Super Sheffield add to Watford's woes in goal-plenty thriller
Beth Donoghue, Hannah Cain, Emma Johnson and Rhema Lord-Mears take Sheffield up to seventh in WSL 2
Sheffield FC ran out comfortable 4-0 winners against struggling Watford to record their first win since January on Ellie Gilliatt’s 200th appearance for the club.
Goals before the break from Beth Donoghue, Hannah Cain and an Emma Johnson penalty put Zoe Johnson’s side in full control.
The win sees Sheffield climb to seventh place in FA WSL 2, while Watford remain bottom of the table.
Sheffield FC 4
Donoghue 17, Cain 42, Johnson 45 (pen), Lord-Mears 75
Sheffield FC (4-3-3): Danielle Gibbons (GK); Sarah Jackson, Niamh Cashin, Danielle Cox, Ellie Gilliatt (C); Sherry McCue, Jenna Dear, Emma Johnson; Chloe Dixon, Beth Donoghue, Hannah Cain
Substitutes: Katie Anderson for Dear 63, Rhema Lord-Mears for Cain 63, Hannah Dale for McCue 77
Substitutes not used: Holly Housley, Melissa Johnson, Sophie Jones, Nicole Kemp
Bookings: Dear 13
Red Cards: None
Watford (4-3-3): Fran Kitching (GK); Adekita Fatuga-Dada, Sydney Hinchliffe, Rebecca McShane, Charlotte Kerr; Anneka Nuttall (C), Emily Hill, Helen Ward; Leanne Bell, Anaisa Harney, Simona Petkova
Substitutes: Tyra Poole for Petkova 54, Georgie O’Halloran for Harney 70, Samantha Hallsworth for McShane 82
Substitutes not used: Mollie Dench, Andie Dickens
Red Cards: None
Referee: Lee Hible
After a quiet opening 15 minutes it was Donoghue who broke the deadlock with her first league goal for the club after being played through on goal by Johnson, the striker taking a touch and slotting behind Kitching in the Watford goal.
That opened the first-half floodgates for Sheffield and it was two soon after when the returning Cain sent an excellent shot past Kitching.
Watford almost held out until the break but Sheffield were presented with a chance to score a third after the lively Cain was felled by Kerr inside in the box in stoppage time.
Midfielder Johnson stepped up to add a goal to her earlier assist and give Sheffield a comfortable buffer going into the break.
Despite the one-sided score it was goalkeeper Kitching that provided Watford’s best moments of the day, pulling off several excellent saves to deny Sheffield an even more comfortable afternoon than they’d been presented with.
Johnson’s side did though add a fourth with 15 minutes to go after substitute Lord-Mears made her way into the box to connect with Dixon’s low cross from just six yards out.
GOAL OF THE MATCH
Cain cut inside past her marker on 42 minutes before sending a sensational curling effort into the top corner from outside the box to double Sheffield’s tally.
WHAT THEY SAID
Sheffield scorer Hannah Cain said: “It’s always good to be back and I’ve been looking forward to it. I’ve been away with England so it’s good to come back and add into the team, we had a solid performance too today so all round we’re very happy.
“It’s great to get another win, it’s a happy camp and not conceding is a big thing too. It’s always disappointing to get the goals and lose or concede late on but we kept hold of it today and we’re happy with that.”
Watford’s Helen Ward said: “It was a frustrating afternoon for us, it’s been a frustrating season. We’ve got a very young group of players out there who are working hard but we’re making little mistakes that you can only get with experience.
“We’ll keep going, we’ll keep training and hopefully we can get something out of our next couple of games. We didn’t organise ourselves well enough at times in the first half, I was playing a bit deeper than usual and I didn’t execute my role as well as I should have done.
“It’s a hard situation and as an experienced player I’ve got to keep everybody going. The girls work hard and I can’t fault their effort, coming into this situation is difficult and it’s a big step up from development football to league level. Individually they are fantastic players but that gap is getting bigger and we’re coming up against teams who have been together a long time.
“That standard is always improving but we’ll keep going and we have to keep our heads high and I’m sure something will come for us.”
Cain said: “Our emphasis is on having a good run, we’ve got a lot of games in hand and if we perform like we did today then I don’t think we’ll have a problem. With the league as it is it’s not been ideal but a lot of teams are in the same situation.
“The league is so close you never know if you’re going to win or lose. Sometimes you have a good run and sometimes it just doesn’t happen for us but after every game we review it and work on the stuff we haven’t been doing as well.
“Last time against Tottenham it was a bit of a wild one, I’m not known for anything like that. I’m just going to concentrate on going down there, getting the three points and then coming home, I’m not bothered about anything else.
“But they’re a strong side, very organised and always very well prepared. It’s rest and recover and then we’ll go again against Tottenham.”
Ward said: “That standard is always improving but we’ll keep going and we have to keep our heads high and I’m sure something will come for us.
“We’ve still got seven games to go and we’ll get back to it this week, the good thing is we’ve got a lot of games coming up week in, week out because a lot of the time this season it’s been very stop-start.
“We need consistency in fixtures and that’s the same for every team, it’s difficult to gain any momentum when it’s as stop-start has been.”
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