Watford Ladies returned to the top of the Women’s National League Southern Premier Division table and stretched their unbeaten run to an eighth game in all competitions with a battling 3-2 at Chichester City.

Katie O’Leary’s second-half goal ultimately proved decisive for the Golden Girls after she had opened the scoring and Helen Ward had also netted in the opening 45 minutes of yesterday's game on the south coast.

The hosts had gone into the game with only one point on the board this season, but belied their lowly status and indeed had led midway through the first half.

Head coach Clinton Lancaster made four changes to the side that triumphed 4-0 at Gillingham last time out, with O’Leary and Hattie Kettle returning, while Danielle Scanlon and Katherine Huggins made their first league starts of the campaign.

The visitors were quickly in the driving seat when Ryah Vyse produced a good delivery and O’Leary converted with a first-time finish.

However, the advantage was to last just a minute as captain Megan Fox equalised for Chichester.

Megan Chandler and Andrea Carid were both denied by goalkeeper Isobelle Foster as the Hornets sought to get back in front, only to then find themselves trailing when Gemma Simmonds chipped City into the lead.

It took some superb defending from Nicky Lake to prevent Ward from equalising almost immediately after rounding the keeper, but the Watford skipper was not to be denied for a second time before the interval when she capitalised on a poor back pass.

Lancaster’s side upped the attacking ante in the second half, with Kettle having an effort ruled out, Ward going close before O’Leary hit the crossbar.

Ward had further opportunities but it was O’Leary who was to net what proved to be the winning third goal when she curled a fine finish into the top corner.

The visitors remained on the front foot in the closing stages and Foster prevented O’Leary from completing her hat-trick, while Ward also hit the post.

Watford Ladies: Wilson, Hill, Kettle (Beckett 57), Huggins, Rolandsen, Scanlon (Stojko-Down 61), Chandler, Vyse, Ward, O’Leary, Carid (Fatuga-Dada 68).