For the third consecutive game Watford Women conceded an early goal that set them on their way to a 3-0 defeat at Crystal Palace which pushed them nearer to relegation from the Championship.

The one saving grace from yesterday’s fixtures was that the three teams directly above them all lost as well, although Watford still have to bridge a six-point gap just to clamber out of the relegation zone.

They have four games left, but next up are league leaders Sunderland – they visit Vicarage Road this coming Sunday (2pm), a game where children can attend for free. Click here for more details.

The last game of the season is at home to Reading, one of the two teams above Watford they need to overhaul, but before then they will need to win two of the next three games to give themselves a realistic chance.

Slow starts have made life so much harder for the Hornets in recent weeks, and yesterday at Selhurst Park they were behind after only four minutes.

Molly-Mae Sharpe lived up to her surname to pounce after a shot had been parried, although there were claims from Watford that the striker was offside.

Things got worse seven minutes later when Ria Percival controlled a clearance on the edge of the box before firing into the corner of the net.

Carly Johns latched onto a through ball and dribbled into the box, but Palace skipper Aimee Everett recovered well to prevent a shot.

Lucia Leon forced a save from Eagles keeper Demi Lambourne when she fired a low drive after Harley Bennett’s cross had been headed down.

The home team started the second half on the front foot and Watford keeper Beth Howard made saves to deny Lexi Potter and Izzy Atkinson.

But any hopes Watford had of working their way back into the game were ended in the 58th minute when Elise Hughes had a header cleared but Annabel Blanchard mopped up the loose ball and nodded into the net.

It could easily have been four in the 75th minute when Hughes sent a looping header over Howard but Bennett did well to clear off the line.

Watford: Howard; Leon (Fyfe 63), Lafayette, Fleming (Rossiter ht), Meiwald, McLean, Johns, Bennett (Chandler 78), Georgiou, Harbert (Baptiste 72), Wilson. Subs not used: Harris, Davison, Head, Palisch