By Stuart Mawhinney at the City Ground. Monday, 07 May 2007.
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Smith 6, 81, Ludlow 14, 45
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The FA Women's Cup sponsored by E.ON
The Final 2007
1pm, Monday 7 May 2007
The City Ground, Nottingham Forest FC
Live on BBC OneArsenal completed an astonishing season with their fourth major honour after sweeping past Charlton in The FA Women's Cup Final at Nottingham Forest.
After becoming the first English side to lift the UEFA Women's Cup, added to their PremierLeague and Premier League Cup wins, this game presented Vic Akers' side with the chance for an unprecedented clean sweep.
Arsenal did not have it all their own way however, as Katie Holtham opened the scoring and Charlton burst out of the traps to shock the holders in the early stages. Eniola Aluko and Natasha Dowie were at the heart of pressure right from the kick off, before Holtham got on the scoresheet.
Aluko drove past Mary Phillip and Kelly Smith into the penalty area before firing a low cross to the back post where Holtham was on hand to steer the ball into the bottom corner.
The crowd were jumping as the Final got off to a vibrant beginning and the fans didn't have long to wait before the scores were level. Maria Bertelli chopped Kelly Smith down 25 yards from goal and received a yellow card for the foul, but the ultimate punishment was still to come.
Smith dusted herself down and stepped up to fire the free kick into the top corner and put the Gunners back on level terms.
Eight minutes later and it was Arsenal who were on top as their skipper Jayne Ludlow poked home from close range, just as she did in the Premier League Cup Final against Leeds. Lianne Sanderson delivered the cross and Ludlow arrived at the near post to prod the ball through Toni-Anne Wayne's legs in the Charlton goal.
Charlton rallied after letting their lead slip so quickly and had chances to get back into the game as the half progressed, the enthusiasm of Aluko and Dowie was well matched by the tireless running of Katie Holtham.
Seven minutes before half time Aluko ghosted past three Arsenal defenders on the edge of the box before hitting a firm shot that cannoned off Ludlow's shin. The ballfell kindly to Katie Holtham who attempted to help the ball towards goal, but her looping effort went narrowly over Emma Byrne's crossbar.
In stoppage time before the end of the first period Ludlow brightened up the City Ground again with a tremendous half volley that flew into the top corner. Karen Hills rose highest to head a Sanderson cross away, but Ludlow met the clearance will full force and doubled the Gunners' advantage as they headed into the interval.
Julie Fleeting almost put the tie beyond Charlton straight from the restart as she found herself on the end of a flowing move involving Smith and Yankey. Wayne did well to deflect the effort wide of the post, but from the resulting corner Yankey came close again as she beat two defenders before striking the woodwork with a left-footed effort.
Emma Byrne was called into action midway through the second period as Eniola Aluko found space behind the Arsenal defence. Though Aluko angled her effort towards the bottom corner, Byrne was able to deflect it wide with her feet and maintain the two-goal advantage.
Kelly Smith confirmed the destination of the Cup with her second goal of the game, this time a right-footed shot from the edge of the box that was tucked nicely in the far corner. Though the scoreline was tough on Charlton it was a measure of the power of Vic Akers' side who are relentless in their pursuit of silverware and close the season with an incredible four trophies in the cabinet.Teams:
1 Emma Byrne, 4 Jayne Ludlow (c), 7 Ciara Grant, 8 Kelly Smith, 9 Lianne Sanderson (14 Karen Carney 64), 10 Julie Fleeting (20 Gemma Davison 79), 11 Rachel Yankey, 12 Alex Scott, 17 Katie Chapman, 18 Anita Asante, 23 Mary Phillip Subs Not Used:
6 Faye White, 16 Sian Larkin, 24 Rebecca Spencer Charlton Athletic:
13 Toni-Anne Wayne, 2 Casey Stoney (c), 4 Katie Holtham (15 Natasha Hughes 85), 5 Karen Hills, 6 Maria Bertelli, 7 Danielle Murphy, 9 Eniola Aluko, 10 Natasha Dowie (12 Anne-Marie Heatherson 85), 11 Jo Potter, 14 Jessica Smith (8 Ashlee Hincks 71), 17 Sinead Boyer Subs Not Used:
1 Pauline Cope, 3 Michelle Hickmott Referee: