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Watford 0 Coventry City 0
Watford secured their first point in the National Division with a battling 0-0 draw against leaders Coventry at Northwood.
With managers Neil Hart and Sam Perrin having resigned in midweek, the players reacted with a performance which matched the Sky Blues in every aspect. Both sides defied the baking October heat to produce a match full of endeavour but were unable to find the finishing touch which would have made the difference.
Watford welcomed back Lauren Davey in goal after around a year out through injury and she was well protected by a fine display by the back four. It took 18 minutes for the first chance to fall to Watford, an Ellie Butterwick corner headed wide by Cori Daniels. Maz Gauntlett had two efforts just wide from the edge of the area and Emily Simpkins hit a free kick just beyond the far post from wide on the left as Coventry had a good spell midway through the half.
The home team then took over, Sarah Wiltshire racing past two defenders before firing into the side netting. Paige Logie had a good chance on 38 minutes but could not direct her shot from ten yards on target. Sue Wood was forced into a diving save from a Holly Miles shot and Wiltshire then fired inches over from 30 yards as Watford went into the break in the ascendency.
Davey made a vital contribution on 55 minutes, brilliantly turning over a 40-yard Simpkins free kick, at the expense of a painful knock, then catching the corner under pressure after treatment. Her opposite number, Wood, then made a good save when Logie, Emily Sherwood and Kate Natkiel combined well to create a shooting opportunity as the teams traded chances. Helen Dermody was the next Coventry player to go close with a fine run, but her final effort was blocked. Watford believed that Daniels was fouled when going for a free kick in the area but their penalty claims were waved away on 62 minutes.
The Sky Blues made a triple substitution to try to force the issue, the fresh legs leading to a period of domination and several corners. Christina Torkildson came close to scoring but Davey managed to push her shot away for a corner Dermody nearly drifted another corner in at the far post but the Watford defence held firm to claim a fully justified point after a very hardworking display, not least by Lois Roche in midfield who linked up play very effectively.
Other results did not help either team, with the Sky Blues replaced at the top of the table by Leeds United and Watford left as the only side without a win after Nottingham Forest's victory over Barnet. However, for a young Watford team in particular there were encouraging signs after a traumatic start to the season, such as a first clean sheet whilst for Coventry, the fact that they have risen from Combination level to challenging at the top of the National Division is a fantastic achievement in itself.
Watford: Lauren Davey, Vicky Wotton, Sahara Osbourne-Ricketts, Cori Daniels, Ellie Butterwick, Holly Miles, Lois Roche, Paige Logie, Sarah Wiltshire, Kate Natkiel, Emily Sherwood. Subs: Chloe Gunn, Brooke Nunn, Renne Hector.
Coventry City: Sue Wood, Kayleigh Steele, Katy Ward, Natasha Lynch, Sinead Butler, Callan Barber, Emily Simpkins, Jade Formaston, Helen Dermody, Maz Gauntlett, Courtney Sweetman-Kirk. Subs: Nat Wilcox, Christina Torkildson, Milly Durrant, Danni Saulter.
(Report by Patrick Higgins)
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