It’s now six consecutive defeats in the Championship for Watford Women as they were beaten 3-0 by Crystal Palace at Grosvenor Vale this afternoon.

The defeat leaves the Hornets five points adrift of safety and, with the same number of points and goal difference as bottom side Lewes, only the 10 goals they have scored to the south coast club’s three is keeping them out of the basement.

Ironically, Watford’s sole win this season was away at Charlton, who have not lost another game and sit third in the table three points behind leaders Sunderland.

So, Watford have shown they can mix it with – and beat – teams in this higher division, but until they cut out the errors they are going to find a long winter lays ahead.

Wrong balance between being solid and trying to win

Huddersfield 0 Watford 0 - match report

A whole year of unlimited story access for just 60p a week

On the plus side, midfielder Charlotte Fleming made her debut as a second-half substitute. The 21-year-old signed from London City in the summer but was still recovering from an ankle injury, and today marked her first game since August 2022.

She showed some very neat and tidy touches, as well as combativeness and strength, and will undoubtedly add to the Watford options.

There was also a return for Poppy Wilson, who has been sidelined through injury since the opening day of the season. The scorer of the winning goal in May’s Play-Off Final, Wilson brings something extra to the midfield.

So players are returning and Watford will have more options as the season goes on, but if they are going to survive in the Championship then they simply cannot keep giving away soft goals.

The Golden Girls have conceded 21 in nine league games, four more than any other side, and have not kept a clean sheet.

And it was only three minutes in against Palace when they gave the ball away just outside their own box, allowing Palace’s Elise Hughes to get into the area and score at the second attempt after keeper Jacqui Goldsmid had partially blocked her first shot.

The Watford response was good though, and they were snapping into tackles and pinging the ball around well.

Not for the first time, the officials did them no favours as twice Carly Johns appeared to have got in behind the Eagles’ defence before being pulled back by debatable offside decisions.

They had a great chance to level in the 32nd when they moved the ball from the right flank, across the edge of the box and then into the path of Ellie Head on the left. Keeper Demi Lambourne dashed off her line very quickly and managed to take the sting out of Head’s shot, with the loose ball being hacked to safety.

Eight minutes later the ever-dangerous Bianca Baptiste cut in from the right flank and curled a shot just the wrong side of the back post.

Watford had matched Palace for more than half an hour but, having handed their visitors the opener, they then played a significant part in helping them net their second in the 42nd minute.

Watford didn’t clear their lines or get close enough to Molly-Mae Sharpe on the left, and when she centred Hughes rose to beat Goldsmid with a powerful header.

If the first two goals were partly self-inflicted, there was nothing Watford could do about Palace’s third on the stroke of half-time.

The ball ran loose in midfield and Shauna Guyatt smacked a ferocious first-time effort from almost 30 yards that was still rising as it went past Goldsmid before nestling in the top-left corner.

The Watford keeper made a superb save three minutes after the restart, tipping a blistering close-range shot from Shanade Hopcroft onto the bar.

Baptiste saw another shot saved and then substitute Gemma Davison checked inside and saw a lot shot blocked.

The woodwork then came to Palace’s rescue twice in quick succession.

In the 66th minute Baptiste delivered a great cross from the right that Johns met with a first-time shot that looped up and was tipped onto the bar by sub keeper Natalia Negri.

Three minutes later Johns challenged and robbed the ball just outside the Palace box and Baptiste struck it first time, beating the diving Negri but seeing the ball come back off the upright.

Ten minutes from time Goldsmid excelled again, diving full length to palm away a curling free-kick from Hopcroft.

Watford: Goldsmid; Lafayette, Meiwald (Leon 62), McLean, Baptiste, Johns (Rossiter 82), Head (Davison 62), Bennett, Georgiou (Wilson 54), Chandler, Haines (Fleming 54). Subs not used: Harris, Palisch, Reid, Henson.