Watford Women 1 (O’Leary 42) Wolves Women 4 (J. Cross 9, Darby 52, Morphet 72 (p), Palmer 76)
Wolves Women produced another stunning FA Cup performance to not just overcome the side top of the tier above them in the women's football pyramid but dominate, as they reached the fourth round at the expense of Watford.
Dan McNamara’s side made a fast start to the match at Kings Langley FC, as the club’s top striker for the past five seasons, Jade Cross, opened the scoring. Although Watford ended the half level, Wolves were a powerful force in the second period.
Kelly Darby turned a fizzing Anna Morphet free-kick in at the far post to put Wolves back in front, before provider Morphet turned scorer when she turned home a penalty with 20 minutes remaining. But it was Jamila Palmer’s long-range effort which secured a place in the fourth round of the Vitality Women’s FA Cup on another incredible afternoon for Wolves Women.
The pace of Jade Cross was immediately causing danger to the Watford defence, with the energetic striker pressing and closing down the host’s backline, as she attempted to force her opponents into an early mistake.
And that is exactly what happened with just ten minutes on the clock as Wolves’ top scorer broke the deadlock. Lowri Walker started the quick break by winning the ball back in the middle of the park and what looked like an innocuous loose ball was attempted to be cleared by Watford goalkeeper Chrissie Wiggins, but Cross stole the ball before turning it into an empty net.
After her first goal of the season got Wolves level last weekend in the second round, Nyah Edwards forced Wiggins into a good save from the edge of the area after good attacking play by Wolves. Cross once again stole the ball from the Watford defence and having laid the ball to Jamila Palmer, who in turn passed it to Walker, it ended up at Edwards who hit a low shot towards the bottom corner which was gathered by the keeper.
Despite Wolves having much of the chances in the opening stages, Watford showed signs of their quality through Megan Chandler, who let fly from 25 yards, but her effort just narrowly missed over the top of Bec Thomas’ crossbar.
Throughout the first-half, Anna Price was a threat from set-pieces, with the Wolves captain getting up well in the box as she attempted to direct several headers towards goal, but without troubling Wiggins.
Just before the break, Wolves found themselves being pegged back. Clever play by Emma Beckett set Francesca Ali clear behind the visitor’s defence, and her cross was guided past Thomas by Katie O’Leary.
Wolves came close to getting back in front moments later as Jade Cross played in Alisha Miller down the right, and although her cross into the box was just in front of the boot of Cross, the ball fell to Tammi George whose first-time effort from 18 yards clipped the top crossbar with Wiggins beaten.
Half-time: Watford 1-1 Wolves
Wolves’ strong start to the first-half was replicated following the break, as Darby struck to put her side back ahead.
Minutes after Jade Cross had tested Wiggins from a tight angle, Wolves were rewarded a free-kick on the left. Morphet whipped a dangerous cross towards the far post and Darby made a clever run behind the Watford defence to guide the ball into the back of the net.
Watford captain Adekite Fatuga-Dada was causing Wolves problems as she cut in from the right wing and used clever footwork to get past several players in sky blue and white away shirts, but having made space just inside the area, her shot untroubled Thomas as it narrowly missed the right post.
The pressure was being ramped up by Wolves, with Jade Cross continuing to give the Watford defence no time or space, and Palmer curled an effort wide having found space on the edge of the box.
And their pressure told with less than 20 minutes remaining when George was clipped in the penalty area and the referee pointed to the spot. From 12 yards, Morphet made no mistake as she placed her spot kick beyond Wiggins and into the bottom right corner.
The game was getting better and better for fourth tier Wolves against a side which had topped tier three before the season was made null and void, as Palmer added a fourth when she let fly from 20 yards out. With bodies blocking her view, Watford keeper Wiggins let the ball slip under her and could do nothing to stop it trickling over the goalline.
Despite a three goal advantage, Wolves continued to press late in the game, with the final whistle sealing McNamara’s side a fourth round fixture with Women’s Championship side Blackburn Rovers next weekend.
Full-time: Watford 1-4 Wolves
Watford: Wiggins, Vyse (Harney 73), Bell (Smith 84), Meiwald (Stojko-Down 61), Huggins, Chandler, Ali, Beckett, Fatuga-Dada, Kmita, O’Leary (Holt 84).
Unused subs: McLean, Lewin, Humes, Biggadike.
Wolves: Thomas, Darby, E. Cross, Morphet, Price, Walker (Evans 55), Edwards (Conlan 62), George (Dicken 87), Palmer, Miller, J. Cross.
Unused subs: Conod, Johnson, Riley, Paraiso, Glover, Anslow.