Watford FC Ladies suffered their first league loss since August as the Golden Girls fell to a 4-0 defeat at Coventry United on Sunday.
Armand Kavaja’s side started the game well but two goals in three minutes just past the midway point of the first half changed proceedings.
Amber Hughes opened the scoring with a great strike and then Chenise Austin converted from the penalty spot. A long-range free-kick from Marie Gauntlett made it three after the hour mark and then Amy Wathan completed the scoring with a composed finish.
There were three changes to the side that took on the same opponents in the cup the previous weekend. With Weronika Baranowska unavailable, Amy Martin started in goal. There were also returns to the starting line-up for Lauren Peck and Andrea Carid.
The opening fifteen minutes at Daventry Town FC saw Watford have arguably have the better of the play, but the hosts put their bodies on the line numerous times to block shots.
Martin was called upon to make her first save when Wathan’s shot from 25 yards out was easily gathered by the keeper. Gauntlett then attempted a lob soon after but it went wide.
Watford were keeping the ball well at times and this was emphasised by a lovely move that helped escape the Coventry press, but unfortunately for the Hornets, Carid’s through ball at the end had just too much on it as she looked to find Helen Ward.
In truth it was a fairly even game at this point and it took something special to open the scoring. Hughes cut inside from the right and her strike picked out the top left corner, leaving Martin with no chance.
A few minutes later a penalty was awarded to the hosts, although there were some question marks over whether the Coventry player was holding Peck’s shirt. Austin stepped up to take it and emphatically doubled the lead.
Kat Huggins put a good free-kick into the box as Watford looked to respond, Emily Hill got her head to it, but she couldn’t direct it on target.
There was an opening for each side towards the end of the half but Lois Jefferies and Ward both shot over after good work in the build-up.
It’s been well documented that the majority of the Golden Girls’ scoring prowess has come in the second half of matches and they came out firing at the beginning of the second period.
Only a few minutes into the half Linda Afuakwah beat her marker and got into the box but she couldn’t keep her shot down. Huggins’ free-kick from a difficult angle then caused problems for Susan Wood in the Coventry goal, however she did just enough to deal with it.
She was then forced into action two more times before the hour mark, stopping Afuakwah with her feet and then denying Katie O’Leary with a good save from a one-on-one chance.
Watford would be punished for not taking one of those openings as Coventry made it 3-0 in the 63rd minute. It was another great strike as Gauntlett attempted an ambitious free-kick and also found the top corner.
The game was then put beyond doubt as Wathan found space in the box and beat Martin with a composed finish. It was one of those days where nothing was falling for Watford. Ward blocked down Wood’s clearance, but it looped up perfectly for the keeper to gather.
The captain then had a chance to grab a consolation late on when presented with a one-on-one with Wood, but her shot narrowly missed, hitting the side netting.
While the scoreline might not have quite reflected the game, there could be no complaints about the result. There’s now a three-week break for Watford, with back-to-back home fixtures on November 11 and 18 as the Golden Girls look to get back on track.
GOLDEN GIRLS | Martin, Hallsworth, O’Halloran, Hill, Peck (O’Leary, HT), Scanlon, Stojko-Down (Akerman, 74), Afuakwah (Harney, 64), Carid, Huggins, Ward (C).
UNITED | Wood (C), Riden, McDonnell, Miles, Austin, Merritt, Brook, Hughes, Gauntlett, Jefferies, Wathan.
Goals | Hughes (26), Austin (28 pen), Gauntlett (63), Wathan (73)
Attendance | 136