Game-changing moments from Kim Little and Emma Byrne helped Arsenal Ladies to a 1-0 win over Everton and kept their title chances in their own hands on a cold and wet Thursday evening in Boreham Wood.
By David Brenchley
In a tight, tense contest Little's 20-yard second half strike was enough to send the Gunners top of the table with just one game to go but they had goalkeeper Byrne to thank for a superb point-blank save from Natasha Dowie.
Bottom-side Liverpool are now the only obstacle in the way of Arsenal winning the inaugural FA WSL title.
Both sides started the game brightly, with the two goalkeepers being tested early on; a Fara Williams free kick was parried out of harms way by Byrne before a pin-point Little ball set Danielle Carter free but Everton's Rachel Brown came out of her area and thwarted the winger.
The home crowd thought their side had broken the deadlock after quarter of an hour when Carter cut inside Rachel Unitt but her shot landed the wrong side of the near post.
Fern Whelan had the last chance of the first half when she got her head on the end of another Williams free kick but, again, the ball landed wide of the goal.
As they do, the Gunners came out purposefully in the second period and Katie Chapman headed a Little free kick just over the bar five minutes after the interval.
And they didn't have to wait for long until they were a goal to the good. Little picked the ball up, wriggled free of two Toffees defenders and unleashed a trademark long range effort past Brown and into the net on 54 minutes.
The home supporters were on the edge of their seats for the last half hour of the game and their nerves were done no good when they thought Dowie had equalised on 65 minutes.
A Williams corner was headed into the six yard area by the towering Jill Scott and Dowie instinctively poked the ball towards goal but Byrne somehow managed to get a strong hand to it and divert it away from goal.
The goalscorer should have eased the Gunners' worries with 15 minutes to go when she was played through by Julie Fleeting but she curled the ball over from 10 yards out.
The Merseysiders were determined to throw a spanner in the works and threw everything they had at the Arsenal defence but, in the end, they were good enough to hold out and move to within three points of yet another championship.
Women Sport Report will have all the reaction from goalscorer Kim Little, Arsenal manager Laura Harvey and Everton assistant manager Andy Spence.
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photo BG and Ant Beviss