Watford Ladies will face the challenge of a trip to Women’s Super League big guns Manchester City in the fourth round of the Women’s FA Cup following their sparkling 7-2 triumph at Middlesbrough yesterday.

Captain Helen Ward led the way with four goals as the Golden Goals raced into a 3-1 lead inside the opening 20 minutes, were 4-2 in front at the break before cementing their place in the next round after the interval.

They are now due to face the 2017 winners, who are currently second in the WSL table, in the next round on Sunday, February 3.

Sunday’s tie got off to a whirlwind start when a Adekite Fatuga-Dada corner picked out Danielle Scanlon, who got away from a marker to head the Hornets into a seventh-minute lead.

That advantage was swiftly doubled when Boro afforded Ward too much space in the box and she beat the goalkeeper at her near post.

The shocked hosts gained a foothold in the contest when Emily Scarr capitalised on a defensive mix-up to pull one back.

But Watford’s response to that goal couldn’t have been more emphatic as they restored their two-goal cushion just 14 seconds after the kick-off when Fatuga-Dada’s intelligent ball found Ward, who lifted her finish over Ashleigh Trainer.

Still the goals kept coming as the home side again cut Watford’s lead to one before the half-hour mark when Holly Manders headed in from 15 yards, although the last touch may have come off Eleanor Dale.

That was to be as good as it got for the home side though, as the Golden Girls moved 4-2 ahead before the break when Ward turned supplier with a deep cross to the back post which Katie O’Leary headed in from close range.

Middlesbrough did try and find a way back into the contest in the opening 15 minutes of the second half, with Tyler Dodds firing a great chance over before Watford goalkeeper Weronika Baranowska did well to deny Scarr.

But the home side were to be undone again when Samantha Hallsworth pushed up field and her cross-cum-shot deceived Trainer.

After Baranowska had made another good save, Ward took centre stage in the final 10 minutes, completing her hat-trick after Fatuga-Dada had put her through one-on-one, before the skipper netted her fourth when she slotted through the keeper’s legs from a similar opportunity.

The margin of victory could have been even more, but O’Leary shot over the top while Leanne Bell saw another effort hit the crossbar.

Watford Ladies: Baranowska; Hallsworth (Baker 66), Edwards, Hill, Huggins, Scanlon (Kettle 82), Stojko-Down, Fatuga-Dada, Carid (Bell 51), O’Leary, Ward.