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Bristol City 4 (Emslie 4, Arthur 22, Hemp 67, Ladd 90) Watford 1 (Kerr 74)
Bristol City moved themselves level on points with WSL 2 leaders Yeovil Town after two early goals set them on their way to a comfortable victory at Stoke Gifford.
The home side were quickly into their stride and were rewarded for their fast start after four minutes when Claire Emslie received the ball just inside the area and her shot deflected off Anneka Nuttall and looped over Lucy Gillett before finding the far corner of the net.
Emslie tested Gillett with a firm strike from outside the area as City sought to build on their early goal and Gillett was again called into action with a brave save at the feet of Loren Dykes as she tried to turn in a low cross from Megan Alexander.
Nuttall denied Chloe Arthur with a vital clearing header from an Alexander cross but the respite for Watford was only temporary; the resulting corner, taken by Brett, was headed powerfully home by Arthur at the far post for the second goal.
City continued to attack with the lively Emslie getting in behind the Watford defence on a number of occasions and Gillett twice came to the rescue with an important save. Alexander was in rampant form down the left and another centre saw Dykes miss her header as she attempted to glance in at the near post. Dykes was to go close with another header shortly afterwards from another great cross by Alexander.
Watford responded with their first meaningful effort, a low drive by Anne-Laure Davy which was saved at her near post by Hannah Reid. Arthur went close with another header at the other end as the Vixens ended the half in control of matters.
City created the first opportunity of the second half with Emslie's cross picking out Dykes who was denied at point blank range by Gillett. Jodie Brett was next to go close when she drilled a 20-yard shot narrowly past the post.
The home side were to go even closer on the hour when Flo Allen broke down the right and her far post cross was headed back across goal by Brett for Emslie who headed against the bar from close range. Charlie Estcourt had a shot blocked as City tried to force the ball home but the Watford defence survived the scramble.
City introduced Lauren Hemp for her debut and the highly rated teenager made an impact within six minutes of coming on. After Allen won the ball in midfield, Estcourt slid a through ball into the path of Hemp who drew Gillett before beating her with a composed finish.
The pace and direct running of Hemp gave the home side an extra outlet and she almost scored a second when receiving an Arthur pass and cutting in before driving a left foot shot inches over.
Watford held on and were given a lifeline with sixteen minutes remaining. Nuttall floated a free kick into the area which was not held under pressure by Reid, Otesha Charles' shot was blocked on the line by Eloise Wilson and Charlotte Kerr was on hand to fire home the rebound.
The presence of substitutes Charles and Katie Stanley had given Watford an extra threat up front and it took a good piece of defending from Hayley Ladd to prevent Stanley from getting in and attempting to further reduce the deficit.
As the game went into injury time, City crowned the win with a fourth goal. After a corner was half cleared, Estcourt powered a shot towards goal and Gillett pulled off a fantastic save, tipping the ball onto the post, with Ladd reacting quickest to turn home the rebound and register her first goal for the club.
Bristol City: Hannah Reid, Flo Allen, Megan Alexander, Jodie Brett, Grace McCatty, Georgia Evans (sub Eloise Wilson 66mins), Chloe Arthur, Hayley Ladd, Loren Dykes (sub Lauren Hemp 61mins), Charlie Estcourt, Claire Emslie (sub Paige Sawyer 73mins). Subs not used: Estelle Randall, Olivia Fergusson, Katie Jones, Poppy Wilson.
Watford: Lucy Gillett, Lauren Jordinson, Amber Tullett, Jordan Littleboy, Ruby Baxter, Nicole Pepper, Anneka Nuttall, Adekite Fatuga-Dada (sub Katie Stanley 74mins), Anne-Laure Davy (sub Otesha Charles 66mins), Pheobe Read (sub Ellie Mason 45mins), Charlotte Kerr. Subs not used: Caoimhe O'Reilly, Mollie Burgess, Stacie Donnelly.
(top) Claire Emslie takes on Nicole Pepper
(middle) Chloe Arthur heads in Bristol City's second goal
(bottom) Anneka Nuttall challenges Charlie Estcourt
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