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Watford Ladies hold champions Sunderland to draw
12:09pm Monday 8th October 2012 in Sport
Watford Ladies showed just how much difference a year can make as they showed the Women’s National Premier League they are a team not to be underestimated by holding champions Sunderland to a 2-2 draw yesterday.
After last year’s 8-2 defeat to the Black Cats, the Golden Girls showed their impressive start to the season is fully justified as they took the lead and fought back to take a point in a game they arguably deserved to win.
Manager John Salomon was understandably pleased after the match and said: “It’s a very good result today and a great marker of how far we have come.
“Our defensive discipline was brilliant, stopping Sunderland from playing through us which often resulted in them playing a long ball game to try and break us down. We showed great character to come from behind to grab a point and it was certainly no more than we deserved.
“On another day, with the chances we had, I felt we might have won the game, but I’m very proud of the players today.”
It was the visitors who started the quicker as they tried to break down the Watford defence and the Hornets held strong after some early pressure and a Beth Mead shot that whistled just past the post.
The near miss seemed to lift manager John Salomon’s side who produced a slick move to force Rachel Laws in the Sunderland goal into a fine save.
A lofted ball from Emma Beckett found Kate Natkiel, who slipped in Sarah Wiltshire and the striker’s quick feet allowed her to turn and shoot on goal.
Lauren Davey was called into action in an excellent first half as she could only palm away a cross shot into the box and as the ball fell to Sophie Williams with the goal at her mercy she blazed over the bar.
The Hornets were more than holding their own against a strong side and midway through the half found themselves in front.
A quick throw caused havoc in the defence as a miscued header found Jo Wilson, who took the ball in her stride and dispatched it into the back of the net - the goal giving the Golden Girls even more confidence as they grew into the match more and more.
With the Hornets finishing the half well, a Rachel Furness effort from long range kept the home side on their toes before a neat through ball from Josie Green was dealt with quickly by Laws to deny Wilson her second of the game.
After the break it was the visitors who caught Watford napping as a diagonal ball just evaded Ellie Butterwick, who couldn’t get a toe to the ball to stop Keira Ramshaw tucking it past Davey for the equaliser.
Watford bounced back well and good play by Wiltshire found Wilson, whose dangerous ball into the box had to be dealt with by Laws as numerous Watford players closed in on the ball.
Wiltshire was involved again as she produced another piece of quality to fire in a shot that was tipped over the bar well by Laws.
Wilson showed her typical work ethic as she intercepted a ball, leaving the keeper stranded. She played the ball into the box to Wiltshire, whose shot was blocked well by a Sunderland defender, working back to keep the scores level.
Natkiel had another long-range effort that just went over the bar as Watford were knocking at the door to take the lead again.
It was Sunderland, however, who managed to take the lead next as Mead showed good strength to get into the box, only to go down easily under the challenge of Renee Hector for the award of a penalty.
It was questionable but Kelly Mcdougall converted from 12 yards as Davey got a hand to the spot kick but couldn’t keep out the midfielder’s effort.
Watford showed great spirit to fight back into the game as a string of corners saw them ramp up the pressure on the north east outfit.
That pressure finally told when Abby Holmes recklessly took down Wilson in the box and with time ticking down, Wiltshire made no mistake to give Watford a point they so rightfully deserved.
Watford showed that, like their opponents, they will be one of the teams to beat this year and the result will go a long way to boosting the confidence of a young and progressing team.
Watford Ladies: Davey; Mays, Gunn, Hector, Butterwick (Knell); Beckett, Gibbons; Natkiel, Wiltshire, Green (Martin Garcia); Wilson (Logie).
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