The pain of defeat and the realisation that relegation now looms large over Watford Women was etched on the face of assistant coach Matt Bevans after the 2-1 defeat at Lewes.

The Hornets are now six points adrift of safety with five games left, and although they still have to play fellow strugglers Reading, the Royals have a game in hand.

“I’m disappointed and frustrated, but I’m proud of how the players dug in. On another day I think we’d get something at the end,” said Bevans.

“The early goal made it tough, but what hurt us more was the goal on the stroke of half-time.

“Going in at 2-0 down instead of 1-0 makes the team-talk a bit different, and the tactics have to be a bit different.

“That second goal really hurt and it was off a set-piece again.

“I’d have to watch the goal back to see exactly what happened but we haven’t deal with set-pieces all season.

“Teams are physically better than us, and that’s a given. You can see it when we line up before games, the difference between the teams.

“But our girls give us everything, they dig in, that’s all we can ask.”

For the second game running, what looked a very obvious trip on striker Carly Johns inside the area was waved away by the referee.

“The luck isn’t with us at the moment, that’s for sure,” Bevans reflected.

“The one today looked even more of a penalty than the one we didn’t get at Sheffield United on Wednesday night.

“The fourth official agreed with me too, so that’s not a good sign.”

Although Watford rarely looked like conceding during the second half at Lewes, they only really came alive after Johns had pulled a goal back at the start of stoppage time.

“It’s frustrating because I know what this group has in them,” Bevans admitted.

“As a staff we know what this group of players can produce, and that’s even when we are light on players as we are at the moment.

“I felt once we scored the first, even though there wasn’t much time, we’d score a second and we had a great chance to do so.

“I think, based on our second-half performance, a 2-2 draw would have been a fair result.”

Now, though, Watford face a mountain to climb in order to stay in the Championship.

“We’ve got five games left and we will give everything for those five games,” said Bevans.

“That is who we are as a group, it’s who I am as a person, it’s who the staff are.

“We won’t give up until it’s done.”