Watford Ladies made a flying start to their National League campaign with an impressive 5-2 victory over Cardiff City yesterday.

While their male counterparts were continuing their good start to the campaign at Burnley, captain Helen Ward was leading by example with a hat-trick and also setting up one of the two goals debutant Andrea Carid netted after coming on as a second-half substitute.

Kylie Nolan scored a goal in each half for the Bluebirds but the visitors were out-gunned as the Golden Girls underlined their pre-season promise.

The hosts got off to the ideal start after just seven minutes when Linda Afuakwah released Ward, who had clear run from half-way and she kept her composure to beat fellow Welsh international Laura O’Sullivan.

Cardiff responded strongly though, with goalkeeper Weronika Baranowska parrying Alice Giffiths’ effort from distance before she was also equal to a Kelly Isaac free-kick from 25 yards out.

But the visitors were to get back on terms after 18 minutes when Nolan was given too much space in the box and she beat Baranowska one-on-one.

Danielle Scanlon and Ward had efforts off target, but Watford were back in front before half-time when Ward converted a penalty after Afuakwah had been felled in the area.

Katie O’Leary almost made a scoring impact within 10 minutes of coming on for her debut for the second half, seeing her first effort well saved by O’Sullivan before Shannon Greenway produced a great block to repel the follow up.

But fellow new arrival Carid was to strike within two minutes of entering the fray for her first competitive Watford appearance on the hour, tapping home from close range after being set up by Ward.

Carid was in the right place again with 15 minutes remaining to make it 4-1, this time having been picked out by O’Leary.

Ward was to complete her treble with six minutes of normal time remaining – and ensure the Golden Girls hit five in a league game for the first time since June 2014 – when she was set up Afuakwah.

There was still time for Nolan to score her second for the visitors, but it could not take the gloss off a fine start to the season for Armand Kavaja’s side.

Watford are back in action at Kings Langley this Sunday when they look to make it back-to-back victories against Loughborough Foxes.

Watford FC Ladies: Baranowska; Peck, Kettle (Baker 73), O’Halloran, Huggins; Stojko-Down, Scanlon, Afuakwah, Bell (Carid 62); Shakes (O’Leary 46), Ward. Subs not used: Martin, Akerman.