Elise Hughes’ hat-trick inspired Charlton Athletic to a 4-0 victory over Watford at Vicarage Road, as they climbed to the top of the FA Women’s Championship.
The Addicks got off to a flying start when Anna Filbey tapped her effort from close-range past Georgie Ferguson with only three minutes gone, as Watford failed to clear the danger from Lois Roche’s resulting corner.
They doubled their advantage six minutes later when Megan Wynne’s fine cross found Hughes, who sent a looping header into the top corner.
Watford registered their first effort on target in the 14th minute when Helen Ward struck a curling effort towards the near post parried away for a corner before Chiara Meola’s powerful strike flew over the bar.
Clinton Lancaster’s side almost pulled a goal back, with Amber-Keegan Stobbs finding Ward as she looked to slot her effort into the bottom corner, forcing Eartha Cumings to produce an astounding save.
The visitors tripled their lead before the hour mark when Lois Roche forced Ferguson to make a save with her legs and Hughes converted the rebound to slot the ball into the empty net.
Three minutes later, Karen Hills’ side were awarded a spot-kick after Yliena Priest brought down Filbey and Hughes converted into the bottom corner to complete her hat-trick.
Charlton manager Karen Hills said: “I couldn’t be prouder of the girls for the whole week of work which was capped off with a comfortable 4-0 win at Vicarage Road. We started really well which probably put us in a comfortable position in that first 10 minutes.
“Timing of goals is so critical in this league. We came out of the blocks and were on the front foot as we took the game to Watford. We got the corner set-piece straight away which was great to see because it’s an area we have been working on.
“It’s always nice to score an early goal, but to score two, it gives you a little bit more momentum.
“Elise has come into this team as an unknown and we now know the calibre of a young player she is.
“Her standards are high and she works exceptionally hard on the training pitch to improve her technique. She’s still got a lot to learn and game time is going to help.
“Those goals will give her a lot of confidence and I really do believe we will see Elise grow this season.”
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