Rhyl-based NFA women’s team have not faced the easiest of starts to their footballing life, but now they are really beginning to motor.
Formed for the 2019-20 season, they joined North Wales League Division Two and met a much-strengthened Amlwch Town in their first-ever competitive fixture, losing 9-0 at home.
This was just a temporary setback. The players were getting to know each other and the opposition were outstanding.
NFA soon got going, winning six out of nine league games before the season ended early in March 2020 because of coronavirus.
It would have been a struggle to complete the campaign anyway as so many matches had been called off due to inclement weather – and there was a huge fixtures backlog.
Nonetheless, Andy Lloyd’s team had achieved third place and there was much cause for optimism.
Unfortunately, Covid continued to have its evil way and the 2020-21 season was lost completely.
Frustrated yet undeterred, NFA stayed together, did the drills and entered the current 2021-22 campaign with renewed belief.
Not only had they signed proven goalscorer Sade Benjamin from Rhyl, the team had also recruited some new players and benefited from some of the successful under-16 squad coming of age.
NFA are far from just one team – they have a title-winning men’s senior XI and a number of successful junior sides throughout the age groups.
The senior women began this season as members of the revamped one-division North Wales League.
And again, they started off badly, going down 6-2 at home to Bangor 1876 in their opening game.
However, things soon clicked, to such an extent NFA have won all eight league matches since and sit pretty in third spot.
They avenged that loss to 1876 by inflicting an identical 6-2 defeat on the Bangor side last month.
NFA have also beaten Welsh Cup quarter-finalists Pwllheli 4-3 away in the NWCFA Challenge Cup.
In their only meeting with fellow town team CPD Rhyl 1879 this term, NFA lost 5-1 in the Welsh Cup.
A disappointment, but Rhyl are top of the table and a superb team. The two league matches between the pair should make for good viewing.
One of NFA’s strengths is they do not rely on one or two forwards for all the goals.
While 2019-20 joint top-scorer Emily Jones has netted on 15 occasions, new girl Benjamin has bagged 14 and Amy Webster 11, the likes of Stella Windsor (7) and ever-inspirational skipper Rachel Lloyd (6) have made key contributions.
The team is stronger for having two quality keepers available in Yasmin Mills and Courtney Ingram.
Manager Lloyd, coach of the Prestatyn Girls Under-16 Welsh Cup winning side of 2014-15, is also benefiting from working alongside important management addition Richie Ingram.
The NFA of 2021-22 has more strength in depth than the first season version and that can only be a good thing with so many strong teams in the league.
Other highlights of the current campaign so far include an away win at an Amlwch side – albeit a much-changed one – which hammered them in 2019-20 and NFA racked up a record 13-0 victory at a still developing Holywell last Sunday.
Amlwch are presently second in the table and NFA are the only side to beat them in the league this season.
With 1879 also doing so well, women’s football in the Rhyl area is thriving.
NFA RESULTS AND SCORERS 2021-22
Sep 5: Bangor 1876 (home – league) 2-6 (Rachel Lloyd, Sade Benjamin)
Sep 19: Northop Hall (home – Welsh Cup) 3-1 (Emily Jones, Ffion Evans, Sade Benjamin)
Sep 26: Amlwch Town (away – league) 3-1 (Sade Benjamin, Amy Webster, Molly Brown)
Oct 3: CPD Y Rhyl 1879 (neutral – Welsh Cup) 1-5 (Amy Webster)
Oct 10: Llanystumdwy (away – league) 5-2 (Emily Jones 2, Amy Webster, Rachel Lloyd, Stella Windsor)
Oct 24: Llangefni Town (home – league) 7-0 (Emily Jones 3, 1 pen; Sade Benjamin 3, Stella Windsor)
Nov 7: Welshpool Town (home – league) 3-1 (Amy Webster, Stella Windsor, Sade Benjamin)
Nov 14: Trearddur Bay (away – league) 10-1 (Emily Jones 3, Amy Webster 3, Stella Windsor 2, Georgia Spibey, Sade Benjamin)
Nov 21: Pwllheli (away – NWCFA Challenge Cup) 4-3 (Rachel Lloyd 2, Emily Jones, Sade Benjamin)
Dec 12: Bangor 1876 (away – league 6-2 (Emily Jones 3, Stella Windsor, Sade Benjamin, Georgia Spibey)
Jan 16: Northop Hall (home – league) 4-1 (Sade Benjamin 2, Amy Webster, Emily Jones)
Jan 23: Holywell (away – league) 13-0 (Amy Webster 3, Sade Benjamin 2, Rachel Lloyd 2, Emily Jones, Stella Windsor, Megan Pursell pen, Ashleigh Mills, Jess Mills, Molly Brown)
Played 9 Won 8 Lost 1 Goals For 53 Goals Against 14
Played 3 Won 2 Lost 1 Goals For 8 Goals Against 9
Played 12 Won 10 Lost 2 Goals For 61 Goals Against 23
GOALSCORERS (61 GOALS)
Emily Jones 15
Sade Benjamin 14
Amy Webster 11
Stella Windsor 7
Rachel Lloyd 6
Molly Brown 2
Georgia Spibey 2
Ffion Evans 1
Megan Pursell 1
Ashleigh Mills 1
Jess Mills 1
NFA RESULTS 2019-20
Sep 8: Amlwch Town (home – North Wales League Division Two) 0-9
Sep 15: Caernarfon Town (away – NWLD2) 7-1 ( (Emily Jones 3, Rachel Lloyd 2, Amy Webster 2)
Sep 22: Bethel (away – NEWFA Cup) 2-5 (Rebecca Bannister 2, 1 pen)
Oct 6: Pwllheli (away – NWLD2) 3-4 (Emily Jones, Rachel Lloyd 2)
Oct 13: Mountain Rangers (home – NWLD2) 2-1 (Emily Jones, Ashleigh Mills)
Oct 27: Llanberis (away – NWLD2) 2-0 (Amy Webster, Emily Jones)
Nov 3: Penrhyn Bay (home – NWLD2) 6-3 (Jessica Mills, Amy Webster 3, Rebecca Bannister, Emily Jones)
Dec 8: Llanfair United (away – Betty Pickering Cup) 1-4 (Amy Webster)
Jan 5: Connah’s Quay Nomads (home – NWLD2) 3-5 (Rachel Lloyd, Emily Jones, Amy Webster) – Abandoned 78 minutes due to injuries to two NFA players (result stood)
Jan 19: Caernarfon Town (h – NWLD2) 6-1 (Amy Chesters, Ashleigh Mills 3, Amy Webster 2)
Feb 9: Llanberis (h – NWLD2) 3-2 (Emily Jones 2, Amy Chesters)
Played 9 Won 6 Lost 3 Goals For 32 Goals Against 26
Played 2 Lost 2 Goals For 3 Goals Against 9
Played 11 Won 6 Lost 5 Goals For 35 Goals Against 35
GOALSCORERS (35 GOALS)
10 – Emily Jones, Amy Webster
5 – Rachel Lloyd
4 – Ashleigh Mills
3 – Rebecca Bannister
2 – Amy Chesters
1 – Jessica Mills
NFA OVERALL STATS (2019-20 to JAN 23, 2022)
Played 18 Won 14 Drawn 0 Lost 4 Goals For 85 Goals Against 40
Played 5 Won 2 Lost 3 Goals For 11 Goals Against 18
Played 23 Won 16 Drawn 0 Lost 7 Goals For 96 Goals Against 58
ALL-TIME GOALSCORERS (96 GOALS)
25 – Emily Jones
21 – Amy Webster
14 – Sade Benjamin
11 – Rachel Lloyd
7 – Stella Windsor
5 – Ashleigh Mills
3 – Rebecca Bannister
2 – Amy Chesters, Jessica Mills, Molly Brown, Georgia Spibey
1 – Ffion Evans, Megan Pursell