Llandudno ladies lift NWCFA Challenge Cup in a seven-goal thriller

Well done to the 2021-22 NWCFA Challenge Cup winners – Llandudno. Back row (left to right): Sioned Phillips, Ceri Slaney, Rebecca Jarvis-Evans, Ella Jones, Maisy Johnson, Indie Hassell (I think – hidden), Maddie Williams, Susie James, Hannah Smith, Sofie Owen (captain). Front row (L-r): Cat Jones, Claire Colville, Madison Williams, Stacey Tradewell, Bethan Smith, Ffion Owen, Sara Williams. Picture and Report: DAVE JONES

NORTH WALES COAST FA WOMEN’S CHALLENGE CUP FINAL 2021-22

Llandudno 4 (Tradewell 16 pen & 45+7; Slaney 45+4, Maddie Williams 45+8)
NFA 3 (Benjamin 43 & 45+13; A Mills 45+12)

It happens so often….

A game which produces a glut of first half goals then delivers none in the second.

But entertainment value was rich for the whole 90 minutes (and then some) as Llandudno lifted the NWCFA Women’s Challenge Cup at Bastion Gardens, Prestatyn on Sunday.

The Tier 2 Ardal North champions were firm favourites to beat Tier 3 North Wales League high-flyers NFA, yet after going 4-1 down in first half stoppage time and the game looking lost, the Rhyl side battled back to be just one down at the break.

And that made for a tense second half with Llandudno unable to beat replacement keeper Courtney Ingram again, while NFA often posed a threat on the counter.

NFA made a great start, forcing three corners in the opening few minutes, the last of which nearly produced a goal. Ashleigh Mills also went close with a deflected left-foot strike.

In the seventh minute there was a big blow for the Rhyl team.

Keeper Yasmin Mills was left in agony on the ground after Maddie Williams charged down her attempted clearance.

Ceri Slaney looked set to score from the loose ball, but the very impressive Molly Brown produced a fine block and then play was stopped and suspended for several minutes.

Yasmin Mills had to leave the field after treatment, but fortunately in Ingram the all-blues had a regular keeper on the bench as a substitute.

The deadlock was broken in the 26th minute after Ingram spilled a Tradewell effort behind for a corner.

From a low flag-kick played short into the right-side of the box, Ffion Owen was chopped down by Ashleigh Mills and referee Craig Griffiths awarded a penalty.

Tradewell made no mistake from the spot.

End-to-end action followed, Ingram making a fine stop from Slaney before Sade Benjamin looked set to equalise, but was called back for an alleged foul – debatable.

Slaney was through one-on-one with Ingram, but her shot straight at the keeper was nonetheless kept out well, then Amy Webster went close for NFA.

Maddie Williams’ strike at goal lacked power and was easy for Ingram, then Tradewell’s thunderbolt free kick rattled the post.

On 43 minutes came the equaliser. Mills broke dynamically down the left and her firm cross was turned home under pressure by Benjamin.

After four injury stoppages in the first half, 13 minutes were to be added on. In this spell FIVE goals were scored.

An illegal pass-back led to an indirect free kick inside the box for Tudno, but Tradewell’s effort was deflected wide.

Slaney took the corner right-footed from the left and the ball dipped beautifully inside the far post to make it 2-1.

Three minutes later, Tradewell celebrated her 20th goal of the season when a left-foot shot from the midfielder was fumbled into the net by Ingram.

Just a minute later, Slaney crossed from the left, Ingram pushed Maddie Williams’ header onto the post and out, but Williams was quickest to the rebound to smash home her 32nd goal this term.

NFA heads could easily have gone down at this stage, but not a bit of it.

Ashleigh Mills scored the goal of the match in the 12th added minute, a trademark left-foot missile from outside the box.

Seconds later a weak back-pass made it easy for Benjamin to put away her 25th goal of the campaign.

HALF-TIME: Llandudno 4 NFA 3

The second half was a different game altogether with both defences determined to avoid a repeat of their generosity in that opening stanza.

It was so nearly 4-4 in the 52nd minute when Llandudno keeper Sara Williams came for a near post corner from Emily Jones, missed it and the ball bounced back off the post when it could so easily have crept in.

The rest of the half was mainly about Llandudno attacking, but their finishing was awry.

Slaney and Maddie Williams both hit firm shots at Ingram which the keeper held efficiently.

Ingram also kept out a Tradewell stinger, but the keeper should not have been given a chance when substitute Maisy Johnson played a slick one-two with Maddie Williams only to gift the ball to the NFA custodian.

Ffion Owen and Johnson both fired rockets just wide before the end.

The right winners on the day, but a tremendous effort from NFA, who were a credit to the North Wales League.

TEAMS

Llandudno

Sara Williams, Hannah Smith, Madison Williams, Rebecca Jarvis-Evans, Stacey Tradewell, Maddie Williams (Susie James 88), Sioned Phillips, Sofie Owen (c), Ceri Slaney, Ffion Owen, Bethan Smith (Maisy Johnson 55). Subs: Cat Jones, Indie Hassall, Claire Colville.

NFA

Yasmin Mills (Courtney Ingram 15), Chloe Evans, Georgia Spibey, Stella Windsor, Charlie Badham (Libby McClelland 90+1), Amy Webster, Ashleigh Mills, Molly Brown, Emily Jones, Grace Bamber, Sade Benjamin. Subs: Rebekah Hansen.

OFFICIAL NWCFA PLAYER OF THE MATCH

Georgia Spibey (NFA)

GRASSROOTS NORTH WALES PLAYERS OF THE MATCH

Llandudno: Stacey Tradewell – two goals, could have had 4 or 5, majestic on the ball, skills, great tackling and sublime passes.
NFA: Ashleigh Mills – scored a wonder goal and was always driving the team forward with pace and power.

SPECIAL MENTION

NFA – Molly Brown: Put in some great blocks and tackles in defence, especially in the second half, as well as clearing the danger many times
Llandudno – Maisy Johnson: Really impressive in attack when she came on. Setting up chances and should have scored herself.

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