Gunn shoots down the Bees as Golden Girls march on

Chloe Gunn celebrates her winning goal for Watford Ladies against Barnet. Picture by Andrew Waller.
Chloe Gunn celebrates her winning goal for Watford Ladies against Barnet. Picture by Andrew Waller.

Watford Ladies moved to within two points of league leaders Sunderland after a second half goal from defender Chloe Gunn sealed all three points against Barnet.

The Golden Girls had already delivered a victory at Underhill this season when they defeated the Bees 1-0 in the Premier League Cup and the league encounter proved to be just as tight.

It was the away side that got out of the blocks quickest, forcing Barnet onto the back foot within the first 10 minutes.

Welsh international Josie Green had an early chance inside the penalty area but saw her shot roll wide of the goal, before another of Watford’s Welsh contingent, Sarah Wiltshire, drove in a low free-kick from outside the box that Barnet’s young goalkeeper held comfortably.

The Hornets continued to press for that opening goal and Cally Rowell had a good effort from the edge of the box after Jo Wilson’s pass found the midfielder, but her strike flew marginally wide.

Wiltshire was working hard to find an opening and, after good work from Kate Natkiel on the right wing, her low cross found the Watford number seven, who twisted and turned her marker before firing just past the far post.

Barnet looked a threat from set-pieces and their first chance came from a corner which resulted in a strike from the edge of the box flying wide of captain Lauren Davey’s goal.

As Watford pressed for the goal that would break the deadlock, Wiltshire got on the end of a slick passing move inside the area and her side-footed finish found the side netting but the wrong side of the post and the two sides went into the break goalless.

The Golden Girls cranked up the pressure after the re-start as they looked to take the game to their opponents.

The break certainly looked to have revitalised them and it wasn’t long before they carved out another good opportunity.

A positive drive forward from Wiltshire took her to the edge of the box and her pass found Natkiel’s run on the right. The winger crossed for Wilson, whose flicked header was angled nicely to the far post but went inches wide.

Natkiel herself then went close as she stung the hands of the Barnet keeper after again being played in by a Wiltshire through-ball.

Watford forced a number of corners, from which both Emma Beckett and Fliss Gibbons were able to find shots on goal, but none of which could truly test the Barnet keeper.

However, it was to be from another Wiltshire corner that the Hornets got their deserved goal.

Beckett produced an improvised flick-on to help the ball on its way to the far post and Gunn was in the right place to fire her volley into the roof of the net.

Moments later, Wilson was tripped in the penalty area but the referee turned away some very loud appeals for a spot-kick.

Beckett had a goal-bound shot superbly blocked by a brave Barnet defender and Green found the keeper’s arms with her rebound.

Wiltshire then cut in from the left and struck a right-footed drive that had the keeper beaten but flew just past the far post.

A flurry of Barnet corners threatened what would be a tough equaliser for Watford to take, but the defence held firm to seal the win.

Wartford manager John Salomon was delighted to have picked up another hard fought three points.

“Today’s result is another significant stepping-stone to where we want to be,” he said. “We had to work hard, persevere and maintain our focus, as Barnet defended resolutely.

“What pleases me the most is that we are getting results, but on top of this our performances are evolving and improving with every game and in every training session.

“I’m really encouraged with the direction we’re heading in. We’ve closed the gap to two points on the leaders again and the more we do that, the more we’ll keep asking questions of them”.

Watford’s next match sees a trip to south coast on Sunday, as they face Portsmouth.