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REPORT | Wrexham AFC Women 6-2 Airbus UK

Rosie Hughes scores another hat-trick as Red Dragons complete league double over Wingmakers

9 January 2022

Rosie Hughes scored a first-half hat-trick as Wrexham AFC Women started 2022 by securing a fifth consecutive league win, with a dominant victory against Airbus at Brymbo.

A late fixture switch did nothing to halt Wrexham's momentum, as they hammered in six first-half goals after an explosive start.

Hughes scored three, Amber Lightfoot two and Rebecca Pritchard one to each continue fine goalscoring seasons as Wrexham stormed into a 6-0 half-time lead against a lacklustre Airbus side.

Tegan Hewitt and Natalie Harrison pulled goals back after the break to restore some pride, capitalising on a slack second-half performance by the Red Dragons, but the damage had long since been done.

Wrexham were on top from the very first whistle, and only a late offside decision stopped Lightfoot going in one-on-one in the third minute after good link-up with Hughes.

A minute later, Hughes won possession and got in on goal, but she could not get the ball out of her feet as she tried to round Shaunacy Kennedy, and Airbus recovered to clear.

On seven minutes, however, Hughes made no mistake. Pritchard volleyed the ball through first time from Kennedy's goal kick, and this time Hughes hit it early - curling over the keeper and in.

Wrexham remained on top too, and Lili Jones crossed for Lightfoot in the tenth minute, who rounded Kennedy but could only fire into the side-netting from a very tight angle.

Hughes turned and shot goalwards on 13 minutes, but Kennedy tipped over one-handed, and TJ Dickens' corner then flashed across the face of goal with no Wrexham player able to get a touch.

The dominance paid off on 16 minutes, however. Hughes pounced on a loose ball, beat her defender and pulled back from the byline for Pritchard to tap in her seventh league goal of the season at the back post.

Hughes doubled her own tally on 20 minutes, running onto Lightfoot's through ball and turning away from her marker to finish low beyond Kennedy.

Pritchard hobbled off shortly afterwards, having been unable to shake a troublesome ankle injury despite her goal and assist, as Libby Mackenzie replaced her.

Still, however, Wrexham continued to dominate. Lili Jones' crossfield pass was inch-perfect for Lightfoot on 27 minutes, but the winger's low, left-footed shot was saved.

Kim Dutton was next to try her luck, with a speculative long-range volley in the 32nd minute when Dickens' free-kick was not cleared, but her shot was saved.

But Wrexham did not have to wait long for their next goal, as Lightfoot made it third time lucky for herself - Hughes turning and finding the youngster, who took on the defedner and finished low from close-range on 35 minutes.

Two minutes later, Lightfoot was celebrating her tenth goal of the season - five of which have come against Airbus. This time, she curled in from long-range, over Kennedy and into the top corner to make it 5-0.

And Hughes' sealed yet another hat-trick - her fifth competitive hat-trick of the season - with three minutes of the half remaining. Lightfoot got in behind on the left and squared for Hughes to tap in - the league top scorer moving to 19 for the season and 29 in all competitions.

Half-time gave Airbus the chance to regroup, and Wrexham were slack after the break. The Wingmakers punished the hosts' slow start too - Hewitt dancing through several tackles and cutting back onto her right foot to score on 49 minutes.

Wrexham's best early chance fell to Dickens two minutes later, with a long-range free-kick effort that was turned just wide.

Dickens turned provider on 58 minutes, when Mackenzie was fouled on the right of the box, but Hughes hooked her volley over at the near post.

Hughes went close twice more on the hour, first when her low shot was blocked by a defender and then, from the resultant corner, when her near-post effort was volleyed off the line.

On 65 minutes, Hughes found Lauren Reese, who squared for Mackenzie, but her low, left-footed shot was saved comfortably.

Mackenzie was in again on 66 minutes, this time on her right foot, but again her shot was too close to Kennedy and the Airbus keeper saved.

Lightfoot could have completed her hat-trick on 76 minutes, after a brilliantly-weighted through ball by Reese, but her low shot was saved.

Airbus pulled another goal back on 87 minutes, however, as Wrexham were punished for more slack defending. A simple ball over the top released Harrison, who finished low past Morgan.

It was a disappointing end to a dominant win, but Wrexham nevertheless made it five consecutive wins in the league - keeping them one point behind leaders Llandudno.

The third-placed Red Dragons face fourth-placed Bethel next weekend - one of two teams to have beaten Wrexham in the league this season.

Though there are five points between the two teams, Bethel have three games in hand - making it a big test of Wrexham's credentials and ambitions at the top of the table.

Line-up: Wrexham (4-2-3-1): Morgan, Rintoul, Sharp (Buckley 85), L.Jones, Roberts, Dutton, Dickens, Pritchard (Mackenzie 22), Reese (Spearing 81), Lightfoot, Hughes


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