Ladies 04/10/2018

Ladies Report: C&K Basildon 0-1 Watford

By Chris Smith

Watford FC Ladies recorded their sixth straight win with a hard-fought 1-0 victory at C&K Basildon on Wednesday night.

The hosts belied their lowly league position and made it difficult for the Golden Girls, although Weronika Baranowska was only called upon to make one tough save.

Watford began to create numerous chances as the second half wore on and finally made the breakthrough when captain for the night, Emily Hill, fired home from a well-worked short corner routine.

It would prove to be the winning goal as the Hornets took all three points and kept a first clean sheet of the season.

With Helen Ward missing due to international duty and a couple of minor injuries, Armand Kavaja made four changes to the side that defeated Gillingham 6-2 last time out.

Katie Akerman scored in that game and started here, with Samantha Hallsworth, Linda Afuakwah and Andrea Carid also coming into the side.

It was a competitive opening to the game but with few chances in the first quarter of an hour. Alexandra Bailess’ shot went wide for the hosts and Danielle Scanlon’s effort was well blocked by Raquel Murray. 

Afuakwah showed a burst of pace to get past her marker but her cross in was well gathered by Chelsea Hinz.

C&K Basildon had a number of efforts from outside the box in the game, Sophie Rhodes had a go midway through the half, but her strike was off target.

Some good work from Katie O’Leary created an opening for Carid but her shot was saved by Hinz. The keeper then wasn’t called into action as C&K Basildon performed some brilliant last ditch defending to block a couple of attempts from Laura Baker.

O’Leary was then the beneficiary of a lovely cross from Hallsworth, but she couldn’t quite get her foot around the ball.

The hosts had another shot from distance prior to the end of the half, Madelyn Thomas shooting wide this time.

Baranowska had to make a save early in the second half, however Holly Turner’s effort was comfortable to deal with.

Watford then forced Hinz into a stop down the other end, as the C&K Basildon keeper did well to tip over Scanlon’s dipping effort. She then made herself big to deny the midfielder again shortly after.

Only a minute later, Baranowska had to make what was her best save of the game. Turner was free in the box and she got plenty on her strike, but it was parried away by the Golden Girls’ keeper.

As the game entered the final 25 minutes, Kavaja’s side really started to get on top and were having lots of play in the attacking third.

Hinz had to make three saves in a short time span, first she dealt well with an Afuakwah shot that bounced awkwardly and then she held efforts from O’Leary and Carid.

O’Leary was regularly creating openings and a touch inside allowed her the space to curl an effort that went only narrowly off target.

The pressure eventually told with the deadlock being broken in the 84th minute. It came from a clever short corner routine which found its way through to Hill, the Watford skipper kept her shot down and picked out the bottom corner.

1-0 is how it stayed as the Hornets kept a clean sheet and made it six wins on the trot. Next up in both the WNL Cup and the league is Coventry United, as the top two meet in consecutive weeks.

GOLDEN GIRLS |  Baranowska, Hallsworth, Hill, O’Halloran, Peck, Scanlon, Akerman (Stojko-Down, 72), Afuakwah, Baker (Harney, 63), Carid, O’Leary.

Subs not used | Martin, Bell.

Goal | Hill (84).

C&K (Starting line-up) | Hinz, Rhodes, Murray, Moore, Gillard, Bailess, Thomas, Whitehead, Clarke, Turner, Horn.

Attendance: TBC.

First Team 04/10/2018

Team News: Bournemouth

Watch Javi Gracia's pre-match press conference above, or read on below for an update on player fitness and selection.

Gerard Deulofeu is in contention to make his first appearance of the season this weekend after Javi Gracia announced the winger is available for selection.

Deulofeu has not played any minutes since the final day of last season because of a foot problem, but he returned to full training last week and is now ready to be let off the leash by Gracia.

Also in the mix are the fit again Stefano Okaka, Miguel Britos and Sebastian Prödl, who were all unavailable for the Carabao Cup game with Tottenham Hotspur because of minor injuries. The availability of the quartet leaves Gracia spoilt for choice in certain positions for the game against Bournemouth.

“Yes, all of them have a chance,” said Gracia. “We have to know they are not in the best condition because they need more training sessions to be better, but I think they can help us in the next game. We'll see.”

A slight downside is that Marc Navarro will miss the game against the Cherries.

“In this moment, we are training with some players who were injured in the last weeks,” said Gracia. “Now in this moment we have only Tom Cleverley, Daryl Janmaat, and Marc Navarro this week felt pain a little bit and I think he will not be available for the next game, but the rest of them [the previously injured players] are training with the team.”

The injury to Navarro, who enjoyed a decent debut against Arsenal, means opportunity knocks for someone else at right-back. Kiko Femenía is one option but not the only option, according to the Head Coach.

“Adrian [Mariappa] is a player who can play in different defensive positions,” Gracia said. “He is an option to play, the same as Kiko and Cathcart as well.”

Tickets are still on general sale from for Watford's game with Bournemouth.

The Ticket Office is open until 7pm on Friday (October 5) for those wishing to buy in person.