Ladies Report: Middlesbrough 2-7 Watford
By Chris Smith
A remarkable performance from Watford FC Ladies saw the Golden Girls progress to the fourth round of the SSE Women’s FA Cup in style, winning 7-2 away at Middlesbrough Women.
It was an extraordinary start to the game which saw four goals in the first 20 minutes. Danielle Scanlon and Helen Ward put the Hornets in front, before Emily Scarr pulled one back for the hosts.
Ward immediately restored the two-goal advantage, but Middlesbrough again hit back, this time through Holly Manders. The Hornets would not be denied from leading by two at the break as Katie O’Leary put them ahead by that margin for the third time.
Samantha Hallsworth made it 5-2 just after the hour mark and then Helen Ward added some gloss to the scoreline late-on, netting from two one-on-one opportunities for her third and fourth strikes of the game.
There was just one change to the side that had defeated Buckland Athletic in the previous round. Kat Huggins returned to the starting line-up, a move which saw Adekite Fatuga-Dada move further forward.
With only seven minutes on the clock, Watford took the lead. Fatuga-Dada’s corner found Scanlon who had got away from her marker and she picked out the bottom left corner with her header.
Just a few minutes later that advantage was doubled. Ward was afforded plenty of space in the box, she opened up and beat the keeper who perhaps should have done better with the near post effort.
Middlesbrough pulled one back when a long ball forward resulted in a mix-up in defence and Scarr took advantage, slotting home into an empty net.
Watford’s response couldn’t have been better, it only took 14 seconds from kick-off. A clever through ball from Fatuga-Dada found Ward and she lifted the ball over the on-rushing Ashleigh Trainer.
Before the half hour mark, the home side again pulled a goal back. Manders’ header from 15 yards out found its way in although Eleanor Dale might have got a touch to it.
The Hornets were constantly creating openings throughout the game and continued to look dangerous going forward. Ward’s shot across goal was parried away by Trainer and agonisingly away from O’Leary.
While the chance wouldn’t fall to O'Leary that time, when it did, she capitalised. Ward dug out a deep cross to the back post and she wasn’t going to miss the header from close range.
Middlesbrough had a glorious chance soon after the interval to continue the topsy-turvy nature of the game. Tyler Dodds showed great work down the right and then came inside but she couldn’t keep her shot down.
O’Leary put a difficult chance over for Watford but Boro had the better openings in the first 15 of the second half. Weronika Baranowska produced a good save to deny Scarr, while some decent defending from Hallsworth took the sting out of Manders’ shot, making it easy for the keeper.
Alysha Stojko-Down then had an effort off-target for Watford but there wasn’t to be long to wait for the fifth. Hallsworth pushed up the field and her cross-cum-shot completely deceived Trainer and found the corner.
There could have been a quick response after the goal again, but fortunately Dodds couldn’t find the target after some good work in the build-up.
Baranowska had to make her best save of the game with just over 10 to play. Dale tried to lift it over her, but she stood tall and made the stop.
If there was still any lingering doubt about Watford securing their place in the next round that was put to bed as Ward got her hat-trick. Fatuga-Dada won possession in the attacking third, played it through and the captain made no mistake one-on-one.
Ward was then presented with another one-on-one opportunity and she took advantage, getting her fourth of the game by slotting through the goalkeeper’s legs.
It could have been even more in the closing stages, but O’Leary fired narrowly over from close range and Leanne Bell’s strike came back off the crossbar.
GOLDEN GIRLS | Baranowska, Hallsworth (Baker, 66), Edwards, Hill, Huggins, Scanlon (Kettle, 82), Stojko-Down, Fatuga-Dada, Carid (Bell, 51), O’Leary, Ward (C).
Goals | Scanlon (7), Ward (10, 20, 81, 84), O’Leary (39), Hallsworth (61).
BORO | Trainer, Hutchinson (Marshall, 73), Luke (Bass, 59), Birtwhistle, Foster, Watt, Dodds, Kelly (C), Dale, Manders, Scarr (Dobson, 59).
Goals | Scarr (19), Manders (28).