Ladies: Watford FC 1-3 Loughborough Foxes Women
Watford FC Ladies suffered a disappointing defeat as Loughborough Foxes triumphed 3-1 at Kings Langley on Sunday afternoon (August 26).
The Golden Girls had chances throughout the game, but the visitors were clinical in the first half and led at the break thanks to goals from Rebecca Knight and Kate Lowder.
It looked to be a grandstand finish when Leanne Bell got one back with just under 15 to go, however the away side responded and replied almost immediately as substitute Charlotte Cooper got the final goal of the game to harshly make it 3-1.
There were four changes to the team that defeated Cardiff City the previous weekend. 17-year-old Amy Martin came in for her debut in goal.
Katie O’Leary and Andrea Carid made their first starts for the club, while Samantha Hallsworth returned in the centre of defence.
Both sides had opportunities in the very opening stages of the game, Rebecca McGrother sliced an effort of wide for Loughborough while Helen Ward had a shot saved by Amy Burle.
The opposition keeper was then in action again as she saved from Carid who had been picked out by O’Leary.
It was the visitors who got the opening goal and it came from a set-piece. Laura Steele’s free-kick was delivered into a good area and Knight headed home past Martin.
That lead would be doubled six minutes later. Eva Rogers showed some good work down the right-hand side, she picked out Lowder who finished from just inside the area, after evading a Watford challenge.
Kavaja’s side looked to respond to the set-back but were again thwarted by Burle, who this time produced a good save to deny Ward for a second time.
Watford were really starting to exert pressure before the break as they looked to get a goal back. Carid’s great pass picked out Bell but her shot was off target.
Carid was involved again shortly after as her cross was agonisingly beyond the outstretched boot of Ward. The Watford captain had another opening in first-half stoppage time but her strike went just wide of the right-hand post.
Martin was called into action twice in the early stages of the half. First, she dealt with a difficult effort with McGrother following in, and then she held Rogers’ strike.
Cooper then tested her again with just over twenty to play but she was equal to the powerful near post strike.
When the Watford goalkeeper was beaten the crossbar came to the rescue as Rogers’ great effort cannoned back off it.
In the 77th minute, the Hornets got the game back to within one. A teasing cross was headed on and fell to Bell at the far post, she took a touch with her chest and then fired it into the bottom corner, for her first senior Watford goal.
Frustratingly for Watford, the two-goal lead was restored not long after. Rogers had been influential throughout and her pass found Cooper who gave Martin no chance with a composed finish.
Ward had been a source of worry for the Loughborough defence and she nearly capitalised on an opening as she chipped the onrushing Burle but it went narrowly wide.
The Golden Girls had one final chance in stoppage time. O’Leary put a wonderful cross in, but Laura Baker couldn’t keep a difficult chance down.
It’s a result that saw the away side keep their spot at the top of the table after two games. Attention for both teams will turn to the cup next week. Watford will travel to fourth tier outfit Poole Town in the determining round of the FA WNL Cup.
Watford FC XI: Martin; Peck, Hallsworth, O’Halloran, Huggins (Baker, 70); Stojko-Down, Scanlon; Bell, Carid, Ward (c); O’Leary.
Subs not used: Bolland, Currivan, Re.
Goal: Bell (77).
Yellow Card: Carid (90+2).
Loughborough Foxes XI: Burle, Eastham (Cassidy, 55), Brackenbury, Bartle, Matlock, Steele, Hicks, Rogers, McGrother, Lowder (Young, 72), Knight (Cooper, 55).
Sub not used: Perry.
Goals: Knight (22), Lowder (28), Cooper (79).