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REPORT | TNS 2–3 Wrexham

Wrexham stage stunning derby-day comeback to win in Shropshire

24 January 2024

Match Reports

REPORT | TNS 2–3 Wrexham

Wrexham stage stunning derby-day comeback to win in Shropshire

24 January 2024

Mari Gibbard scored the winning goal as Wrexham staged a stunning derby-day comeback to beat rivals TNS in Shropshire.

The Red Dragons trailed by two goals just 11 minutes in – Helen Evans and Chantelle Teare putting the hosts in front.

But Keren Allen and Katie Sharp levelled the scores before half-time and, after Evans’ red card, Gibbard sealed victory as Wrexham strengthened their grip on a top-four place.

Manager Steve Dale made four changes from Sunday’s defeat to the league leaders at Cardiff City Stadium, including a return up front for fit-again Rosie Hughes.

Del Morgan was also available again, returning in goal, and Libby Mackenzie and Erin Lovett also came into the starting line-up as Wrexham reverted to their more customary 4-2-3-1 formation.

Captain Keren Allen swapped ends after winning the toss, but it was TNS who made the dream start – Emily Ridge firing a vicious cross-shot from the right, which clattered the underside of the bar and bounced down for Helen Evans to nod over the line.

Helen Evans could have doubled the lead on seven minutes, lifting a 20-yard free-kick over the wall after Allen’s foul, but straight into Morgan’s arms.

TNS did not have to wait long for their second, however – Teare heading in unmarked from a corner to double the hosts’ lead on 11 minutes.

Wrexham first chance to test teenage debutant Ellie Suckley in goal did not arrive until the 12th minute, when Mari Gibbard found space to shoot from distance, but it was straight at the keeper.

Teare could have added a third for TNS just a minute later, however – turning onto her right foot on the edge of the area before shooting over.

Amber Lightfoot raced at the hosts’ defence on 16 minutes, after Mackenzie’s pass, and her shot deflected into the side-netting.

But Ridge was just inches away from making it 3-0 two minutes later, cutting onto her right foot before her curling shot clipped the bar.

Evans then missed a gilt-edged chance as shellshocked Wrexham struggled to settle – the midfielder arriving late to a cut-back but missing the ball with the goal gaping.

Finally, the visitors started to turn the screw from midway through the half. Hughes’ cross dropped for Mackenzie on 22 minutes, as Carra Jones challenged, but she shot straight at Ellie Suckley.

Moments later, Hughes crossed from the opposite wing and Lightfoot ran inside from the left to shoot first time but her shot was blocked.

Wrexham were starting to take a firm grip of the game, and Phoebe Davies won possession in the middle and released Hughes over the top on 24 minutes, but she shot early and straight at Suckley.

The visitors were rewarded on 27 minutes though – Allen meeting Lili Jones’ outswinging corner, and heading into the bottom corner as Hughes’ run unsighted the keeper.

Five minutes later, Wrexham were level. Lili Jones’ long-range shot took a deflection but Erin Suckley let it go behind for a corner and she was punished for it – Jones’ corner running through for Sharp to finish at the back post.

It nearly got even better for Wrexham too, when Davies shot goalwards on 39 minutes, but with Suckley beaten her low drive bounced clear off the post.

Allen then released Hughes behind the defence with a well-weighted through ball on 44 minutes, but she shot over from the angle.

Less than a minute after the restart, Lightfoot took an excellent touch to get away down the left-hand side but her shot was brilliantly blocked as she darted into the area.

The hosts were then reduced to ten players on 51 minutes, when Davies ran onto a loose ball and Helen Evans lunged in two-footed to earn a deserved straight red card.

Lightfoot nutmegged TNS captain Beth Lewis on the hour-mark, and squared for Gibbard on the edge of the area, but she sliced her shot wide.

The second-half lacked the chances of the first, however, and Wrexham’s response was to bring on Rebecca Pritchard and TJ Dickens, for Lovett and Lili Jones. Ava Suckley then replaced Hughes five minutes later, with the latter’s minutes being managed on her return to action.

Wrexham were thankful to Katie Sharp for keeping the score level on 70 minutes, however, when they were caught passing around the back – the centre-back producing a brilliant header off the line to save a certain goal.

Lightfoot won a free-kick within TJ Dickens’ shooting range on 73 minutes, but though the free-kick beat the wall it was at a comfortable height for Ellie Suckley to save.

A minute later, however, Wrexham were in front – Pritchard ran onto a rebound on the right-wing and her cross spun kindly for Gibbard to tap in.

Carra Jones burst onto a loose ball on 78 minutes and drove forward from the right, but her low shot was saved when she may have had better options in the middle.

Dickens corner fell for Lightfoot on the edge in the 86th minute, but her right-foot shot curled just wide as Wrexham fought to put the game beyond doubt.

It was Lightfoot’s last action too, as she was then replaced by Ruby Jones as Steve Dale looked to protect the lead.

Jones found Davies over the top in the 93rd minute, and she cut inside but Ellie Suckley got down well to her right to save.

The resultant corner was cleared at the near post, but Dickens’ second delivery led to pinball in the area as Pritchard’s eventual shot was blocked and she prodded the rebound wide.

Nevertheless, Wrexham held on to move six points clear of their Shropshire rivals, and return to North Wales victorious.

Line-ups

TNS: Suckley, B.Lewis, Lockley, Redding, Williams (M.Evans 57), Chapman (Samson 85), Edge, L.Lewis, Teare, H.Evans, Ridge (Hill 77)

Subs: Jones (GK), Manders

Wrexham: Morgan, Lovett (Pritchard 60), Allen, Sharp, Davies, L.Jones (Dickens 60), Gibbard, C.Jones, Mackenzie, Lightfoot (R.Jones 86), Hughes (Suckley 65)

Subs: Bolland (GK)

Referee: James Walker

Attendance: 246

Bookings:

TNS:

Wrexham: L.Jones (40, foul), Allen (61, foul), Lightfoot (66, foul), Davies (82, foul), R.Jones (89, foul)

Red cards

TNS: H.Evans (51, serious foul play)


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