Cudone rescues strong point for Watford against Donny Belles
Keith Boanas was delighted his side managed a 1-1 against "the strongest team in the league"
FA WSL 2 match
20:00, Thursday 20 April 2017
Kings Langley FC
Watford continued their mixed start to the FA Women’s Super League 2 Spring Series as they salvaged a 1-1 draw at home to Doncaster Rovers Belles.
There were goals either side of half time as Courtney Sweetman-Kirk’s tap in gave the away side the lead before Leah Cudone levelled things up.
The Belles started on the front foot and carved out a decent opportunity when Watford were unable to deal with a bouncing ball – allowing Mayumi Pacheco to try her luck, blasting over.
Watford hit back with a chance of their own as Rinsola Babajide surged down the left and thumped a low effort that Nicky Davies did well to get down and divert.
On the brink of half time, Belles snatched the lead as great work down the left by Kirsty Hanson allowed Sweetman-Kirk the easiest of finishes as the ball was sent to her feet.
But the Hornets drew level in the second half when a goalmouth scramble fell to Cudone, whose goal-bound shot was unable to be cleared by Sophie Barker.
Cudone could have had a second moments later, only to miskick an effort, while Sweetman-Kirk tried in vain with her effort late on.
Sweetman-Kirk tried her luck with an audacious backheel that Josephine Fletcher was equal to as the momentum of the game fizzled out.
Watford head coach Keith Boanas said:
“I said to the girls before the game but for me Doncaster are the best team in the league right now.
“I ended up watching a few videos of games from the previous games and they looked really impressive – a lot of experience and they should be in the WSL1.
“We have not had the best of luck, we have not had the best of consistency but it was a great test for these girls tonight to show us who they really want to be here. I’m really pleased that they responded after what was a poor performance on Sunday. It was a massive response.
“We obviously changed it around a bit beforehand. We changed almost our complete back four. It was (Josephine) Fletcher’s first game for us. The back line were one of the big differences.
“We know we have got good attacking players. We said ‘go on and have a go from the kick off’. Don’t wait 45 minutes to start the game. We did that and felt we could have been two or three up in the first 20 minutes."
Leandra Little, Doncaster Rovers Belles captain added:
“I’m frustrated, to be honest. It was obviously a long journey down, but there are no excuses.
“We were not good enough. We even came down with a game plan that we didn’t execute, so we’re not happy to be going away with one point at all.
“In the second half I think that we were not clinical enough in front of goal and just kept getting drawn into a ‘yo-yo’ game, where the ball is going back and forth.
“If we had cleared the first ball, it came in from the set piece, then it wouldn’t have got into that scrappy encounter that actually led to the goal.
“It’s really disappointing for us to concede on a set piece, seeing as we’ve got tall bodies on the pitch, including myself, and we should be dealing with the first ball.”
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Doncaster Rovers Belles 1
Watford (4-1-4-1): Josephine Fletcher, Tyra Poole, Vicky Neal, Anneka Nuttall, Charlotte Kerr, Lilli Maple, Danielle Puddefoot, Merrick Will, Adekite Fatuga-Dada, Leah Cudone, Rinsola Babajide
Substitutes: Simona Petkova for Maple 60, Otesha Charles for Fatuga-Dada 77
Substitutes not used: Meghan McKeag, Lucy Gillett, Cherrelle Albert, Lauren Jordinson, Ruby Baxter
Bookings: Fatuga-Dada 47
Red Cards: None
Doncaster Rovers Belles (4-2-3-1): Nicky Davies, Sophie Barker, Leandra Little, Sam Tierney, Mayumi Pacheco, Kasia Lipka, Sophie Walton, Rebecca Rayner, Marta Bakowska-Mathews, Kirsty Hanson, Courtney Sweetman-Kirk
Substitutes: Christie Murray for Hanson 79
Substitutes not used: Beth Davies, Emily Simpkins, Rachel Newborough, Yasmin Mosby, Izzy Whittle
Bookings: Pacheco 90
Red Cards: None
Referee: Dean Appleby