After 112 days, Football was back for Womens teams below the top 2 tiers! That is so long, it would of been an unimaginable thought, pre covid, that all the teams in The FA WNL and lower, were not allowed even a training session for over 100 days! But, Football returned, with The FA Cup and more to play for than ever! The winners got a 3rd Round tie with the winners of Nottingham Forest v Wolverhampton Wanderers, the losers, season over, after all that time, no competitive football until the League restarts in Autumn!
What a day for it, as we looked at a sunny Kings Langley, with a lush green pitch on our TV screens and mobile devices. A big shout out to the many teams who got their games on live streams!
Watford lined up in a 4-3-3 formation. Chrissie Wiggins stepping in the sticks after Sophie Harris left for Leicester City, during the break, usual winger Leanne Bell was at right-back, following Watford Supporters Player of 2020 Ocean Rolandsen also departing to Sheffield United. Skipper Helen Ward lead the line, returning after her loan at London Bees, which kept her ‘Elite’ so she kept her fitness to help her keep in the Welsh National side. A strong side for Watford, the bench was filled with 6 Development players and 1 senior player.
Dons had a strong side too, Laura Bright captained the side and places for ex-Hornets Nicole Pepper and Chez Albert.
The Dons were quick off the blocks, taking the game to Watford, the lush green pitch was actually a very bobbly, slow surface, Watford seemed to struggle with it and the Dons impressive press. The 1st chance of note came for Watford though, Anne Meiwald heading the ball against the bar from a corner, followed by Rosie Kmita being played in a minute later, but she shot straight at keeper Libby Stratton.
Then a deserved goal for MK. Adekite Fatuga-Dada passed inside to nobody, Jade Bell lashed onto it, sped past the defender and slotted the ball past Chrissie Wiggins with a great finish.
Watford were getting frustrated, Helen Ward running at goal, knocked the ball past a defender and got taken down, no free-kick given, to the dismay of the Welsh all-time top scorer. Helen was keeping the Dons defence busy, she skilfully took on the defence on the left and crossed for Fatuga-Dada, who didn’t connect with it and the ball flew well wide.
MK had a good chance from a set-piece on 25 minutes, Pepper though struck it wide. Although Dons were looking the better side, Watford still looked good on the counter, Fatuga-Dada running at the defence and crossing, straight across the box. Emma Beckett started to show her fantastic passing range, playing through Ward, who smashed it into the side netting. Then a moment for The Dons where you think, how did that not go in, Hornets defender Kat Huggins made a mistake, the impressive Jade Bell was through, 1st shot saved by Wiggins, it hit the post, another shot hit a defender on the line and in the goalmouth scramble the ball ends up in the hands of Chrissie Wiggins.
Dons continue to attack, a nice volley from Sasha Newsome was saved by the fingertips of Wiggins, Chez Albert had a free kick in a decent position which sailed over and Bright headed wide from a corner. The half time whistle went, and Dons deservedly lead.
I don’t know what Watford Head Coach said at half time but it worked! I spoke with Adekite Fatuga-Dada after the game, she said she could not repeat what he had said, it was best to say, he was not pleased! Adekite herself set the tempo, running at the Dons defence down the right, her cross, inches too high for Kmita at the far post and then a goal for Watford, Leanne Bell getting forward down the right put in a lovely cross for Rosie Kmita to head home.
Dons did still have their moments. They had a decent penalty shout just after the goal, their was a scramble in the Watford penalty area and a defender ran straight into a Dons attacker. If it would have been given, Watford couldn’t of moaned about it! A minute later, Jade Bell was played through, the entire Hornets defence stopped and called for offside except Anne Meiwald, who chased her down and made an excellent goal-saving tackle.
Fatuga-Dada continued to impress on the right-hand side, running at the defence, unfortunately, there was never anyone on the end of the Crosses. Captain Ward had an ambitious shot from 25 yards, lofting it over the keeper, but it landed on the roof of the net.
On the hour, Rosie Kmita was booked, for arguing with the referee, she wanted a corner, the ref said goal kick. 2 minutes later and Kmita had scored again. Fatuga-Dada sliding beautifully weighted ball through, Rosie rounded the keeper and tapped it home. Another 2 minutes later and Player of the Match Rosie claimed her hat-trick, Emma Beckett played a long ball into the box, defender Hannah Warren and keeper Stratton, both seemed to leave it for each other, Rosie who continued to chase, ended up on the end of it and had an open goal to tap it in.
Watford continued to be on the front foot, Dons made a couple of changes with just under 20 minutes left. Shortly after, Kmita made a late challenge, arguably could have been her 2nd yellow, but the ref gave her a final warning. The ref was dishing out another talking to not long after, Ward was founded outside the box, the ref seemed to give advantage, then gave a free-kick, Helen wasn’t happy and told the ref how she felt, the referee then giving Helen a warning to keep quiet.
After Rosie’s final warning, Lancaster made a triple substitution, Rosie, Megan Chandler and Adekite Fatuga-Dada coming off for Ronnel Humes, making her debut, Alysha Stojko-Down and Anasia Harney. Alysha did have an effort from long-range, straight at the keeper. Another substitution each with a couple of Minutes left and another debut for Watford, a proud moment for Watford FC Women Secretary Si Wheeler as his daughter Molly came on. Humes nearly made some headlines, but she shot straight at the keeper after a Helen Ward lay off.
So that was it. Watford are at home to Wolverhampton Wanderers on Sunday, after they beat Nottingham Forest on penalties flowing a 2-2 draw after extra time. Hopefully the game will be streamed again, its not the same as being there but it is a 2nd best and very much appreciated by us fans!
Photo: Andrew Waller