Big match preview – Sunday’s Clash of the Titans: CPD Y Rhyl 1879 v NFA (2 pm at Belle Vue)

Rebecca Bannister (right – white and black) is a midfield magician who could be a key player for Rhyl 1879 on Sunday.

North Wales Women’s Football League table – up to and including January 30, 2022

CPD Y RHYL 1879 v NFA

Sunday, February 6, 2022 – kick off 2 pm at Belle Vue

While for many the Welsh Cup will take centre stage today perhaps the biggest game in North Wales women’s football will be the clash of the giants between CPD Y Rhyl 1879 and NFA.

Unbeaten and top of the North Wales Women’s League, 1879 could face their biggest test of the season yet against their fellow town team.

NFA, in just their second competitive season as a club, are on a winning streak of nine matches, having beaten tier 2 Genero Adran North teams Pwllheli and Airbus in cups during that run.

The last team to beat the all-blues were Sunday’s opponents Rhyl 1879 – a 5-1 Welsh Cup success four months ago.

NFA are much-improved since then, having notched 55 goals in those nine successive victories.

In Emily Jones, Sade Benjamin and Amy Webster they have one of the best attacking triumvirates in North Wales – 42 goals between them over 13 matches.

Emily Jones (left) is NFA’s top scorer on 16 goals. She first made her name as a teenager at Rhyl, scoring two goals as a substitute in a memorable Welsh Cup win over Caernarfon Town. Picture: STEVEN JONES

Coached by Andy Lloyd and Richie Ingram, the Rhyl-based club also possess some outstanding youngsters who are coming along in leaps and bounds.

Rhyl 1879 assembled a fantastic squad last summer which is paying big dividends. New manager Darren Wardle is undoubtedly benefiting from having the experience of former Rhyl stalwarts Joy Jamieson and Cassie Thomas in the dugout.

Rhyl have yet to lose in the league, and their only loss in 12 games across all competitions came against Pwllheli in the Welsh Cup, that by a narrow 1-0 scoreline.

1879 have amassed 67 goals in those dozen matches. Top-scorer is Candice Nellist, a star player with Connah’s Quay Nomads during their run to the Welsh Cup semis two seasons ago, on 17.

But pretty much the whole team can produce goals. Emily Bentley (12), captain Rachael Nattrass (9), Niomi Taylor (8), plus Rebecca Bannister and Tegan Crockett (7 apiece) is evidence of that.

Just two points separates the teams in the NWWFL – and NFA could pass 1879 if they won their game in hand.

Rhyl totally dominated in their 5-1 Welsh Cup beating of NFA back in October 2021, but will it be a different story on Sunday?

While 1879 have swept aside many opponents this term, they have been held twice at home in the league by Amlwch Town and Northop Hall. NFA have already beaten Amlwch once and Hall twice in 2021-22.

Giving Sunday’s fixture extra spice is the fact most of NFA’s squad have represented Rhyl teams at some stage.

The likes of Webster, Jones, goalkeeper Yasmin Mills, Ashleigh Mills and Rachel Lloyd all played for the former Rhyl FC in the Welsh Premier League (Rhyl FC disbanded in 2020 and the current 1879 team was born in the town soon after).

NFA coach Andy Lloyd also used to carry out the same role at Rhyl FC.

It should be an absolute cracker, so let’s hope there is no unavoidable cancellation, as has happened so often in North Wales football this term, with the spectre of Covid still in the shadows.

These two teams are a credit to tier 3 – they should be in tier 2. Hopefully next season at least one of them will be. Let battle commence. 🥅⚽❤

Squads

CPD Y Rhyl 1879

Lauren Jones, Megan Robinson, Steph Farley, Sophie Haywood, Rebecca Bannister, Rosie O’Brien, Candice Nellist, Laura Williams, Rachael Nattrass (c), Saskia Wynne-Thomas, Niomi Taylor, Emily Bentley, Tegan Crockett, Amy Woodbridge, Alicia Duke, Elle Evans, Trisha Harley, Joy Jamieson.

NFA

Yasmin Mills, Courtney Ingram, Holly Rees, Chloe Evans. Grace Bamber, Rachel Lloyd (c), Georgia Spibey, Stella Windsor, Jessica Mills, Amy Webster, Molly Brown, Emily Jones, Sade Benjamin, Libby McClelland, Megan Pursell, Lucy Sass-Davies, Ashleigh Mills, Emilie Hulme, Rebekah Hansen.

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