NORTH WALES WOMEN’S FOOTBALL LEAGUE – MAY 15, 2022
CPD Y Rhyl 1879 3 (Bentley 45+3 & 87; Nattrass 82)
Rhyl 1879 players may not be famous enough to be driven around in a Rolls Royce just yet, but they are more happy to settle for a Bentley.
The Bentley in this case goes by the name of Emily and her two goals today did more than anything to ensure the 1879 ladies are 2021-22 North Wales Women’s League champions.
Not only that – they have done it as invincibles. Played 18 Won 16 Drawn 2 Lost 0 Goals Scored 118 Goals Conceded 13. Almost perfection.
Rhyl could still have lost the title race if they had been beaten today and then NFA had won their final two matches, but that scenario is now diminished.
Today’s tense affair at Bastion Gardens, Prestatyn, was played on a hard pitch and the players often struggled with the high bounce.
A first half of few chances saw Emily Bentley through to score in the eighth minute, but the celebrations were cut short when play was called back for an offside.
Becca Bannister hit one just wide for 1879, while at the other end Ashleigh Mills was not far away with a vicious free kick before Emily Jones’ mazy run ended with a shot which Loz Jones saved well.
The deadlock was broken in the third minute of added time at the end of the half.
NFA’s offside trap, which had been quite effective, was sprung by the pace of Bentley who ran clear and clinically put away her 20th goal of the season.
Amy Webster dragged one off target for the all-blues early in the second half, then NFA keeper Courtney Ingram made a goal-saving tackle to deny Tegan Crockett.
Rachel Lloyd’s 20-yard attempt was fumbled behind for a corner by Loz Jones, then Emily Jones’ dipping effort from the left dropped just over the bar.
At 1-0, with 10 minutes left, it was still anyone’s game. NFA always carry a goal threat, although to their credit Rhyl had defended so superbly well.
However, the picture changed in the 82nd minute when 1879 skipper Rachael Nattrass fired in her team’s second goal from the right. The white and blacks celebrated that goal like they had won the title – and that was pretty much how it was.
In the 87th minute the contest was over when Niomi Taylor crossed low from the left and Bentley made it 3-0 with a smart left-foot finish.
The best team has won the league, but NFA will clinch runners-up if they get a point from their remaining two games and that would be a well-deserved reward for a side which has entertained all season.
Mention must be made of the Rhyl Supporters Association members who sang and chanted throughout the game and really did their club proud.
Singing fans is a very rare thing at North Wales women’s football matches, let’s hope today starts a trend.
You never know – one day we might get the rattle and horn back.
Nothing will ever match Gary Vaughan (Elvis) though and his operatic blast of Sunny Rhyl.
Loz Jones, Saskia Wynne Thomas, Sophie Haywood, Emily Bentley, Laura Williams (Niomi Taylor 59), Rachael Nattrass, Tara Nattrass, Alicia Duke, Tegan Crockett (Cassie Thomas 83), Becca Bannister, Candice Nellist. Subs: Steph Farley, Amy Woodbridge, Elle Evans.
Courtney Ingram, Chloe Evans, Rachel Lloyd, Georgia Spibey, Charlie Badham (Libby McClelland 46), Amy Webster, Ashleigh Mills, Molly Brown (Jess Mills 73), Emily Jones, Grace Bamber, Sade Benjamin. Subs: Rebekah Hansen, Georgie Owen.