Watford Ladies returned to Women’s Super League 2 action on Sunday after their summer break and completed a thrilling 5-4 victory against London Bees.
Kate Natkiel struck a hat-trick in the victory while goals from Emma Beckett and Renee Hector ensured victory over the stubborn Bees.
The win puts the Golden Girls fifth in the table and manager John Salomon was pleased to get points on the board after a month without league action.
He said: “It’s good to be able to get three points, it’s nice to catch our breath after a nine-goal thriller.
“It was a great game and good to be back. I think it’s really important to get those first three points on the board straight away which we’ve done now so we can build from here.”
The Hornets broke the deadlock in the tenth minute. Cally Rowell’s free-kick picked out Beckett who headed home the first goal of the match.
The lead was doubled soon after. A corner from Rowell was not dealt with by the Bees defence and Hector doubled the advantage.
London Bees hit back with two goals in quick succession. Dawn Mallett tapped in from close range and Annekka Nuttall also scored.
The Hornets retook the lead before the break as Natkiel’s cross-cum-shot lopped into the corner of the net.
After the restart, a more attacking Beckett saw her 25-yard shot tipped over the woodwork by Sophie Harris but Watford soon scored a fourth.
Natkiel collected the ball and fired past Harris and completed her hat-trick soon after.
The linesman then awarded a penalty to the Bees after a Chloe Gunn tackle prompted a questionably rash decision from the official. However, Amber Gaylor hit the bar and Shayla Burgess saved a subsequent effort from Lucy Loomes.
Ten minutes from time, the Bees were given a second chance to convert a penalty after a Gunn foul on Mallett. Nuttall stepped up and successfully beat Burgess to make it 5-3.
Mallett produced what ended up being a fourth consolation goal for London Bees on 88 minutes as Watford saw out the closing moments to seal victory and collect the three points.
“She definitely meant it [Natkiel’s first goal],” Salomon said. “The second goal was a real good strike and the third goal is her getting into the types of areas that we’re working on in training to try and get her on the scoresheet more.
“I’m really pleased for her because she works really hard through the games, it’s good to see her getting in the goals.”
The Hornets return to Continental Cup action this weekend they host Millwall Lionesses on Sunday, with a 2pm kick-off at Berkhamsted’s Broadwater ground.
Ticket prices for the match are £4 for adults and £2 concessions.
The two sides have already met once this season, playing out an entertaining 2-2 draw on the opening day in WSL2, with a record crowd of 340 at Berkhamsted.