Ladies 25/03/2019

Ladies Report: Watford 0-3 Coventry United

The Golden Girls showed plenty of encouraging signs on Sunday, but it wasn’t enough to take anything from the unbeaten league leaders Coventry United Ladies.

It was a 3-0 victory for the away side at Kings Langley, as they won in the league for the 14th consecutive game.

Coventry took the lead early on through Marie Gauntlett and having weathered a sustained period of Watford pressure, Natasha Merritt then grabbed a second. Gauntlett got her second and her side’s third in the 90th minute.

There was only one change to the team that featured against Oxford United Women last time out, with Weronika Baranowska returning in goal.

Having netted double figures for the U23s this season, Andie Dickens was handed a place in the matchday squad for the first time this campaign.

The game got off to the worst possible start, as Coventry opened the scoring in the fifth minute. Gauntlett pounced on a poor back-pass and then just had to tap it into an empty net.

This was the last thing Watford could afford, but to their credit, the Hornets started to get on top of the game in the search for an equaliser.

A well-worked set-piece caught the opposition out and Adekite Fatuga-Dada’s strike from distance looked to be heading in but came back off the crossbar.

The attacking pressure continued as Jennifer Kikomeko’s deflected effort hit the side-netting and Leanne Bell almost connected with Fatuga-Dada at the back post after a driving run forward.

While Watford were looking threatening against a side that had only conceded six in the league all season, the Golden Girls couldn’t find a way to capitalise while in control.

When the table-toppers managed to gain the upper hand again, they did take advantage. Baranowska made a brilliant save to deny Helen Dermody, but she couldn’t keep out Merritt’s strike from the edge of the area shortly after. That 2-0 lead is how it stayed at the break.

Having not really been tested in the first half, Sue Wood was much more active in the Coventry goal in the second 45 and she had to save from Andrea Carid early on.

Beth Merrick was introduced from the bench at the start of the half and her powerful strike was well stopped and then gathered by Baranowska.

The Watford keeper then had to make another fine save to deny Amy Wathan just after the hour mark, and Gauntlett headed over from the resulting corner.

While the game remained at 2-0, Watford were still in with a chance and there were openings to pull a goal back. Helen Ward had two opportunities in quick succession, with a shot across goal held by Wood and an effort going off target.

Close but not close enough probably summed up the day and that was the case again when a superb cross from Fatuga-Dada found Kikomeko at the back post and she hit the woodwork from a tight angle.

Throughout the second half, Coventry were looking a threat from corners and they finally connected with one in the final minute of the 90. It was Gauntlett who got it, finding the top left corner with her header from inside the six-yard box.

There were plenty of elements of the performance that Watford could be pleased with, however like everyone else since August, they couldn’t find a way to take points off a Coventry side who continue to showcase their title credentials.

GOLDEN GIRLS | Baranowska, Hallsworth (O’Leary, 64), Kettle, Edwards, Huggins (Richards, 64), Kikomeko, Stojko-Down, Fatuga-Dada, Carid, Bell (Dickens, 74), Ward ©

UNITED | Wood ©, Austin, Miles, Riden, Merritt, Brook, Hughes, Gauntlett, Dermody (Merrick, HT), Wathan, Jefferies (O’Brien, 84)

Goals | Gauntlett (5, 90), Merritt (36)

Attendance | 126

First Team 25/03/2019

Internationals: Cathcart's Northern Ireland Beat Belarus

Craig Cathcart collected his 43rd Northern Ireland cap and played his part as Michael O'Neill's men took three points from their Euro 2020 qualifier with Belarus last night.

The defender featured throughout a 2-1 win at Windsor Park, with defensive partner Jonny Evans' opener cancelled out by Ihar Stasevich before Josh Magennis bagged an 87th-minute winner.

Also on Sunday, Sebastian Prödl did not make it off the bench for Austria, who went down 4-2 in Israel despite a Marko Arnautović double.

On Saturday, Academy striker Ryan Cassidy earned the Man of the Match award for his performance in a goalless draw for Republic of Ireland's Under-18s against Turkey. The 18-year-old played the full 90 minutes in the friendly fixture in Istanbul.

Ken Sema was an unused substitute in Sweden's 2-1 Euro 2020 qualifying win over Romania, with Robin Quaison and Viktor Claesson the Swedish scorers.

Dimitri Foulquier - currently on loan at Getafe in Spain - started for Guadeloupe and remained on the pitch until the 69th minute of a 1-0 defeat to Martinique.

Finally, Sonny Blu Lo-Everton played for the opening 26 minutes before being sacrificed due to the first of two red cards for Scotland Under-17s, who perhaps unsurprisingly lost 3-0 at home to Russia.