Wrexham AFC left it late to claim all three points against Pontypridd United, as Rosie Hughes’ 89th minute winner meant that the Red Dragons closed the gap to second-placed Swansea City.
Pontypridd opened the scoring against the run of play, as Lauren Payne fired into the top corner after 36 minutes.
Hughes responded quickly for Wrexham, and the scores were level just minutes later as she netted her first goal of 2024.
However, Jasmine Turner’s 40-yard free-kick allowed the visitors to restore their lead, only for late goals from Carra Jones and Hughes to turn the game around secure a vital victory for Wrexham.
Steve Dale made one change to the side that secured a 1-0 win over Aberystwyth Town last weekend, as Erin Lovett replaced Amber Lightfoot – meaning a position higher up the pitch for Rebecca Pritchard.
The visitors arrived from South Wales in a confident mood despite their recent results, with narrow losses to Cardiff City and Swansea City in the last two weeks raising the morale of a side who sit bottom of the Genero Adran Premier table.
Pontypridd United got the match underway, but it was Wrexham who started strongest against their southern counterparts, pushing up the pitch at every opportunity.
Wrexham’s first big chance came after 12 minutes, when Lili Jones found Mari Gibbard with a short-corner routine.
The number 27 then shifted it back to Jones, who opened up her right foot and curled an impressive effort goalwards from the far left, but she was denied by the crossbar and the scores remained level.
Just five minutes later, Rosie Hughes as she received Pritchard’s ball from the right-flank, but Hughes’ effort was tame and collected by Klaudia Wojtyczka in the Pontypridd goal.
Despite their positive start at The Rock, the Red Dragons should’ve broken the deadlock after 18 minutes. Carra Jones drove forwards towards goal and unleashed a right-footed strike from the edge of the box that forced Wojtyczka into a massive save, but the keeper couldn’t catch the effort.
A chaotic period ensued from the following rebound, as Hughes seemed to latch onto the ball, only for Wojtyczka to produce more heroics yet again.
It was followed up by yet another wonderful save, this time from Carra Jones’ effort as Wojtyczka’s third stop in a matter of moments kept the deadlock intact.
Lili Jones hit the crossbar for a second time in the first half, this time directly from a corner, as her delivery lofted straight onto the roof of the bar after 27 minutes.
Katie Williams caused Wrexham a scare in the 33rd minute as Del Morgan’s clearance fell into the feet of Williams from 35-yards-out. Pontypridd’s number 12 struck first time from range, as her looping effort
Morgan was called into action minutes later, as she denied Ellie Gunney’s effort from close-range under pressure.
As the visitors started to grow into the match at The Rock, Claire O’Sullivan’s side suddenly found themselves ahead after 36 minutes.
Pontypridd were causing a range of issues from set-pieces, and Wrexham were made to pay for some poor defending as the ball fell into the feet of Lauren Payne, who managed to fire straight into the top-right corner.
Steve Dale’s side found a quick response to going behind, as Rosie Hughes levelled the scores just five minutes later. Hughes was in the right place to arrive onto Carra Jones’ excellent cross, and smashed home from inside the box after 41 minutes for her first goal in 2024.
Hughes then almost doubled her tally for the afternoon, as she struck the crossbar in additional time with a wicked effort, forcing Wrexham to go into the interval with the scores level.
Neither side could find an early advantage in the second half, as the teams were evenly matched despite Wrexham holding most of the possession.
The Red Dragons were handed a cruel setback in the 67th minute, as Jasmine Turner’s free-kick from 40-yards out flew into the top-right corner, past Morgan to allowing Pontypridd to regain their advantage in North Wales.
However, the hosts continued to push for an all-important goal, and they eventually got their rewards in the 75th minute as Carra Jones netted the equaliser.
Lili Jones found Hughes with a fine ball over the top, and Wrexham’s number nine forced Wojtyczka into yet another brilliant save. Carra Jones was first to the rebound, and her effort was also denied, but eventually Jones managed to bundle the ball in, much to the delight of the home support.
Dale brought on Ava Suckley and Libby Mackenzie as his side continued to push for a winner, but they were frustrated by a resilient Pontypridd side.
Just as time was running out, Hughes produced a crucial goal to complete the comeback and hand Wrexham a vital three points, with results elsewhere going in favour of the hosts with Swansea City having dropped points against Aberystwyth Town.
It was Lili Jones who found the forward with a brilliant through ball as Hughes rounded the keeper under pressure before firing into an empty net to secure her brace, and a hard-fought victory against Pontypridd United at the Rock.
Wrexham AFC: Morgan, Lovett, Allen (C) (R. Jones 68’), Sharp, Davies, Dickens (Mackenzie 82’), L. Jones, Pritchard (Pritchard 61’), Gibbard, C. Jones (Suckley 82’), Hughes.
Sub not used: Bolland.