Watford Ladies got off the mark with their first victory of pre-season thanks to a well-earned 3-2 win at Cheltenham Town yesterday.

Goals from Emily Hill, Leanne Bell and captain Helen Ward ensured the Golden Girls registered their first success ahead of the new National League campaign following defeats to Lewes and Leicester City.

They began on the back foot, however, and found themselves behind with Watford goalkeeper Amy Martin left with little chance as a Cheltenham corner was powerfully headed home.

The response from Armand Kavaja’s side was good and they were close to levelling through a Bell effort, only for her to be denied by an excellent sprawling save.

Within moments they had the desired breakthrough as Hill drove at the Robins’ back four, cut on to her stronger right foot and finished well to make it 1-1.

Ward turned provider for the Hornets’ second, finding Bell who clinically fired an effort across the Cheltenham goalkeeper and into the net.

As half-time approached Watford did not let up on their intensity in the sweltering heat, adding a third as a role-reversal of goal number two this time saw Bell find her captain and the Wales international made no mistake to make it 3-1.

The visitors continued to dominate early in the second half, too, with Spanish striker Andrea Carid – a new arrival for the Golden Girls – going close, as did Bell who could easily have doubled her tally for the afternoon.

Watford demonstrated that they remain a work in progress on the hour mark though, gifting Cheltenham a lifeline following a loose pass that left Martin in the Hornets goal with little chance again.

At 3-2 it was firmly game on and they had 16-year-old Martin to thank for ensuring they returned to Hertfordshire with the win.

A Cheltenham free-kick appeared destined to be heading in, only for the Watford goalkeeper to magnificently tip it over the bar and help her side to victory.

The Golden Girls will now conclude their pre-season campaign with a pair of home matches against Maidenhead on Wednesday, before entertaining Stevenage on Thursday, August 16. Both games will be played at Kings Langley FC’s Gaywood Park.

There was similar cause for optimism for Watford Ladies’ Under-23s, meanwhile, after they racked up an impressive 7-2 win again Cheltenham Town’s reserve side.

Watford led 3-1 at the interval thanks to goals from Kayleigh Currivan, Jenny Hughes and Eshe Johnson.

And they were in the mood for more goals after the break as Johnson’s second, and efforts from Holly Greenwood, Alketa Rragami and Linda Afuakwah put the gloss on a fantastic performance.