Ladies: Crawley Wasps 1-3 Watford
Watford Ladies bounced back from last week’s disappointment in style on Sunday (September 15), putting in a terrific performance to win 3-1 away at Crawley Wasps.
The Golden Girls looked dangerous throughout, but it took until the 60th minute to make the breakthrough, with Adekite Fatuga-Dada putting her side in front.
Anne Meiwald then scored her first for the club to double that advantage, however the hosts responded and pulled one back through Ellie Russell.
Watford were looking likely to score every time they went forward and Katie O’Leary soon restored the two-goal lead. It could have been even more in the closing stages, but 3-1 is how it stayed, as the Hornets took all three points and ended Crawley’s 100 per cent record to begin the season.
There were two changes to the side that had suffered a frustrating defeat in the last game against Cardiff, with Megan Chandler and Andrea Carid both returning to the starting line-up, having come off the bench in the previous fixture.
In the opening 20 minutes there was little time to breath as the game began frantically. Carid had Watford’s first attempt inside a minute, forcing Francesca Gibbs into a save.
Both goalkeepers came up with key stops early on. Rebecca Carter pounced on a poor back pass, but Nina Wilson stayed big and denied her one-on-one.
At the other end Ocean Rolandsen just missed connecting with Jennifer Kikomeko, however the ball then fell to Chandler whose 25-yard effort was superbly kept out by the opposition goalkeeper.
The chances kept coming and the hosts looked to have a glorious one when they had a 2-on-0 situation, however a late flag came to Watford’s rescue.
Arguably the Hornets’ best chance of the half fell to Carid. She gained possession and then put a defender on the floor, but while her strike beat Gibbs, it hit the post and went away from goal.
The defences managed to get more of a hold on things as the half wore on. Gibbs was still impressive when called upon, being alert to a through ball and doing just enough to get there and stop Fatuga-Dada from opening the scoring.
After creating plenty of opportunities last week and failing to find the back of the net, it was starting to look like a case of déjà vu, especially early in the second 45.
Gibbs again did what was required to stop Fatuga-Dada poking the ball beyond her, then in another repeat of the first half, she came up with a good stop to tip Chandler’s long-range effort over.
As the game approached the hour mark, the breakthrough eventually came. Fatuga-Dada timed her run perfectly to get on the end of Ryah Vyse’s incisive pass and the forward then slotted the ball into the bottom right hand corner.
It wouldn’t take too long for Watford to then make it two. A set-piece delivery caused problems and Meiwald managed to get her head to it, getting enough on it to ensure the Crawley defender couldn’t clear it off the line in time.
With the game entering the final quarter of an hour, Crawley made the closing stages interesting. Naomi Cole’s free-kick was awkward to deal with and Russell was in the right place to finish from close range.
Impressively, Watford didn’t allow the home side to gain any momentum from the goal and immediately went on the front foot again, as substitute Alysha Stojko-Down hit the crossbar with her long-range effort.
Two other substitutes then had a hand in the third goal. Rolandsen’s defensive header found Leanne Bell and she squared it across to O’Leary, who struck it first time and accurately found the bottom left corner, leaving Gibbs with no chance.
It rounded off a great afternoon, as the Golden Girls secured a deserved victory against the league leaders. The manner of the performance was impressive and, with two games coming up this week, Watford will be looking to continue to build on that against Hounslow and Yeovil Town.
GOLDEN GIRLS | Wilson, Meiwald, Beckett, Richards, Rolandsen, Chandler, Kikomeko, Vyse, Fatuga-Dada (C) (O’Leary, 77), Harney (Bell, HT), Carid (Stojko-Down, 70)
Goals | Fatuga-Dada (60), Meiwald (69), O’Leary (82)
WASPS | Gibbs, Nash, Palmer, Russell, Drury, Cole (C), Fleischman (Stow, 53), Rabson, Stephens (Ledezma-Viso, 70), Owen, Carter (Webber, 40)
Goal | Russell (76)
Attendance | 85