Holywell Town: Played 10 Lost 10 GF 8 GA 102 Pts 0 (0.00)

For this totally new side, the emphasis was on enjoyment – being competitive and working hard, but not getting too bothered about results.

From that point of view it was mission accomplished for the Wellwomen.

They didn’t manage to get a point, but came mighty close in a 3-2 home loss to Caernarfon.

Every one of their goals were greeted with unbridled joy and they earned lots of admirers for their determined attitude.

The likes of Caitlin Hadaway, Leah Davies-Williams, first-ever goalscorer Ruby McGilloway and the experienced Sarah Massey and Talia Jones helped the Wellwomen get plenty out of the season.

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