Ladies: Loughborough Foxes Preview
By Chris Smith
It’s another away game for Watford in the FA WNL this Sunday, with Loughborough Foxes the opposition.
The Golden Girls have picked up four points from their previous two league games, which included a draw on the road at QPR last time out.
Loughborough have had a good season after winning promotion last campaign. They currently sit in sixth place, two points behind Watford.
Views from the Head Coach
It’s been a win and a draw for Watford in the league so far this month, although it’s clear that Armand Kavaja wasn’t satisfied with the result in the previous fixture.
“We were very disappointed with the draw,” he told watfordfc.com. “It felt like a defeat to all of us, there’s been a few things from that game that we have been trying to put right this week.
“We did not retain purposeful possession during the whole game, we forced the ball too many times, we rushed things and got in to fights in wrong areas.
“We’ve focused in training on retaining possession and trying to play forward without forcing it. Out of possession we have tried to cover a few things in terms of our shape, like being compact, covering and recovery.”
One of the themes in recent league games has been tight encounters, with the last five either ending in a draw or being settled by a one-goal margin.
“I think the league is very competitive and there is no team that you can say it’ll be an easy game,” said Kavaja.
“We certainly need to be at our best in all games, sometimes even more against the teams that you are expected to win against.”
It’s an intriguing match-up this Sunday, as Watford take on a Loughborough Foxes side who are just below the Golden Girls in the standings.
“We know that they are a team that are very positive in their game,” explained Kavaja. “They are very creative going forwards, with individuals that have the ability to get past players in a one v one and also the ability to shoot from different distances.
“We must be organised, focused and not allow them to get through us and get shots away in and around our box.”
It’s safe to say Loughborough Foxes were emphatic in winning promotion to the FA WNL Southern Division. Last season they dropped just two points in 22 games, scoring 91 times and conceding only nine in the process.
That form carried on to the beginning of 2018/19, with Watford one of the victims of their early season form. QPR were dispatched on opening day 7-0 and then that was followed up by that 3-1 win at Kings Langley.
They progressed to the FA WNL Cup with a 4-0 win over Denham United. The winning run was ended in the league next time out, but they remained unbeaten with a 1-1 draw against C&K Basildon.
Loughborough were brought back to down to earth with four consecutive losses. Looking back, this maybe wasn’t as big a blip as it seemed, with all defeats to the current top four and three on the road.
The fixture list was a bit kinder in their next six and they took 16 points from a possible 18, including a good 1-0 win over Cardiff City and emphatic victories against Milton Keynes Dons and Plymouth Argyle.
That run was ended on Valentine’s Day, with unbeaten Coventry United securing the three points at the Loughborough University Football Stadium
Since December, Loughborough have only played two league games, with the focus mainly on cup competitions. Like Watford, they enjoyed a run to the fourth round of the SSE Women’s FA Cup, beating Gillingham and Billericay Town, before falling to Championship side Sheffield United.
That isn’t the end of their cup adventures. They’ll be one of four teams remaining in the FA WNL Cup, with the most noticeable performance so far being their comeback victory at Cardiff City, winning in extra-time after being 3-0 down at half-time.
Last time out
QPR 1-1 Watford
Team: Baranowska, Hinchcliffe (Kikomeko, 52), Edwards, Kettle, Hallsworth, Scanlon (Akerman, 73), Stojko-Down, Bell (Afuakwah, 82), Fatuga-Dada, O’Leary, Ward ©
Goal | Ward (28 – PEN)
Loughborough Foxes 3-0 AFC Wimbledon
Team: Burle, Eastham, Bartle ©, Young, Acton, Cooper (Knight, 80), Steele (Chambers, 11), Rogers, McGrother, Simes (Cassidy, 71), Chandarana
Goals | Cooper (39), McGrother (48, 90+2)
Loughborough Foxes Women v Watford FC Ladies
Sunday 24th February
Loughborough University Football Stadium