Sheffield Deliver The Reaction Required And Beat Watford
Sheffield FC ran out comfortable 4-0 winners against struggling Watford to record their first league win in three matches and climb up to seventh place in the WSL2 table.
Sheffield manager, Zoe Johnson, was looking for a big reaction after a lacklustre performance from her team in their last league outing against Brighton & Hove Albion. And happily she got just that!
Johnson made four changes to the starting eleven from that match: Niamh Cashin started at centre half, and Chloe Dixon, Beth Donoghue and Hannah Cain (back having served a three match suspension) took their places in a completely changed top three.
Sheffield took the game to Watford from kick off, with Cain and Dixon both getting behind the defence early on and Ellie Gilliatt, making her 200th appearance for the World's First Football Club, flashed a shot wide of Frances Kitching's goal.
Beth Donoghue broke the deadlock on 17 minutes with her first league goal for the Club after being played through on goal by Emma Johnson, the striker taking a touch and lifting the ball over the on-rushing Kitching.
Sheffield continued to dominate the game, using the full width of the pitch to great effect, allowing them to pen Watford into their own half for long spells of the game. Gilliatt, Cain and Johnson all went close, but for all their dominance in possession, Sheffield still led by a fine margin.
With the half-time break approaching though, Sheffield struck twice in three minutes to ensure the score line reflected the balance of play. First, Hannah Cain continued where she had left off for the England WU19s, turning Fatuga-Dada with a nice bit of skill before unleashing a superb strike into the top corner from outside the box.
And Cain topped a lively first half when she won a penalty for her side having been felled by full-back Charlotte Kerr inside in the box in stoppage time. Midfielder Emma Johnson stepped up to add a goal to her earlier assist and give Sheffield a comfortable buffer going into the break.
Despite the one-sided score it was goalkeeper Kitching that provided Watford’s best moments of the day, pulling off several excellent saves to deny Sheffield an even more comfortable afternoon than they’d been presented with.
Cain might have added to her tally inside four minutes for the restart but for a fine stop by the Chelsea loanee, but Sheffield extended their lead with 15 minutes to go after substitute Rhema Lord-Mears connected with Jackson’s cut back after being put in behind by Dixon, finishing past Kitching from just six yards out.
It could have been five for the hosts just a few minutes later but Kitching again came up with the goods to push Dixon’s curling effort away from danger. But arguably Watford's keeper's best save came two minutes from the end when a super bit of play allowed Gilliatt, determined to mark her milestone for the Club with a goal, to cut in on her right foot to unleash a fierce dipping shot which Kitching clawed out from under the bar to keep the damage to four.
Sheffield FC: Gibbons, Jackson, Cashin, Cox, Gilliatt (c); McCue (Dale 76), Dear (Anderson 63), Johnson, Dixon, Donoghue, Cain (Lord-Mears 63)
Substitutes not used: Holly Housley, Melissa Johnson, Sophie Jones, Nicole Kemp
Bookings: Dear 13
Watford: Kitching, Fatuga-Dada, Hinchliffe, McShane (Hallsworth 82), Kerr, Nuttall (c), Hill, Ward, Bell, Harney (O'Halloran 70), Petkova (Poole 54)
Substitutes not used: Mollie Dench, Andie Dickens
Photos by Joe Smart