Hughes’s brace downs Watford as Palace win 3-0
Watford 0 v Crystal Palace 3
By Football reporter
Elise Hughes’ double guided Crystal Palace to a routine 3-0 win at Grosvenor Vale and subjected Watford to their sixth consecutive Championship loss.
The Golden Girls came into the clash looking for their first league points since September but an electric first half from the visitors ensured their testing run would continue.
Hughes needed just three minutes to open the scoring, capitalising on a poor clearance from Hornets keeper Jacqui Goldsmid to put the Eagles in front.
Watford battled for an equaliser, with Bianca Baptiste and Sophie McLean working hard to trouble the visitors, but the Hornets’ task became harder when Molly-Mae Sharpe’s fine cross was confidently headed home by Hughes.
Shauna Guyatt then opened her senior account in some style, firing home from 30 yards to leave Palace firmly in the ascendancy at half time.
The hosts improved after the break as Carly Johns and substitute Gemma Davidson both troubled Palace’s keeper Demi Lambourne, who was subsequently replaced following a head injury.
Baptiste continued to cause problems but lacked a finisher for her numerous deliveries into the box, while attempts from Paige Bailey-Gayle and Shanade Hopcroft were kept out by Lambourne’s replacement Natalia Negri.
At the other end, Hughes was on the hunt for a hat-trick but she sent a shot wide from one of the final chances of the game.
Crystal Palace head coach Laura Kaminski said: “We showed a great togetherness and understanding.
“I was much happier with the performance as a whole than the previous one.
“Between the posts, Elise is a key, fundamental part of our squad. I can’t fault Elise on her professionalism, and she deserves everything she gets.
Hughes added: “It’s about the three points for the team, first and foremost. My job is just to help contribute to the goals”
Watford assistant coach Matt Bevans explained that the Hornets ‘have to find ways to be better’, adding: “We knew it was going to be tough this season, coming up from the division below, being the only part-time team.
“The only way for us to get out of the relegation zone is by putting the work in.
“I won’t sugar-coat it, our next two matches are huge. There’s no point in me saying ‘it’s just another game’, because they’re both very big games.”
Watford travel to Reading next weekend, while Crystal Palace host Lewes – the only side currently below Watford in the table – at the VBS Community Stadium.
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