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Everton 0 Arsenal 1 (S.Grant 13)
Arsenal are Premier League Champions for the sixth season in a row after narrowly getting the better of Everton in a tense, nervous affair in front of 2,135 at the Stobart Stadium in Widnes.
Arsenal went into the match needing nothing less than a win to deny Everton their first title in ten years and inflict a first league defeat on the Toffees since 2007. A 13th minute goal from Scottish striker Suzanne Grant separated the sides on the day but the Gunners needed to withstand heavy second half pressure with Ciara Grant and teenager Gilly Flaherty having outstanding matches in the centre of defence.
Everton made a good start to the game and went close to taking a fourth minute lead as a Fara Williams corner was met by a powerful header from Jill Scott but Emma Byrne got down well to her left to save.
However after Everton's bright opening, it was Arsenal who made the breakthrough with their first meaningful attack of the game. Although Suzanne Grant appeared to head the ball wide from Little's corner, another one was awarded by the referee and this time, Rachel Brown did not deal with the resulting cross and the ball fell for Suzanne Grant to fire home from six yards.
Gemma Davison did well to work herself an opening but her deflected effort went straight at Brown, who also needed to save a shot from Rachel Yankey. Back came Everton to win a corner down the left, the ball did break for Toni Duggan but her shot was charged down by Davison who had reacted quickly to avert the danger.
Another chance came Everton's way as Jody Handley played in Scott; Byrne came off her line and timed her save to perfection. Scott drilled a shot narrowly past the post after good set up play by Natasha Dowie as the home side finished the first half on top but unable to penetrate the Arsenal rearguard.
Everton picked up the early pace at the start of the second half but found the Arsenal defence standing strong and efforts on goal were restricted, going closest with a Williams free kick which sailed over the bar.
Dowie was inches away with a header from a Handley corner but Everton were dealt a blow as their leading scorer left the field on a stretcher, shortly after a collision with Byrne, to be replaced by Emily Westwood.
Everton continued to pile forward but just could not create the clear cut chance they craved with Arsenal refusing to budge, the back four keeping things tight with Chapman and Ludlow biting into tackles in the midfield area.
As the tension - which could be felt in the stands - continued to grow, Arsenal began to find space for some breakaways with Everton committed forward. A goalbound Little shot was charged down and substitute Helen Lander miscued a left foot shot with only Brown to beat.
Everton desperately threw everything at Arsenal but, superbly marshalled by Ciara Grant, every cross and long throw was headed clear and Byrne's handling was faultless under pressure. The final whistle signalled joy and relief for Arsenal, the Everton players sank to the turf with despair as two embattled sides had given everything to their cause.
Everton: Rachel Brown, Becky Easton, Rachel Unitt, Fara Williams, Fern Whelan, Lindsay Johnson, Jody Handley, Jill Scott, Natasha Dowie (sub Emily Westwood 76mins), Michelle Hinnigan, Toni Duggan. Subs: Michelle Evans, Karen Boyle, Alex Culvin, Leanne Duffy.
Arsenal: Emma Byrne, Laura Bassett, Niamh Fahey, Jayne Ludlow, Gilly Flaherty, Katie Chapman, Ciara Grant, Kim Little, Suzanne Grant (sub Eartha Pond 90mins), Gemma Davison (sub Helen Lander 59mins), Rachel Yankey. Subs: Faye White, Rebecca Spencer, Natalie Ross.
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