Dave Jones: 10 best women’s football matches I’ve covered in North Wales

Emily Jones (right) made a dramatic impact when she scored twice as a sub for Rhyl in a 3-2 victory over Caernarfon in the 2016-17 Welsh Cup

1 Rhyl 3 Caernarfon Town 2
FAW Women’s Welsh Cup round one – October 2016

Sixteen-year-old super sub Emily Jones turned this epic Welsh Cup clash in Rhyl’s favour with two late goals at Belle Vue.

The Welsh Premier Lilywhites were indebted to their teenage star for seeing off the stiff challenge of North Wales League leaders Caernarfon.

The hosts took a 15th minute lead when Sue Harrison slipped the ball past Cofis keeper Elena Julio with great composure.

Caernarfon levelled in style in the 28th minute.

Ffion Owen won possession with a fierce midfield tackle and passed to Catrin Thomas.
Thomas then combined with Heledd Evans before the former Llandudno player led the home defence a merry dance, working her way into the box and netting right-footed for her 19th goal of the season.

Only the brilliance of Julio denied Rhyl further goals before half time, denying both Paige Williams and Ashleigh Mills twice.

Rhyl were stunned when the visitors went 2-1 up in the opening minute of the second period.

Caernarfon skipper Ffion Owen let fly from 25 yards and found the net with a beauty.

After that Town looked fairly comfortable until in the 78th minute home sub Emily Jones robbed veteran defender Katie Davies and finished smartly for 2-2.

The home side were now pressing hard for a winner and it came in added time when a deep cross from the left by Mills was walloped into the roof of the net by Emily Jones at the back post.

2 Amlwch Town 2 Wrexham 1
North Wales League Supplementary Cup Final – May 22, 2019

Has there even been a happier winning team than Amlwch Town Ladies? Picture: Gethin Jones

Amlwch’s women secured a first major trophy on an emotional night at Belle Vue, Rhyl.

In a first half of few clear chances, Wrexham took the lead on 35 minutes through Savannah Palin via a Shannon Lear cross and stayed in front till the break.

Two goals in five minutes after the break settled it.

On 56 minutes, Cerys Gadd used her strength to win possession, worked her way into the box and replacement keeper Alex Jones could only help the midfielder’s shot into the net.

Five minutes later, Lexi Crawley smartly beat the offside trap, got goal-side of her marker, and lobbed the keeper cleverly to make it 2-1.

A brilliant save from Amlwch keeper Ceri Pritchard from Palin ensured there were no more goals.

The after-match celebrations were something else.

3 Wales 5 Israel 0
Euro 2013 Qualifier – June 20, 2012

Wales’ Hannah Keryakoplis in action against Denmark during the opening Group A match of the UEFA Women’s Under-19 Championship Wales 2013 tournament at Parc y Scarlets. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The first-ever women’s football match I covered live – and it was a happy occasion.

First half hat-trick hero Natasha Harding inspired Wales to a convincing victory over Israel at Wrexham’s Racecourse stadium.

Wales could not have wished for a better start as in just the third minute Watford’s Sarah Wiltshire chipped a perfect pass from the left into Harding who made the most of ample space to fire confidently past advancing keeper Merav Shamir.

In the 28th minute Wiltshire lofted in a superb corner from the left which full-back Sophie Ingle flicked on and Harding was there again to nod in from close range.

And in the 36th minute it was the same combination again as Wiltshire’s perfectly flighted corner from the right was headed home by an unmarked Harding for her hat-trick.

The home team began the second period as positively as they did the first and on 49 minutes master provider Wiltshire turned scorer when she lashed home a left foot scorcher in off the post.

In the 71st minute Harding this time laid on the assist, threading a nice pass into the box for North Walian Hannah Keryakoplis to swivel smartly and fire beyond the despairing Shamir.

4 Llandudno 4 Denbigh Town 0
Welsh Cup semi-final – March 20, 2016

Katie Bowe of Llandudno (stripes) takes on Denbigh in the 2015-16 Welsh Cup semi. Picture: Dewi Evans

Llandudno made history as they reached their first-ever Welsh Cup final at the expense of Denbigh.

Welsh Premier Tudno started strong favourites to get past Town, reigning champions of the level below North Wales Women’s League.

Llandudno got off to a flyer when Stacey Tradewell’s long-range effort was fumbled into the net by Netty Jones.

Katie Bowe clattered the post before there were two goals in quick succession as Denbigh’s Emily Morris got the last touch for a 27th minute own-goal, then talented centre-back Jemila Bukari finished a well-taken solo effort on the half-hour.

It took just seven minutes after the break for Llandudno to score again as striker Rosie Hughes finished clinically.

A special memory personally from this game – it was the last time I saw the late Mike Hargraves, former Denbigh Town Reserves assistant-manager.

As always, a lovely smile and an hello from Mike, how I’ll always remember him.

5 Rhyl 3 Bethel 4
FAW Women’s Welsh Cup second round – November 24, 2019

Ffion Williams (left) and her captain Gwenno Gibbard Bolton

While seeing some of Bethel’s talented youngsters in action for the first time was a major highlight, the star of the show in this Welsh Cup clash at a gloomy Rhyl was hat-trick hero – the amazing Ffion Williams.

In a first half of few chances, the deadlock was broken when Niomi Taylor had the rare luxury of space to turn and lash into the left-hand corner to put Rhyl ahead.

The second 45 minutes saw the visiting side on top from the start.

It was no surprise when a low delivery 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 against the run of play.

Sioned Hughes-Williams was unable to hold a Sade Benjamin free kick and Taylor pounced for her second.

Extra time was needed and the additions of Katie Houghton and Angharad Evans perked up the Bethel attack even further.

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 Erin Maloney, who netted clinically for 4-2.

Sophie Haywood pulled one back, but Bethel were to hold on for the spoils.

6 NFA 2 Mountain Rangers 1
North Wales Women’s League Division Two – Oct 13, 2019

NFA were superb on this day against Mountain Rangers

This match produced a surprise result as a Mountain Rangers side top of the table and with a 100% record were beaten by a hugely motivated NFA at the Rhyl Leisure Centre pitch.

On a muddy surface, Rangers threatened first when top scorer Katie Bowe’s free kick forced NFA keeper Yasmin Mills into a magnificent fingertip save.

The home team sprang to life with a few efforts before the visiting Lamas looked set to score when Bowe released Lisa Thomas on goal, but her powerful strike hit the top of the bar.

Then on 37 minutes the deadlock was broken. Rangers were awarded a free kick 35 yards out from goal for handball and Bowe blasted a trademark shot beyond the reach of Mills and into the top of the net.

NFA refused to be rattled and levelled in the 41st minute.

Emily Jones received the ball around 35 yards out, saw the keeper slightly off her line and sent a beautifully judged right foot shot over Lacey and into the net.

NFA began the second half in determined fashion, Amy Webster twice denied by good stops from Lacey, while at the other end Mills went down well to foil Thomas at her near post.

The winner arrived on 73 minutes when Ashleigh Mills, who on the day after her 21st birthday had looked tidy and menacing down the left since coming on as a substitute, hit a magnificent shot from 30 yards which Lacey was unable to save.

There was little response from Rangers and NFA deservedly took the points.

7 Kinmel Bay 3 Bethel 3
(after extra time – replay needed)
Betty Pickering Cup quarter-final – April 20, 2017

Connie Sheridan (light blue) scored for Kinmel Bay against Bethel

A cracking cup tie which featured six goals needed to be replayed as the light was considered too poor for a penalty shoot-out.
Kinmel Bay led 3-1 at the interval and looked to be heading into the semi-finals before a late fightback from Bethel forced extra time.

In the 12th minute, Kinmel took the lead when skipper Charlotte Miliziano won the ball in midfield and released Niomi Taylor to score.

Eight minutes later, poor defending by Bethel allowed Taylor to lash in a second.

Leonie Prytherch hit back for the visitors on 35 minutes, but Bay led 3-1 at half time after Connie Sheridan headed in a Miliziano corner.

After the break, Bethel struggled to make an impact in attack until in the 77th minute Sioned Phillips scored with a 20-yard curler.

Skipper Gwenno Gibbard then made it 3-3 from an 81st minute corner.

Only Becky Bott’s goalkeeping heroics denied Bethel a winner, outstanding sub Alaw Jones a particular threat for the travellers.

Both sides went close in extra time, Kinmel’s Kelly Prior hitting the post and sub Amy Woodbridge’s shot brilliantly kept out by Hughes, while Llinos Jones’ volley forced a magnificent one-handed save from Bott.

The replay was held a week later at Y Morfa Leisure Centre ground, Kinmel Bay, and Bethel won 4-2 on penalties.

8 Rhyl Development 1 Bethesda Athletic 5
North Wales Women’s League Division Two – Sep 2018

Katie Midwinter was the stand-out player

A first proper chance to get a close-up view of the talents of Bethesda captain Katie Midwinter.

I was not disappointed as she scored a stunning second half hat-trick to see off Rhyl.

Pesda were playing their first match in Division Two of the North Wales League and celebrated a 5-1 victory at Ffordd Derwen.

Midwinter, who left Bethel after 10 years to help develop her home town club, was in scintillating form, while other goals came from former Wales and Reading forward Chloe Hughes and defender Hollie Beddell.
Catrin Davies replied for Rhyl.

Bethesda looked like champions from day one – and so they proved to be. Pity their story was such a short one.

9 Rhyl 2 Llandudno 5
Welsh Premier Women’s League – Sunday, October 29, 2017

Louisha Doran was different class for Llandudno at Belle Vue in a 5-2 win in October 2017

Llandudno’s former Everton prospect Louisha Doran made it eight goals in three league matches with a double in a thrilling victory at Rhyl.

The afternoon almost started disastrously for Wales international Doran as she was injured challenging Rhyl keeper Yasmin Mills to a 50-50 ball.

Doran was down receiving treatment for a few minutes but was able to continue.

Both sides threatened before in the 41st minute Rhyl deservedly took the lead with a route one goal.

Mills’ long kick was missed by the Tudno back-line and Amy Webster raced clear to apply a deadly finish.

Whatever was said during Llandudno’s half-time team-talk certainly had the desired effect.

In the opening minute, Katie Bowe’s exquisite pass released Sofie Owen, who was denied by the bravery of Mills, but the ball ran loose for Kelsey Davies to knock in the equaliser.

Bowe thumped a left-footer against the post before in the 52nd minute Jordanne Greenough drilled a fierce cross into the box and Doran volleyed in clinically for 2-1.

Paige Williams went close to levelling when she cut in from the left but her firm shot was well dealt with by Tudno stopper Rebecca Elliott.

On 61 minutes a deft touch by Bowe released Doran through to finish smartly and put the travellers in complete command.

Soon after keeper Mills had to leave the field due to an earlier injury and Webster replaced her between the posts.

Webster’s first job was to pick the ball out of the net as Owen thundered into the roof of the net from close range following a low centre by Davies.

Goal number five arrived on 74 minutes when a curling Bowe free kick from the right dipped in under the bar.

In the 87th minute Rhyl replied through Caroline Gardner, but a well-deserved win for Llandudno in a tremendous advert for North Wales women’s football.

10 NFA 3 Llanberis 2
North Wales Women’s League Division Two – Feb 2, 2020

Charley Davies on the ball for Llanberis at Coronation Gardens, Rhyl, versus NFA last season

I did not get to cover many matches in the 2019-20 season, but this was one of the best.

Llanberis got off to a flying start, almost taking a second-minute lead when Ffion Roberts was put clear, but stand-in keeper Amy Webster raced off her line and managed to avert the danger.

The deadlock was broken in the 21st minute when the visitors failed to clear a ball into the six-yard box from the right and NFA striker Emily Jones applied the finish.

Rachel Lloyd almost added a second from a free kick but a leaping Jamie Boyd managed to tip the ball onto the crossbar.

Webster then saved well from point blank range to deny Ffion Roberts.

In the 37th minute NFA went two-up, Amy Chesters showing amazing determination on the left before finishing brilliantly from close to the byline.

The start of the second half saw a total change in the complexion of the game as Beris came out all guns blazing and NFA appeared a little disjointed, perhaps affected by injuries to defender Llinos Hughes and midfield ace Rachel Lloyd.

Lloyd recovered, but for the second half was moved into defence with eventual great effect.

In the 49th minute Ffion Roberts drilled home a fine shot from the edge of the box to halve the arrears.

Then in the 54th minute Charley Davies made it 2-2 with a magnificent free kick.

Fired-up Llanberis pushed for another, but NFA firmed up at the back and gradually began to mount some attacks of their own.

Then on 69 minutes Emily Jones produced a brilliant effort that was to prove the winner.

Jess Mills almost made it 4-2 when she went on a remarkable mazy run from her own half into the opposing box, but Boyd kept out her eventual shot.

Webster pulled off the save of the match to push away an Ellis strike and ensure the hosts took the win.

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