A hat-trick from Sarah Wiltshire inspired a rampant Watford Ladies as they ran out 4-0 winners over Aston Villa.
Wiltshire’s treble was added to by striker Jo Wilson as Watford’s impressive league form continued against the West Midlands club.
The match took a little while to get going and it was Villa that had the first effort on target after eight minutes, forcing a neat save from Watford keeper Lauren Davey down to her right.
But on 19 minutes Watford were awarded a penalty when winger Kate Natkiel was bundled over in the box.
Calm play by Wiltshire saw the ball played to Emma Beckett, who clipped a pass to Natkiel, before she was taken out by a Villa defender.
Wiltshire stepped up to smash past the Villa keeper and give Watford the lead, which seemed to galvanise the side as they pushed for another.
Wiltshire hit the post from close range on 40 minutes, before Beckett fired over just before half-time.
Watford flew out of the blocks in the second half and completely over-powered their opponents.
Two goals in 90 seconds completely killed the game off as Wilson and Wiltshire added goals two and three.
The first saw Wiltshire loop a cleverly weighted ball over the Villa defence to set Wilson away, who smashed a shot on the half volley past the Villa keeper off the post.
Just over a minute later, a free-kick wide on the right saw Wiltshire bend a left foot effort towards goal, before a deflection off of a Villa defender took the ball past the keeper and into the top corner, increasing Watford’s advantage.
A quiet period for both sides followed with neither team able to create much, other than a few long distance efforts that failed to trouble the two keepers.
But it was on 74 minutes that Wiltshire completed a stunning hat-trick when she again lined up a free-kick, from fully 35 yards, and looped it over the keeper into the top corner to make it 4-0.
The last chance of the game fell to Josie Green on 89 minutes when she fired straight at the keeper from 20 yards following a neat layoff from Wilson.
It was a fantastic performance from Watford and showed a lot of character following the club’s FA Cup exit last week.
Manager John Salomon was full of praise for his side and felt the result was richly deserved.
“The Villa performance was one of our most dominant performances of the season. We played with belief, desire and unity and that is a recipe for success with this group of players.
“Villa are a very good side and have been on a great run in the league, so this result and performance is significant.
“Every player played their part in the win and I’m absolutely delighted with the outcome. I said before the game that this is the business end of the season and its exactly the reaction we were looking for.
“With six games to go we’re in a great place and we’ll aim to gather even more momentum in the run in.”