Rosie Hughes maintained her remarkably prolific form as Wrexham enjoyed an emphatic home victory over Y Felinheli, setting up a massive match at Connah’s Quay next weekend.
Mari Gibbard made an impressive debut, as her partnership with Kim Dutton in midfield enabled Wrexham to take control of a game which was won comfortably despite the disruption caused by a trio of injuries.
Although the away team showed threat on the break with pace of Jordanne Greenough up front, Wrexham dominated the first half.
Lauren McCaffrey did well to manufacture an early chance on goal, but her shot was too straight, and moments later, she tried another shot which rebounded off the post.
However, the reprieve was temporary for the visitors as by Amber Lightfoot opened the scoring in the 7th minute, bursting clear and finishing emphatically. By the 11th minute the lead was doubled: Rosie Hughes typically striking with venom following a fine pass by Libby McKenzie.
Hughes went close again when a driven shot across the goalkeeper was well parried low to her left by Catrin Beech. The duel between the Wrexham goal machine and Y Felinheli’s young goalkeeper was now joined, and Beech would perform admirably to thwart the home team’s onslaught.
McKenzie nearly hit the net with a volley after Hughes had teed her up, and moments later Hughes thought she’d scored, but was denied by a tight offside decision. Two minutes later she did have her second, though. Lightfoot was the creator this time, and Hughes capitalised with a low finish.
A fantastic ball over the top by Katie Sharp then sent McCaffrey clear, but she was denied by a fine recovery tackle by Kelly Ann Jones, and the winger’s frustration was compounded soon afterwards when she picked up an injury and had to be replaced by Sophie Hodson. Three minutes after her introduction, Hodson was on the scoresheet, tucking away Mia Roberts’ cross after Beech had saved well from MacKenzie.
Further injury disruption was to follow for Steve Dale’s side as Lili Jones had to be replaced following a heavy tackle, and substitute Ruby Jones immediately proved her worth with an excellent double block after some rare Y Felinheli pressure.
Within a minute of the restart, Hughes completed her hat-trick. A glorious cross on the run by Lightfoot allowed her to score from six yards with a diving header. Three minutes later she might have added a brilliant solo goal as she turned her marker and dribbled into the box, her low shot denied by Beech’s outstretched leg.
Beech then had to save bravely at Hughes’ feet when Sharp’s free kick from the flank nearly carried through to the striker, while at the other end Ruby Jones made another impressive intervention, executing a fabulous tackle to halt Greenough in her tracks as she threatened to break through.
Midway through the second half, Wrexham made a triple substitution, one of which was enforced after Hodson had to go off following a clash of heads. While the team adapted to the alterations, Y Felinheli had their best spell of the match. Substitute Tonicha Dickens had to make a crucial intervention to halt an attack, but within a minute the visitors had scored anyway, as Katie Midwinter turned adroitly in the left channel and drove across the face of goal for Greenough to score from close range with a low, controlled volley.
Y Felinheli’s brief renaissance ended emphatically in the last ten minutes as they appeared to tire and were repeatedly opened up. The drama began when Hughes was booked for dissent after disputing an offside flag which looked very harsh. Clearly frustrated, she sought to take it out on the defenders, receiving the ball in the left and setting off on a memorable run which ended in a dinked finish from a tight angle dropping inches wide of the far post.
The sixth goal finally came with five minutes remaining. Hughes wriggled free once more, and had a shot which was well saved. However, Lily Whitefoot was alert and smashed the ball emphatically into the roof of the net.
Within a minute, it was 7-1. An excellent move began at the back as Wrexham recirculated the ball patiently from left to right, where Megan Buckley made headway before laying it off to Dickens, whose ball over the top was met by Hughes. This time her run was perfectly timed, and she finished coolly.
Moments later came the 8th. Once again Hughes times her run beautifully, and although Beech made another fine save, the ball ricocheted cruelly onto Llio Henshaw and into the net.
Hughes was eager to inflict more punishment, and was sharp to grab a replacement ball to take a quick throw to Dickens, whose excellent cross was met by Whitefoot’s head, but her effort was off target. From the goal kick Whitefoot threatened again, winning the ball and driving into the area. As she beat Jody Cain the defender made contact with her, but she stayed on her feet and drove in a powerful shot, which was saved.
Wrexham: F. Jones, Pritchard (Buckley 68), Sharp, L. Jones (R. Jones 39), Roberts, Dutton, Gibbard, McCaffrey (Hodson 33 (Whitefoot 68), MacKenzie, Lightfoot (Dickens 68), Hughes.
Y Felinheli: Beech, Huws, Henshaw, K. Jones, Cain, Greeouugh, Midwinter. S. Jones, Fflur Williams, Ffion Williams, A.N. Other.
Bookings; Pritchard, Hughes
Referee: Keith Ottley