Rosie Hughes scored another hat-trick as Wrexham AFC Women overcame a sluggish start to come from behind and beat Llanfair United Ladies.
Having trailed 2-0 after just 11 minutes, Wrexham turned things around with Hughes scoring three and Amber Lightfoot and Rebecca Pritchard also scoring.
The win – Wrexham’s eighth in a row in the Genero Adran North – coupled with Connah’s Quay Nomads’ late defeat to Bethel, means the Red Dragons’ title hopes are now in their own hands with three league games remaining.
After a month without a game due to a couple of postponements, including the weather-related cancellation of this fixture two weeks previously, Wrexham lacked rhythm early on.
Llanfair, themselves on a three-match winning streak going into the game, took full advantage and Tonicha Lloyd ran onto a through ball to slide in the opener on ten minutes.
Just a minute later, it got even worse – Ella Clifton-Stringer brought down a Llanfair player in the area, and Gemma Jones sent Del Morgan the wrong way from the spot.
After the shocking start, however, Wrexham regrouped and Sophie Hodson shot wide on 17 minutes from inside the area, before Hughes volleyed over from Lightfoot’s cross moments later.
Wrexham kept the pressure on, however, and got a goal back on 20 minutes when Lightfoot again found Hughes and this time the prolific strike prodded the ball home.
Lightfoot was central to much of Wrexham’s attacking threat, repeatedly beating her marker on the left wing, and she drove inside and picked out Hodson again on 26 minutes, but again the ex-Corwen forward missed the target.
Hughes spun in the penalty area a minute later, after the ball repeatedly fell loose in the box, but she shot over on the turn.
Hodson then shot straight at the keeper on 33 minutes, as Wrexham enjoyed attack after attack in pursuit of an equaliser.
Finally, the dominance told on 37 minutes when Lightfoot skipped inside and fired in a thoroughly deserved goal – her 15th senior goal of her debut season.
A minute later, Wrexham had completed the turnaround and once again it was Lightfoot and Hughes at the centre of it.
Lightfoot played a perfectly-weighted through ball into the area for Hughes to race on to, and the striker skipped inside – leaving the goalkeeper and defender to collide as they tackled thin air – and finished low.
Ahead at the break, despite their poor start, Wrexham looked to extend their lead in the second period and Hodson headed over from TJ Dickens’ corner on 48 minutes.
The perils of a one-goal lead were laid bare at the other end moments later, however, when the striker skipped in one-on-one and Morgan charged out to keep Wrexham in front.
Wrexham brought Libby Mackenzie on for Lightfoot, after a slight injury, on 56 minutes and Hodson missed another good chance shortly afterwards when she got into the box and fired wide.
Mackenzie’s cross led to the fourth goal just past the hour, however, when Dickens collected the ball, dragged her shot to the far post and Hughes bundled it over the line to seal a hat-trick.
Hodson’s search for a goal went on, coming closest in the 70th minute when she charged down the right and unleashed a rising striker that the keeper tipped onto the post.
But Wrexham’s fifth goal actually came from Pritchard, applying the finishing touches with a powerful strike after excellent work from Phoebe Rintoul to cut inside and lay it off.
Despite more chances late on, Wrexham could not add to their lead but as news filtered through of a late turnaround at Connah’s Quay, the Red Dragons left The Crick knowing their title hopes are now in their hands.
Three wins from their last three games – against Denbigh Town, Pwllheli and Llandudno – would be enough to seal the title regardless of results elsewhere.
With Wrexham on the road for all three, however, it remains all to play for in the Genero Adran North.
Team: Morgan, Clifton-Stringer, Lovett, Sharp (Spearing 70), Rintoul, Dickens, Dutton, Pritchard, Hodson, Lightfoot (Mackenzie 57), Hughes (Buckley 80).