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Women's Football News
Arsenal 2 (Chapman 32, Little 90)
Sunderland 1 (McDougall 90)
att: 23,291; at Derby County F.C.
Arsenal lifted the F.A.Women's Cup for the fourth year in a row after breaking down the stubborn resistance of a brave Sunderland side who fought right until the final whistle and scored a deserved consolation for their efforts with virtually the last kick of the game.
The Gunners dominated the vast majority of the match with England star Katie Chapman giving a magnificent performance in midfield. Sunderland were unable to conjure up any serious attempts on goal until the dying minutes but the Northern Division side rightly given praise for their determination and resolution against their illustrious opponents.
Arsenal understandably settled down the quicker with Gemma Davison looking particularly lively and they carved out their first chance in the fourth minute as Kim Little released Suzanne Grant who slid her shot wide. A teasing Davison cross then just evaded the oncoming Little as she made a good run into the area.
Sunderland created their first half chance as Sophie Williams chased a long ball down the left and crossed but Niamh Fahey's challenge was enough to prevent Jordan Nobbs getting in a clean shot on goal.
Arsenal hit back with Little striking over from distance and Davison brought out a save from Helen Alderson after cutting in from the left. There was a huge scare for Sunderland as an angled shot from Suzanne Grant slid underneath Alderson but Lucy Bronze did well to prevent Rachel Yankey from slotting home with a last ditch clearance.
A sloppy pass almost led to Sunderland's undoing, Davison seized on it and robbed Vicki Greenwell and found Little whose shot was touched onto the post by Alderson. Arsenal won a free kick from the resulting corner; Yankey's cross was glanced wide by Jayne Ludlow.
Arsenal were starting to turn the screw and took the lead just after the half hour. Unsurprisingly, Davison was involved with a strike from 20 yards which Alderson - whose handling was otherwise faultless - failed to hold and Chapman followed up to score from the rebound.
There was a glorious chance for the Gunners to double their lead two minutes ahead of the break after a clever piece of play by Little, who tricked her way past Steph Bannon and slotted a good ball through to Suzanne Grant whose shot went wide of the far post. Ludlow was narrowly over with a dipping shot but Sunderland dug in to keep the deficit at one goal going into the break.
The pattern of the match continued at the start of the second half with Arsenal having the greater of the possession and territorial advantage with Chapman and Ludlow dictating matters in midfield, but the well organised Sunderland defence - Bronze in particular having a superb game at right back - stood strong.
Sadly the game came to an unscheduled halt just before the hour mark as Williams was stretchered from the field, following a long stoppage, after collapsing following a challenge on Chapman. The young winger was wearing an oxygen mask and was taken to hospital but the good news is that she was able to go home in the evening.
Still Arsenal pressed, Ludlow was inches away from connecting with a cross from Yankey and Ciara Grant dragged her shot wide after a corner had been half cleared. Helen Lander was put through on goal by Davison but the substitute was denied by Alderson, who made a fine block with her legs.
Alderson made further saves headers by from Ludlow and Chapman but the killer goal came in the second minute of injury time. Chapman chipped a good ball into the path of Little who got round Alderson before tucking the ball into the empty net.
Sunderland still would not give up with Demi Stokes firing a shot at Byrne and the Arsenal goalkeeper making an excellent save from Sarah Danby's chip. They finally got their reward as Stokes' ball in from the right picked out an unmarked McDougall who took one touch before burying the ball past Byrne. The whistle blew almost immediately afterwards to finish a fascinating encounter.
Arsenal: Emma Byrne, Laura Bassett (sub Faye White 90mins), Niamh Fahey, Jayne Ludlow, Gilly Flaherty, Katie Chapman, Ciara Grant, Kim Little, Suzanne Grant (sub Helen Lander 59mins), Gemma Davison (sub Natalie Ross 81mins), Rachel Yankey. Subs not used: Rebecca Spencer, Eartha Pond.
Sunderland: Helen Alderson, Lucy Bronze, Sophie Halliday, Jordan Nobbs, Steph Bannon, Vicki Greenwell, Lucy Staniforth, Kelly McDougall, Sophie Williams (sub Nicola Devine 62mins), Natalie Gutteridge (sub Sarah Danby 83mins), Demi Stokes. Subs not used: Rachael Laws, Steph O'Brien, Abbey Holmes.
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