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F.A.Women's Community Shield
Arsenal 4 (Grant pen 12, Ludlow 14,90, Sanderson 59)
Charlton Athletic 0
Att: 2,613; at the National Hockey Stadium, Milton Keynes
Arsenal fired an ominous warning to their National Division rivals that they are once again the team to beat, following a commanding four-goal victory over arch rivals Charlton Athletic at Milton Keynes. Jayne Ludlow, switched up front from her usual midfield role, inflicted a huge part of the damage with two of the goals and Lianne Sanderson enhanced her growing reputation with a fine display alongside her.
Each team fielded three Euro 2005 squad members with Arsenal giving a debut to new signing Rachel McArthur, and Charlton likewise to Sarah Woolliscroft and Gemma Ritchie but other players including strikers Julie Fleeting and Amanda Barr were unavailable for the Gunners and Addicks respectively.
In the opening five minutes, Charlton missed a golden chance to grab an early lead as the Arsenal defence were left static when defending an inswinging Gemma Ritchie corner, and Danielle Murphy ran in to head over from around five yards out. Ritchie fired a 20-yard shot over as Charlton continued their bright start.
Jayne Ludlow steered a header just wide from a Kirsty Pealling free kick as Arsenal carved out their first opportunity but the Gunners were to take the lead in the 12th minute. They were awarded a penalty when Rachel McArthur tumbled in the area under a challenge from Dominique Sinclair-Chambers and, although Ciara Grant's initial spot kick was saved by Pauline Cope, the Irish midfielder followed up to tuck home the rebound.
With Charlton still reeling from the setback, Arsenal struck again two minutes later. Lianne Sanderson's through ball was latched onto by Ludlow who outpaced Sarah Woolliscroft before sliding the ball past Cope from 25 yards for the second goal.
Arsenal were looking dangerous every time they attacked at this point, and Ludlow could have made it three when she was found by a fine pass from Pealling and held off Sarah Woolliscroft before firing wide of the far post.
Charlton tried to hit back with Eniola Aluko shooting over from Katie Chapman's pass but Sanderson was looking sharp at the other end and another good run ended with her releasing Pealling on the right and her shot was well blocked by Cope. Ludlow then sent a free header over the bar from the resulting corner.
Emma Byrne needed to save a Chapman header as she rose to meet a Ritchie corner and Charlton almost made the breakthrough they craved four minutes from half time, a foul on Ritchie resulting in a 20-yard free kick, from which Stoney's curling shot was turned over the bar by Byrne.
Ludlow turned a shot straight at Cope following some good work from Gemma Davison and Sanderson shortly before the interval as Arsenal went into the interval with a comfortable lead.
Charlton manager Keith Boanas made a triple substitution at half time to try and pep up his side but it could not prevent Arsenal from taking a three goal lead, the Charlton defence being unable to clear a McArthur corner and Sanderson bundled the ball home, Karen Hills tried to prevent the ball from crossing the line but was unable to do so.
Ritchie tested Byrne with a shot after a neat turn on the edge of the area and Chapman poked the ball just wide after latching onto Maria Bertelli's lay off as Charlton tried to salvage something but Arsenal still looked sharp going forward, McArthur shooting over after more good work from Sanderson.
Byrne made another good save from a firm Chapman header and the tireless England midfielder was again denied by a diving stop as Charlton continued to look dangerous from set pieces.
Sanderson continued to impress and a good run and pass let in Davison who brought out a good save from Ebony Cabey-Gooden but the Charlton substitute goalkeeper could do nothing moments later as Ludlow chased a long ball over the Charlton defence before producing an emphatic finish, spectacularly volleying home to round off a great night's work by Arsenal.
Arsenal: Emma Byrne, Kirsty Pealling, Yvonne Tracy, Jayne Ludlow, Leanne Champ, Faye White, Mary Phillip, Ciara Grant, Lianne Sanderson, Rachel McArthur, Anita Asante. Subs: Gemma Davison (for Pealling 31 mins), Kelly Smith, Lauren Wells. Cori Daniels, Lisa Burrows.
Charlton: Pauline Cope, Casey Stoney, Dominique Sinclair-Chambers, Sarah Woolliscroft, Karen Hills, Katie Chapman, Danielle Murphy, Alexa Hunn, Eniola Aluko, Sian Williams, Gemma Ritchie. Subs: Emma Coss (for Woolliscroft 45 mins), Ebony Cabey-Gooden (for Cope 45 mins), Maria Bertelli (for Williams 45 mins), Carmaine Walker, Kimberley Dixson.
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