Watford Ladies’ unbeaten run extended to seven games following a hard-fought 2-0 win in the FA Women’s Premier League Cup at Tottenham Hotspur Ladies, which saw them progress to the knockout stage.
Sunday's contest, played at Harlow Town FC, took a little while to get going, but goals from midfielder Emma Beckett and defender Renee Hector were enough to hand the Golden Girls the win.
Manager John Salomon said: “I'm really pleased with the result today and to have secured our place in the knockout stages. Credit to Spurs, they made it very difficult for us, but we showed great spirit and determination and secured the result we needed.
"We said at the start of the season that we wanted to better what we achieved last season. Qualifying from the group stage was another thing on our list, so I'm delighted we've secured this with a game remaining and we'll now go all out at Barnet to win the group."
A cagey opening to the match saw neither team create much early on, taking nine minutes for the first effort on target, which was a deflected effort straight at the keeper by Watford’s Sarah Wiltsire.
The visitors started to grow into the game following some solid defending from two Tottenham corners, with Wiltshire firing over on 16 minutes, before chipping an effort straight at the keeper eight minutes later.
Neither keeper was really troubled in the first half, with Lauren Davey saving a couple of efforts fired straight at her, and the Tottenham keeper doing well to keep out a Wiltshire strike on 45 minutes.
The second half started much brighter for Watford, with Wiltshire curling a left foot effort just around the post a minute after the restart, and then stabbing wide six minutes later when rushing through into the box.
Tottenham went close twice within a minute shortly after, firing over from close range and shooting straight at Davey, before Beckett fired in a 25-yard free-kick, which went narrowly wide.
Kate Natkiel shot wide when one-on-one with the Tottenham keeper, and substitute Cally Rowell also went close with a stinging effort from distance that narrowly flashed wide of the post.
Tottenham had their own chance a few minutes later after one of their strikers was sent through with just Davey to beat, but the effort went well wide.
It was on 81 minutes that Watford finally made the breakthrough following a succession of corners.
Wiltshire whipped in a left-footed inswinger into the box, which was met by the head of Beckett, who beat her marker to bag her second goal of the season.
Eight minutes later, a short corner saw the ball worked to the edge of the box to Wiltshire and her shot was fired at the Spurs keeper, who was only able to parry to defender Hector, who stabbed home from a few yards out.
It was a tough day at the office for Watford, but the win sees them through to the second phase of the competition with a game to spare.
Watford Ladies: Davey, Mays, Hector, Gunn, Butterwick, Beckett, Horwood (Rowell), Natkiel, Martin Garcia, Green (Gibbons), Wiltshire.