By Chris Smith
Watford FC Ladies moved up to second in the table after recording a fourth straight victory by winning 4-2 at Portsmouth FC Women.
The hosts got off to a good start as Daisy McLachlan put Pompey in front. The response didn’t take long though, as Katie O’Leary levelled it up.
Hannah Geer made it 2-1 to Portsmouth and with just under a quarter of an hour to play, Watford were looking for another late show.
The Golden Girls delivered with their 6th, 7th and 8th goals in the final 15 minutes of matches this season. Anaisa Harney netted two after coming off the bench, and then Helen Ward got the fourth to seal it.
There were two changes to the Watford side that defeated QPR last time out. Laura Baker came in for her first league start of the season, while Lauren Peck returned to the fold against her former club.
The two goalkeepers were called into action early, with Ward and McLachlan both having shots stopped by Robyn Levett and Weronika Baranowska respectively.
Levett was well beaten when Danielle Scanlon took aim from 25-yards out, but the crossbar came to the Portsmouth keeper’s rescue.
With 16 minutes on the clock, the home side took the lead. Rachel Panting cleverly back-heeled it into the path of McLachlan and she placed an effort past Baranowska.
Portsmouth had a couple of openings to double their lead, but Katie James’ and Panting’s attempts were both off target.
They would be important misses as Watford were level shortly after. Ward was denied by Levett but she stayed with it and got to the loose ball, she then picked out O’Leary who volleyed home into an empty net.
It looked like the Hornets had then taken the lead but Baker’s effort was flagged by the linesman for a foul on the keeper. Then down the other end, Panting had a great opportunity but could only hit the side netting.
Watford should have been going into the break a goal to the good but couldn’t take advantage of two great opportunities in the closing minutes of the half.
Ward did brilliantly to dispossess the defender but when one-on-one with the keeper, she uncharacteristically missed the target. In time-added on, Scanlon was in acres of space, but the pass took a fraction of a second too long to get to her and the Portsmouth defender did brilliantly to recover.
Already on the scoresheet, O’Leary went for a spectacular overhead kick when the opportunity presented itself, but it went narrowly off target.
She had a more conventional chance just after the hour mark. After being picked out by a great pass from Samantha Hallsworth, her strike was well stopped by Levett.
A Portsmouth free-kick was difficult to deal with and Baranowska couldn’t claim it, but she recovered well to make a smart stop to prevent it from crossing the goal line.
There was little the Watford keeper could do when Portsmouth took the lead with just under twenty to go. Geer was able to turn in the six-yard box and she fired home from close range.
It was a goal that meant an introduction to the game for Harney and her impact was huge. In the 79th minute she headed the ball over the onrushing Levett to make it 2-2.
With five to go she then caught the opposition keeper out again, beating her at the near post and putting Watford into the lead for the first time.
The result would then look certain as a ball over the top found Ward and she showed her class by coolly lobbing Levett for her sixth goal of the season.
It was the completion of a fantastic turnaround for the Golden Girls, which now means they’ve won four in a row and five of the six games so far this campaign.
Next up for Armand Kavaja’s side is a home game against Gillingham next Sunday (2pm KO). Can the Hornets stretch that run to five? Get along to Kings Langley to find out!
GOLDEN GIRLS | Baranowska, Hallsworth, Hill, O’Halloran, Peck, Scanlon, Akerman (Carid, 58), Bell, Baker, O’Leary (Harney, 72), Ward.
Subs not used | Martin, Huggins, Afiya Johnson.
Goals | O’Leary (21), Harney (79, 85), Ward (89).
POMPEY | Levett, Kirby, Tonks, Russell, Currie, Perkins (Rowe, 57), Bradley, James (Geer, 70), Panting (Southgate, 82), Anu, McLachlan.
Subs not used | Younger, May.
Goals | McLachlan (16), Geer (71).