Armand Kavaja looked to the positives and praised Watford Ladies’ desire despite the Hornets suffering an eighth defeat in nine Women’s Super League 2 outings this season as they were beaten 3-0 by Aston Villa Ladies at Kings Langley.

The Golden Girls boss thought his side performed well in the first half but they trailed at the break to Alice Hassell’s 12th-minute opener. Jodie Hutton put daylight between the sides two minutes after the restart before Beth Merrick wrapped up the points with 14 minutes remaining to move Villa six points clear of Watford at the bottom of the table having played two games more.

“It was a disappointing result but I thought we played well in the first half,” Kavaja said.

“We were unlucky not to score in the first half and then the second goal killed us. It was a bit of sloppy defending for the second, we didn’t clear the ball but there are positives to take from our first half performance which we’ll take into Thursday’s game.

“The girls never gave up, which was a credit to them. We want the desire and the passion. We want every girl to be committed in every single challenge right to the end, and we did that.”

Phoebe Warner had the visitors’ first two openings, firing narrowly wide after two minutes before failing to test keeper Fran Kitching when she had a clear sight of goal.

Dominating possession, Villa took a deserved lead when Hassell fired home from 10 yards after Kitching failed to hold Amy West’s dangerous right-wing cross.

The visitors should have settled the contest by the half hour mark but Jade Richards struck wide with a snap shot, Kitching tipped West’s looping header on to the crossbar and Samantha Hallsworth denied Jade Richards with a goal line clearance.

Villa duly wrapped up the points shortly after the break when Hutton scored from close range after Warner earned a corner.

Helen Ward went agonisingly close on 54 minutes but there was no way back for Watford as Merrick crashed home number three off the underside of the crossbar.

Attention now turns to Thursday night’s home game against third-placed Brighton & Hove Albion and Kavaja said: “We will get in to training on Tuesday and there are things that I want to work on with the girls in preparation.

“Hopefully we will be able to implement that for the game. It’s about picking ourselves up and going from there.

“We have a young squad with support from senior players so we will come together and hopefully put in a good performance against Brighton.

“It’s hard for younger players when we lose, but senior ones have been through lows as well as highs so they are always a good support to the youngsters, as well as us.

“They have good heads on their shoulders, they’ll bounce back no problem and that’s what we have to do.”

Watford Ladies: Kitching; Fatuga-Dada (Kerr 70), Hinchcliffe, Hallsworth, Hill; Poole, McShane (Munro 82), Petkova (Baranowska 57), Bell, Nuttall; Ward. Subs not used: Harney, Dench, Dickens, Gregoriou.