Spirit, determination and quality on the ball all came to the fore as Watford Ladies claimed a breathless 5-4 victory at Plymouth Argyle to keep them at the summit of the FA Women’s National League Southern Premier Division.

The Golden Girls battled back from 2-0 and 3-2 down to go in level at half-time at Home Park yesterday, were then pegged back after taking the lead for the first time before snatching the thrilling win when they were temporarily reduced to 10 players.

The win moved Clinton Lancaster’s side three points clear of Crawley Wasps, who now have a game in hand after their match against Cardiff City was postponed, but the Hornets have a goal difference eight better than their closest rivals.

Plymouth, who are seven points behind Watford in third having played two fewer matches, were quickly out of the blocks and could have taken an early lead when a defensive lapse let in Zoe Cunningham, but she missed the target.

The visitors did not escape in the 21st minute though, when Helen Bleazard drove a free-kick into the roof of the net.

Within two minutes, Watford’s task became even harder as Bow Jackson beat keeper Nina Wilson with a low shot from distance.

The Golden Girls needed a quick response and that’s precisely what they delivered in the 26th minute when, after Ryah Vyse and Adekite Fatuga-Dada had done well to win the ball back in the corner, Helen Ward laid it across to Ocean Rolandsen who took a touch before firing home.

Three goals in five minutes became four in eight as Watford were soon back on terms through Ward, who volleyed in a Kat Huggins corner.

Still the first-half drama wasn’t over as Plymouth regained the lead with another strike from outside the area, this time scored by Cunningham, but the Hornets levelled again when the impressive Emma Beckett rose to head home a Fatuga-Dada corner.

Beckett was to double her tally, and put the Hornets in front for the first time, six minutes after the restart in outstanding fashion when she whipped a free-kick into the top corner from the unlikeliest of positions out on the left flank.

It was to be 4-4 with almost 30 minutes to play though, when Becky Dandridge capitalised from the edge of the 18-yard box after being given too much space.

The momentum then appeared to be with the hosts after Vyse was sin-binned for 10 minutes for dissent. But the Hornets showed their character and togetherness in abundance, digging deep so well that they scored what proved to be the match winner in stunning fashion in the 76th minute when still a player short.

A patient build-up ended with Fatuga-Dada crossing to the back post where Andrea Carid took off and scored with a wonderful diving header.

With Vyse back on, the Golden Girls made sure they didn’t let their advantage slip as they safely negotiated the closing stages to secure a memorable win.

Watford Ladies: Wilson, Vyse, Huggins, Hill, Rolandsen, Ward, Fatuga-Dada, Beckett, Carid, Chandler, Kikomeko.