Watford Ladies will take on Chelsea Ladies in the fifth round of the FA Women’s Cup after they recorded a hard-fought 2-1 win against Keynsham Town.
It was a new face on the scoresheet as Hollie Wride got her first goal for the Golden Girls, and there would then only be a 13-minute wait until she scored her second.
Justine Lorton-Radburn got one back just before half-time but the Golden Girls had few problems holding onto their lead in the second half.
It was an even opening 10 minutes, with the visitors belying their lowly league position in the Premier League.
They had the first shot on target, when Olivera Marovic tried her luck from distance but Shayla Burgess gathered well.
The Lady Hornets were forcing a number of corners and nearly took the lead from one on 21 minutes. Elena Passare appeared to throw the ball into her own net but the referee ruled that there was a foul.
It was far from our best performance but we did what was needed to do to get through.Watford Ladies manager John Salomon
Eventually Watford did go in front and, unsurprisingly, it was from a corner – Dawn Mallett delivered to the near post and a deft flick from Wride took the ball past Passare and the player on the goalline.
The left-back had an eventful first half and was in the wars shortly afterwards, taking a knock to her arm after a collision with the advertising hoardings. Fortunately, she was fine to continue.
Looking for a second goal, Mallett’s free-kick towards the back post found Hector who narrowly headed over from six yards.
The lead was finally doubled after 41 minutes and Wride was in the thick of the action again. Only she’ll know whether it was meant but her cross-cum-shot deceived Passare in the goal and made it 2-0.
Despite being two down, Keynsham had performed well and they gave themselves a chance just before the break.
An outswinging corner was delivered into the box and Lorton-Radburn rose highest to beat Burgess who had no chance of keeping it out.
There were two changes at half-time for the hosts, with Anneka Nuttall coming on and Courtnay Ward-Chambers making her debut for the first team.
The first chance of the second half fell to Nuttall, who looped a header over Passare’s goal just before the hour mark.
Keynsham, trying to find an equaliser, managed to create a couple of half chances. With 15 minutes left to play, Lorton-Radburn volleyed over from the edge of the area.
Ward-Chambers was impressing on her first appearance, and another Watford debutante, Mollie Burgess, was helping to keep the visitors from testing her namesake Shayla.
The remaining few minutes saw Hector playing up front and her lobbed attempt nearly resulted in a third goal but it went just wide of the right hand post.
Mallett had a number of chances throughout the game but was turned aside on each occasion by Passare. She was denied yet again in stoppage time, as her powerful effort was pushed away for a corner.
The full-time whistle went shortly after and Watford secured their place in the fifth round, fending off a brave effort from the visitors.
Watford manager John Salomon admitted afterwards that he was just pleased to be through. “It was far from our best performance but we did what was needed to do to get through and that’s the most important thing,” he said.
“It’s nice to be in the fifth round because we haven’t got that far in the competition for a few years.
“The girls are really pleased about that but we know that we weren’t at our best today and there’s improvements that need to be made before the season starts in a couple of weeks.”
Goal scorer Wride added: “I’m really pleased to be able to help the side progress to the next round.
“It was good to get off the mark also, after getting my first two goals for Watford, I’m really happy!
“Without a doubt it was all about getting through today. We’ve got more to give and it didn’t help that we had a lot of players out injured today.
“We’ve got the win, we’re into the next round and that’s all that matters. I’m confident that we can improve in future games and show what we’ve actually got to offer.”
Watford: S Burgess, M Burgess, Hector, Robe (Gillard 75), Wride, Gunn, Donnelly, Mallett, Farrow, Deacon (Ward-Chambers HT), Adamson (Nuttall HT)