The Continental Cup brought no light relief for Watford Women as they were beaten 3-0 by Crystal Palace at Sutton United’s VBS Community Stadium tonight.

Watford, who led Group C before kick-off, made eight changes to the team that lost at home to Sheffield United on Sunday, including a first start for Poppy Wilson since the opening day of the season after she had been sidelined by injury and illness.

The Hornets carved out the first chance of the night in the fifth minute when Lucia Leon played in Wilson, but her shot found the side netting.

Within a minute, Leon created another opening as her pass teed up Ellie Head for a shot which Eagles keeper Natalia Negri pushed round the post.

The hosts responded and Alexia Potter released a shot which Jacqui Goldsmid held comfortably.

Leon continued to offer good service from the flank and her 15th-minute cross was nodded just wide of the near post by Head.

After half an hour Isabella Sibley centred towards Elise Hughes, but good defending from Katie Reid denied the striker a shooting opportunity.

Five minutes later Palace skipper Aimee Everett rose well to meet Paige Bailey-Gayle’s corner but sent her header over the bar.

Watford went straight down the other end and when Wilson saw her shot blocked, Coral Haines fired the loose ball wide.

The home side had the final chance of a goalless first half when Bailey-Gayle held the ball up well and then laid it off to Shauna Guyatt, but she sent her shot over the target.

Shortly after half-time Flo Fyfe worked space in the box but saw her effort saved by Negri, and then down the other end Goldsmid gathered a 20-yard effort from Sibley.

The home side went ahead in the 53rd minute. Potter saw her initial shot blocked, but the ball ran loose and Kirsten Reilly slotted it home.

Just after the hour mark it needed a heroic block from Lia Cataldo to deny Leon the equaliser, and the hosts duly capitalised by going 2-0 up in the 71st minute.

To make matters worse it was a goal with her first touch by substitute Araya Dennis following a pass from Molly Sharpe – Dennis had a spell with Watford last season.

Five minutes later it was game over as Sharpe found Hughes in the box, and she scored with a composed finish.

The Golden Girls will now need to win their last group game, at home to Lewes on Wednesday, January 24, to have a chance of progressing.

Watford: Goldsmid; Leon (Davison 69), Meiwald, Head (Baptiste 69), Georgiou, Harbert, Wilson (Rossiter ht), Fyfe (Lafayette 84), Haines, Reid, Henson. Subs not used: Harris, Fleming, Johns, Chandler, Palisch