WATFORD LADIES impressive form continued at the weekend after a 1-0 win over Barnet Ladies saw the team top its Women’s Premier League Cup group, while also extending an unbeaten run that now stretches to nine games.
A narrow win could have been more emphatic had it not been for some good goalkeeping by Barnet’s Cherie Rowlands, with Watford’s only goal coming on 38 minutes, thanks to a penalty from midfielder Cally Rowell.
Despite having already qualified for the knockout stage of the competition, Watford manager John Salomon picked arguably the strongest team available to him, but was forced to make do without Sarah Wiltshire and Josie Green, who were away in Holland with Wales.
Irene Martin Garcia and Cally Rowell came into the side, and it was Rowell who had Watford’s first effort of the game after three minutes. She fired in a shot from fully 20 yards, which went wide of the left hand post.
Midfield partner Emma Beckett had the first effort on target five minutes later, forcing Rowlands to dive to her left after an effort from just outside the box.
Barnet quickly counter-attacked up the other end, but were unable to test Watford keeper Lauren Davey, with a shot fired in from distance that went high over her crossbar.
Winger Kate Natkiel was a constant threat down the Watford right side, setting up chances for Martin Garcia and striker Jo Wilson, but neither were able to take advantage of the chances presented.
On 37 minutes midfielder Fliss Gibbons made a burst into the Barnet box, before being taken down by a Bees defender to win Watford’s second penalty of the campaign.
Rowell stepped up and coolly slotted her spot-kick to Rowlands’ left hand side, giving Watford a deserved lead seven minutes before half-time.
Watford almost extended the lead on 44 minutes when Martin Garcia charged down a Barnet defender’s attempted clearance, with the ball bouncing kindly into the path of striker Wilson. The in-form forward was unable to add to her two goals against Sunderland last week, dragging her effort wide of the left hand post.
The second half saw Watford have the better of the chances, with Wilson and Beckett going close with headed efforts early on, before some terrific Barnet defending denied Natkiel a clear shot on goal on the hour mark.
The best chance of the half fell to Wilson a minute later as she was sent through one-on-one with keeper Rowlands, and despite a good connection with her effort, the Barnet keeper was able to dive low to her left and deny the Watford striker.
After three minutes of injury time, the referee brought the contest to a close, with the final score resulting in Watford topping their group ahead of Barnet.
Manager John Salomon was pleased with his team’s mentality and praised their attitude towards the game, having already qualified for the next phase of the competition.
He said: “Today was another step in the right direction for us. We set out to qualify from the group, but having achieved that with a game in hand, I'm delighted that we have approached another game with a winning mentality and got the result that we deserved.”