Ladies 1 month ago

Lancaster: “We Want To Finish Top”

The Golden Girls climbed to second in the Women’s National League last night (Wednesday October 10) and made it five games unbeaten, but Head Coach Clinton Lancaster is aiming even higher after a convincing 3-1 win against MK Dons Women.

“Second isn’t where we want to finish, we want to finish top, but of course we’re making the right steps,” Lancaster told watfordfc.com. “It’s amazing for us, our aim is to finish as high as we can and we’re going from position to position. The more games we win, depending on how others get on, we’re just going to push on and on in the league.”

Centre-half Emily Hill was captain for the day and gave the hosts the perfect start with a tidy finish from the edge of the box in the second minute. But, despite the Hornets creating chance after chance to further their lead, MK Dons equalised just before the break.

“In the first half we were frustrated because they sat off us, which we expected them to do and we dominated possession, but we just couldn’t find the second goal in the first half,” said Lancaster. “We moved the ball really well, but they got the equaliser late in the first half which was frustrating.

“At half-time we said just keep moving the ball, be patient and it will open up, and in the second half it did and we got the two goals which we thoroughly deserved and I think we thoroughly deserved to win the game.”

Lancaster’s side lined up in a 3-4-3 formation but, when it became clear the visitors were playing with a lone striker, the Head Coach gave his defenders licence to get forward.

“When teams sit off you, you have to change the picture,” said the Head Coach. “I think in the first half we realised our three at the back were up against a one and we could get another one forward. Whether it was Anne [Meiwald], Emily or Becks [Emma Beckett], we were encouraging them at half-time to get forwards more because we didn’t need to keep three against the one.

“Although they were looking to break, we were confident we could deal with whatever they would hit us with on the break.”

The second breakthrough for the Golden Girls came through super sub Andrea Carid. The creative Spaniard made an instant impact and scored two goals – the first via a fortunate deflection, but the second with a beautifully taken first-time finish.

“One thing Andrea does when she comes on is her work rate is outstanding,” said Lancaster. “She will work really hard, she’ll shut the game down and when she’s got the ball she’s got great feet and looks after the ball really well and moves it really quickly.

“She played really well when she came on and she made a massive difference, and she obviously helped us get over the line in the end. It was a great finish, she took her goals really well.”

Another second-half substitution was club captain Helen Ward, who had only recently flown into the country from Belarus, where she was on international duty with Wales.

Ward was an unused substitute for her national team and, itching to get back on the pitch, messaged Lancaster late last night saying she wanted to be involved if possible.

“It sums up her character really,” said Lancater. “She’s a top professional and she loves playing her football. Her football and her family are the most important things for her, and she wants to play all the time.

“That for us is great, someone with her experience, with her knowledge, with her goals. Any opportunity to include Helen, we will. She’s a great leader, a great captain, so it came as no surprise.”

Ladies 1 month ago

Ladies: Watford 3-1 MK Dons

Good things come to those who wait, and that was certainly the case for a thoroughly dominant Watford side who needed a two-goal cameo from substitute Andrea Carid to eventually see off MK Dons.

Much the better side throughout, Emily Hill’s early opener seemed destined to set the tone for a comfortable victory under the Orbital Fasteners Stadium lights at Kings Langley, but a Jessica Driscoll equaliser against the run of play threw a spanner in the works just before half-time.

Undeterred, the Golden Girls stuck to their task diligently and, having already seen a succession of chances come and go, finally put the game to bed with a brace of Carid strikes inside the final quarter-of-an-hour.

It was a victory for persistence and a fifth game unbeaten for the Hornets, whose FA Women’s National League promotion push continues to gather momentum.

It was a dream start for the hosts, who took the lead as early as the second minute thanks to their captain Hill. The defender planted the ball into the bottom corner with her right boot following a Watford corner, a real sign of intent from a confident looking side who were quickest out of the blocks by some distance.

Clinton Lancaster’s team spent much of the opening 45 camped in the opposition’s half, Alysha Stojko-Down showing a tendency to get into scoring positions and a willingness to shoot. The midfielder went close three times – two shots deflected just wide and an audacious third from some distance looping over scrambling keeper Emma Kirby and onto the bar.

All the more frustrating then that in a rare foray up-field, MK Dons hauled themselves level with just three minutes remaining until the break. Watford keeper Nina Wilson got a glove to Driscoll’s close-range shot, but it wasn’t enough to prevent the equaliser.

Only the woodwork denied the Golden Girls an instant reply. Adekite Fatuga-Dada’s header was tipped onto the cross-bar by Kirby, meaning the two sides went into half-time all-square at 1-1.

Perhaps aware of the need for extra ruthlessness in front of goal, manager Lancaster introduced Helen Ward from the start of the second half. The experienced striker – who replaced Katie O’Leary – could have been forgiven for feeling a little weary, having only flown home during the morning from Wales’ international in Belarus last night. The 33-year-old was an unused substitute in the UEFA Women’s Championship qualifier.

The chances kept coming for Watford after the break. Emma Beckett was heavily involved, first heading over then firing just wide of goal, before slipping in Fatuga-Dada, who drew a save from Kirby in a frantic few minutes of attacking play.

Megan Chandler went closer still – in fact we’ll probably never know whether or not the midfielder’s curling shot from 25 yards crossed the line after bouncing off the underside of the bar. Where’s goal-line technology when you need it?

Sooner or later, you felt, the Hornets had to make their dominance pay. Fatuga-Dada looked destined to restore the lead when presented with a one-on-one opportunity, but the winger was denied by Kirby. Then Ward’s placed effort with 70 minutes played was tipped wide by the Dons’ in-form keeper.

There was more than a slice of fortune when the goal eventually came. Substitute Carid’s shot took a wicked deflection on its way past Kirby, but the Golden Girls had earned their luck and were well worth their 2-1 lead.

Carid then put the result beyond doubt with the goal of the night on 89 minutes, firing an emphatic first-time shot beyond Kirby and into the far corner to round off an impressive cameo from the bench, and a successful night’s work for the Hornets.

GOLDEN GIRLS: Wilson (GK); Hill (C), Beckett, Meiwald; Rolandsen, Chandler, Stojko-Down, Vyse; Fatuga-Dada (Scanlon, 84), O’Leary (Ward, HT), Bell (Carid, 59).

Subs not used: Wiggins (GK), Richards.