Albion overcame the Hornets at Culver Road.
- Albion secure their first FAWSL Spring Series victory
- Alessia Russo opens the scoring with a first-half header
- Bronwen Thomas doubles the lead before half-time
- Merrick Will halves the deficit after the break
Brighton & Hove Albion recorded their first victory in the FAWSL Spring Series this afternoon, after beating Watford 2-1 in a closely-contested game at Culver Road.
Alessia Russo’s close-range header opened the scoring for the Seagulls, before Bronwen Thomas found the bottom corner from inside the box, and although Merrick Will pulled a goal back for the visitors, Albion held on for all three points.
George Parris made three changes to the starting line-up that lost 3-1 against Aston Villa last time out, as Ellie Dorey, Hollie Olding and Russo all returned to the side.
Albion created the first opportunity of the game after Russo and Thomas combined well down the right wing, before the latter’s close-range shot at the front post was saved by Watford goalkeeper Lucy Gillet.
But Albion’s early dominance took its toll on their opponents in the sixth minute, when Sophie Perry delivered a free kick into the penalty area and Russo rose highest to head home the opening goal.
Russo continued to cause problems after breaking the deadlock, but Gillet was equal to the forward’s next effort, as she brought the ball down well and fired at goal from 25 yards.
Hornets captain Anneka Nuttall had their first notable chance after finding space to shoot from long range, but the midfielder dragged her low-driven effort wide of the target.
Kate Natkiel then found herself through goal after racing on to Dorey’s clever through-ball, however Watford’s defence tracked back well and blocked the attacker’s goal-bound effort.
The Seagulls doubled their lead in the 33rd minute when Russo’s powerful strike from 25 yards deflected into the path of Thomas, leaving the winger time to pick her spot and find the bottom corner from just inside the box.
Kirsty Barton and Russo had chances to extend Albion’s lead, with the latter hitting the outside of the post from close range, before Seagulls shot-stopper Emma Byrne was forced into making a save from Simona Petkova’s back-post header.
The Hornets pulled a goal back six minutes after the re-start when Barton misjudged her backpass to Byrne, which enabled Will to roll the ball past the Republic of Ireland international from close range.
Few chances were created inside the opening stages of the second half, but Russo tried her luck with an audacious lob from 25 yards after showing excellent control from Perry’s searching pass, however the striker’s effort dropped over.
Byrne was called into action and prevented the visitors from levelling the scoreline, as she saved well with her feet after Rinsola Babajide’s cut inside of Perry and drilled a low shot at goal.
Watford’s pressure continued as they went in search of an equalising goal, but Albion survived another scare as Perry cleared off the line at the back post from Rinsola Babajide’s close-range strike.
Will fired wide of the target in the closing stages for the Hornets, before Gillet saved Natkiel’s curling effort from 25 yards, but the Seagulls held on and secured maximum points.
ALBION: Byrne; Ritchie, Ashton-Jones, Rafferty, Perry; Barton, Natkiel, Olding; Dorey (A.Taylor 76), Russo, Thomas (Somes 88).
SUBS NOT USED: Wilson (GK), N.Taylor.