Report | Wrexham Women 3 Swansea City Women 3
Ten-player Swansea City Women fought back twice to earn a point in a dramatic Genero Adran Premier opener against Wrexham at The Rock.
Goals from Robyn Pinder and Chloe Chivers appeared to have salvaged a point for the Swans, after the visitors had found themselves two goals down to a first-half finish from Rebecca Pritchard and a second-half goal by Rosie Hughes for newly-promoted Wrexham.
However, an 89th-minute goal by Hannah Keryakoplis looked to have sealed three points for the home side in a feisty affair, which saw Ellie Lake shown a straight red seconds later.
But the Swans refused to give up and captain Katy Hosford popped up in the fifth minute of injury time to find the net with a deflected equaliser.
It was no less than the Swans deserved with Stacey John-Davis hitting the woodwork and having one cleared off the line before she was forced off by injury on the half-hour mark, while Chivers and Lake had also hit the crossbar with chances in the second half.
This match had signalled the start of a new era for Swansea City Women, who became semi-professional over the summer and underwent a change of name.
And there were plenty of changes to head coach Ceri Phillips’ squad, too. Summer signings Sophie Brisland-Hancocks and Chloe Bull lined up in the starting XI, while there were three new faces on the bench with Steph Turner, Sammy Wynne and Pinder named among the substitutes.
The Swans started quickly with John-Davis forcing a clearance off the line by Louisha Doran within three minutes, as she headed Chivers' cross on target.
Amber Lightfoot brought a straight-forward stop from Claire Skinner at her near post at the other end, before John-Davis almost pulled off an early goal of the season contender.
The ball came into the forward from the left and she chipped it over the head of the defender and rattled the crossbar with her left-footed volley.
But, despite the Swans’ bright start, it was Wrexham who opened the scoring.
It was a clinical right-footed finish from Pritchard after she was played in by Keren Allen. She was able to take advantage of the space between the Swans defenders and finished coolly just inside the far post.
John-Davis was then forced off with a suspected shoulder injury on the half-hour mark, which saw her leave the field on a stretcher. She landed awkwardly after stumbling off the end of the pitch and there was a lengthy break in play as medical staff treated her pitchside.
Her replacement, Pinder, headed agonisingly wide from a Jess Williams' cross just minutes after her introduction.
Hosford and Chivers then forced good saves from distance in the eight minutes of injury time at the end of the opening half
And the second half started in much the same way. Chivers clattered the woodwork direct from a free-kick just a minute after the restart.
Hosford then had a right-footed shot from the edge of the box blocked after being released by a perfectly-weighted through ball.
But Wrexham proved clinical once again. A misplaced pass by Alicia Powe was picked off by Lili Jones to set up a two-on-one for the home side. She timed her pass into the path of Hughes who chipped calmly beyond Skinner to double the home side's lead.
With the score at 2-0, Wrexham grew further in confidence and Pritchard soon had the ball in the net again, but that effort was ruled out for offside, before Hughes sliced wide from a one-on-one with Skinner.
At the other end, the Swans created a flurry of good chances in quick succession. Two of these fell to Pinder. She was only able to roll an effort wide of the near post after being found in the box by a Bull header, while her follow-up shot after Lake’s half-cross, half-shot bounced off the crossbar was deflected wide for a corner.
Williams’ header from the resulting set-piece was headed off the line as it seemed that it just wasn’t going to be Swansea’s evening.
However, with 15 minutes to go, the match exploded into life. Lake’s cross was spilled by the Wrexham keeper and Pinder reacted first to slot home.
And, five minutes later, Chivers delivered a fine volleyed finish from the edge of the box to level the score at 2-2.
Despite Swansea being in the ascendancy, it was once again Wrexham who got the next goal.
A cross from the right eventually fell to substitute Keryakoplis at the far post in the 89th minute to seemingly seal victory for Wrexham on their return to the top-flight after an eight-year absence.
And when Lake kicked out at ann opposition player to earn herself a red card, the points looked to be confirmed for the home side.
But the Swans weren’t done, and skipper Hosford popped up with an equaliser in the fourth minute of injury time to provide the final twist in an incident-filled game.
Swansea City: Claire Skinner, Alicia Powe, Lucy Finch (Steph Turner 70’), Ellie Lake, Nieve Jenkins (Sammy Wynne, 59’), Chloe Bull, Chloe Chivers, Katy Hosford (captain), Stacey John-Davis (Robyn Pinder 34’), Sophie Brisland-Hancocks (Monet Legall 70’), Jess Williams.
Unused substitutes: Chelsea Herbert.
Wrexham: Delyth Morgan (Charlotte Bolland 77’), Phoebe Davies, Erin Lovett, Louisha Doran, Rebecca Pritchard, Rosie Hughes, Tonicha Dickens, Amber Lightfoot (Carra Jones 64’), Mari Gibbard (Hannah Keryakoplis 72’), Lili Jones, Keren Allen (captain).
Unused substitutes: Libby Mackenzie, Katie Sharp.