A Sarah Wiltshire hat-trick helped Watford secure a spot in the fourth round of the FA Women’s Cup with a comfortable 5-1 win away at West Ham United on Sunday.
Jo Wilson and substitute Magda Mosengo were also on target as the Golden Girls set up a trip to Sunderland on March 16 after the Hammers put in a spirited performance and grabbed a late consolation.
"I'm really pleased with the result and the way our hard work in pre-season is starting to show through today's performance," said manager John Salomon. "To be able to perform to this level and still only be half way through pre-season is really exciting."
Captain Wiltshire added: "We created a lot of chances in the first half, but we were patient and in the second half we continued to create chances and took them. I always like scoring but more importantly we won and to score five goals against a good West Ham team is excellent."
The visitors made a bright start as they took control of the game early on and it only took four minutes to open the scoring. Emma Beckett’s cross picked out Wilson perfectly and she headed into the bottom corner.
Kate Natkiel was causing all sorts of problems down the right-hand side and it was almost two as she found Wiltshire but her effort came back off the post.
The West Ham defence were performing well, defending resolutely as Watford searched for the crucial second goal.
It almost arrived before half time. First, Bonnie Horwood had a chance from six yards that was well closed down by the home defence. Then at the end of a lovely passing move, Wiltshire headed wide.
Wiltshire had come close numerous times in the first half but she didn’t have to wait that much longer to open her account, getting the vital second goal on 52 minutes.
Natkiel looped a cross into the box and Wiltshire hit the post, however she was alert and got to her own rebound to finish past Lauren Picton at the second attempt Despite going 2-0 down, West Ham didn’t let their heads drop and searched for a way back into the game. However, some superb blocking from the Watford defenders prevented them from testing first-team debutant, Shayla Burgess.
Picton was having a great game in goal for the hosts and in a five-minute period she saved superbly from Wilson, Wiltshire and Beckett The third goal to seal progression to the next round finally came on 77 minutes when Josie Green took a throw-in quickly to find Wilson in loads of space on the left-hand side and she squared it to Wiltshire for her second and the side's third.
It was 4-0 only a couple of minutes later but it took a number of efforts to finally get the ball home.
The first chance saw Picton deny Megan Wynne, then the ball fell to Cally Rowell who hit the bar from 30 yards, Wiltshire got to the ball first but her effort was saved by Picton before Mosengo finally put the ball in the net to make an instant impact off the bench.
Wiltshire was having a fine game and she secured her hat-trick on 82 minutes. Rowell picked her out in the box and Wiltshire found space away from the defenders to fire home Burgess had been largely untested in goal but she had to be alert after a slip in the Watford defence allowed Kelley Blanchflower a chance from the edge of the box, but the denied her well to her right.
She couldn’t keep a clean sheet on debut though as in the last minute, West Ham sent a dangerous free-kick into the box and after a bit of pin-ball the ball was diverted home from close range.
Watford Ladies: Burgess, Mays, Gulley (Hector 69), Horwood, Butterwick (Green 45), Beckett, Rowell, Natkiel, Wiltshire, Wynne, Wilson (Mosengo 77).