Watford Ladies off the mark after stalemate with Millwall Lionesses
Watford Ladies earned their first point of the campaign with a 0-0 draw at home to Millwall Lionesses.
It was a good performance from the Golden Girls who edged the game and had plenty of chances to win it.
Millwall goalkeeper Sarah Quantrill had to be at her best to keep it scoreless, superbly denying Kate Natkiel with 10 minutes to go.
Watford lined-up in a similar shape to the Reading game and started well, creating a couple of chances in the opening stages.
The first fell to Emily Heaslip; she won the ball in a central position, before bringing it forward and shooting just wide from 25 yards out.
Millwall’s defence didn’t have it easy with Kim Farrow hassling throughout – the forward got to a Quantrill spill but the keeper recovered with a sharp stop.
Shayla Burgess had little to do early on but she was at her best after 18 minutes, superbly denying Megan Goss after she was well found by Lillie Billson.
It was a competitive half but further openings were rare, Billson fired over when off balance and Natkiel’s goal bound shot was well blocked.
Burgess was called into action early on in the second half as a short corner was played to Danielle Carlton, but her near post effort was pushed away by the Watford keeper.
The hosts nearly took the lead just before the hour mark; Natkiel did well to keep the ball in before playing it to Stacie Donnelly who shot wide of the right hand post from inside the box.
Jenna Dear was impressing in the middle of the park in her first start for Watford and she almost helped set up the opening goal.
A fantastic pass was played through to Dawn Mallett who showed the composure to pick out Natkiel at the back post, however the Millwall defence were alert to get back and block her effort.
Natkiel, who was involved in much of the forward play throughout, must have thought she had put the Golden Girls in front with 10 minutes to go.
Out on the left, she got the better of the Millwall defender, coming inside and firing towards the top corner, but somehow Quantrill managed to keep the effort out.
The defensive set-up had helped nullify the visitors, however Burgess’ handling was superb for the entire 90 minutes, ensuring the Lionesses didn’t have any more opportunities.
There were few chances of note in the final stages, including the seven minutes of stoppage time played after an unfortunate injury to Renee Hector.
The referee eventually blew for full-time with Watford getting both their first point and clean sheet of the season.
“I thought we pushed on and had the chances to get all three points,” said Watford Ladies manager John Salomon. “We might look at it on reflection and think that it’s a match we should have won.
“The most important thing today was to lay some solid foundations defensively and to get our first point on the board.
“We asked that of the girls and they have come away with the first clean sheet and first points of the season. We’re really pleased and it gives us something to build on.”
The Lady Hornets continued with the shape that had served them well in the previous game away at Reading.
Salomon was pleased with what he saw, adding: “The girls are really starting to learn and understand what we want them to do and you could see that as the game went on.
“We didn’t have the best of starts for the first 10 minutes or so but we settled down, started to ask some questions and were solid throughout defensively.
“Second half we created some very good chances, and on another day we might have nicked a goal or two. It wasn’t to be, Kate had a couple of good efforts, one blocked and the other the keeper has made a great save.
“We’re only a few weeks into the work that we’re doing, with what we’re asking the girls to do in this new shape. To see these signs already is very encouraging, it’s something that’ll give us a lot of confidence going into the Everton match at the weekend.”
Watford: S Burgess, Heaslip, Robe, Gillard, Burgess, Wride, Donnelly (Hector 81, (Adamson 89), Dear, Green, Natkiel, Farrow (Mallett 64). Sub not used: Butterwick.
Booking: Robe (86).