- Albion beat Watford 4-1 at Culver Road
- Simona Petkova gives Watford a shock lead
- Danielle Buet (penalty), Ini Umotong, Bronwen Thomas and Kirsty Barton on target for Albion
- Seagulls move up to second after Millwall's 3-0 defeat to Sheffield
Brighton & Hove Albion claimed their third consecutive victory to continue their FA WSL 2 title challenge, following a comfortable 4-1 victory over Watford at Culver Road.
Simona Petkova gave the Hornets a shock lead, but the Seagulls recovered to claim a convincing win, thanks to Danielle Buet’s penalty and a goal each from Ini Umotong, Bronwen Thomas and Kirsty Barton.
Watford broke the deadlock in the 16th minute when Petkova latched onto Helen Ward’s pass and saw her left-footed strike beat Lucy Gillett, despite the Albion keeper getting a good hand to the ball.
But parity was restored within two minutes when Jenna Legg was brought down inside the box and Player of the Season Buet fired the resulting spot-kick past Frances Kitching.
The Seagulls turned the game on its head when Umotong rose highest to head home Chloe Peplow’s corner for her tenth goal of the season.
Hope Powell’s side thought they had a third when Peplow fired in a ferocious long-range strike, which bounced off the underside of the bar, but despite Albion’s protests, neither the referee nor linesman felt it had crossed the line.
Albion did get a third goal which their dominance warranted, after Umotong fed Fliss Gibbons down the left. Her surging run resulted in a perfectly placed cross for Thomas to fire home in first-half stoppage time.
The Seagulls continued their dominance after the re-start, as Thomas cut in off the left-hand side and saw her shot spilled by Kitching before Watford cleared the danger.
The Welsh youngster had an even better chance to get her second and Albion’s fourth after being played through on goal with only Kitching to beat, but her dinked effort went just past the far post.
Umotong continued to put in a tireless display and she showed some brilliant strength to force her way into the area before shooting straight at Kitching.
Albion piled on the pressure, as Fern Whelan saw her fierce close-range header go over the bar, before Umotong made a driving run down the right to pick out Kate Natkiel, who scuffed her close-range effort.
Tyra Poole went down during the build-up to that chance and had to be stretchered off midway through the half, before being replaced by Linda Afuakwah.
Any hopes of an unlikely Watford comeback were quashed in the 74th minute, when substitute Barton clinically fired home a loose ball into the box to make it 4-1.
Natkiel came agonisingly close to scoring Albion’s fifth against her former club after being played through by Umotong, but Sydney Hinchcliffe brilliantly cleared the shot away from goal.
Powell’s team saw out the closing stages with relative ease, as the team moved up to second place following Millwall's surprise 3-0 defeat away at Sheffield.
ALBION: Gillett; F.Whelan (Ritchie 65), Rafferty, Gibbons; A.Whelan, Legg, Peplow (Barton 71), Buet (C), Natkiel (Ashton-Jones 82); Thomas, Umotong.
SUBS NOT USED: Hartley (GK), Somes.