FA Women's Cup Final
Ricoh Arena, Coventry
Arsenal Ladies reclaimed their FA Cup trophy with a comfortable 2-0 win over Bristol Academy Women at the Ricoh Arena on Saturday.
By David Brenchley
Academy started bright enough but found themselves with an uphill task when they went into half time two goals down thanks to Kim Little and Julie Fleeting.
Little's goal was magical and Fleeting's a poacher's effort as the Gunners put last year's loss to Everton out of their system.
Bristol looked to get forward straight from the kick off, with Grace McCatty winning an early corner, which Jemma Rose headed just wide from the far post.
Arsenal's first chance came from a throw that was inadvertantly flicked into Julie Fleeting's path by an Academy defender but her acrobatic effort went over the bar.
Little then showed some sublime skills as she picked the ball up just outside the area, latching onto some sloppy play in defence, and twisted her way past three Academy players before wrong-footing Chamberlain.
The Gunners then almost doubled their advantage when a long kick from Emma Byrne beat Alex Culvin, Ellen White then surged into the penalty area before laying off to Fleeting whose shot was blocked and went for a corner.
More nice approach play saw Arsenal full back Steph Houghton get within sight of the goal but she dragged her shot wide, the Londoners were now well and truly in the driving seat.
The 10-time winners then went close twice more in succession as Fleeting rattled the crossbar and Chamberlain made an excellent save from White.
The game was seemingly put to bed from the resulting throw as Little's first time cross was headed in by Fleeting. That wasn't the end of a great spell for the Gunners, though, as Yankey headed just over from a corner just a minute later.
A slight reprieve from the pressure came for the Vixens when Loren Dykes latched onto a loose ball around halfway but her throughball could not find Jess Fishlock as Byrne came out to collect.
The final action of the first half saw a Helen Bleazard free kick fly well over after Fishlock had been felled in an arial challenge with Arsenal skipper Katie Chapman, which saw her replaced at the interval by youngster Lillie Billson.
Again Bristol had the first chance of the half when Bleazard's free kick from the left touchline looked dangerous but could only find its way into Byrne's hands.
Arsenal came immediately back on the attack, though, and Yankey's cross was missed by White and Fleeting before Chamberlain made a smart stop from Little at the far post.
Bleazard was agonisingly close to pulling a goal back 20 minutes from the end as her right-footed free kick was out of Byrne's reach but struck the crossbar.
Half time substitute Billson clearly made a difference and posed much more of a threat up front but Academy just could not get enough players into the box to support their hard-working wingers.
With just 10 minutes remaining, Scotland international Jennifer Beattie replaced goalscorer Fleeting and almost immediately made an impact.
Beattie showed her strength to flick on a Steph Houghton free kick to compatriot Little but her shot was well saved at point blank range by Chamberlain.
There were late chances for Arsenal to extend their lead when Little's cross was almost deflected in by Bristol's Rose and Dan Carter, like Beattie, almost made an instant impact when she chased down Chamberlain's kick but could only head wide.
WSR will have reaction from the post-match press conference later on so keep a look out or follow me on Twitter for news and reaction.
Arsenal Ladies: Emma Byrne, Steph Houghton, Gilly Flaherty, Ciara Grant, Jordan Nobbs, Ellen White, Julie Fleeting (Jennifer Beattie 80), Rachel Yankey (Danielle Carter 90), Kim Little, Katie Chapman, Niamh Fahey.
Bristol Academy: Siobhan Chamberlain, Corrine Yorston, Grace McCatty, Helen Bleazard, Katie Daley, Ann-Marie Heatherson (Michelle Green 84), Jess Fishlock (Lillie Billson 45), Loren Dykes, Anouk Hoogendijk, Alex Culvin (Molly Clark, Jemma Rose.
Courtois Straight Through to the Semis
– Pauline Courtois leads after first day