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Women's Football News
Arsenal brought a strong squad to their friendly against Colchester United at Stanway on Thursday evening and entertained a large crowd with a 4-0 win against a determined and hard working home team.
The Gunners included Julie Fleeting, who played the whole match and Katie Chapman who came on for the injured Yvonne Tracy after 20 minutes. Colchester defended for much of the game but put in some good moves of their own, especially in the last quarter, forcing Emma Byrne and her defenders into action.
Arsenal started brightly and took the lead on nine minutes when Rachel Yankey centred and Kim Little steered the ball low into the corner. Colchester lost the ball in a dangerous position on 22 minutes and, though Nikita Runnacles saved well from Jordan Nobbs, Fleeting was on hand to finish. The home keeper then immediately made a fine save from another Fleeting effort.
Colchester's first corner on 27 minute led to a five player counter attack with Little denied by another good stop. Fleeting was sent in again by a superb Steph Houghton pass but was halted by a combination of Runnacles and skipper Hannah Porter, who was also outstanding for the home team.
Ciara Grant had a fine headed goal from a corner disallowed on 35 minutes and Yankey blazed over from a Niamh Fahey cut back as the Gunners, orchestrated by the excellent Little, created chance after chance.
Three changes at half time gave Gilly Flaherty, Gemma Davison and Lauren Bruton a chance for some match practice ahead of the forthcoming Champions League encounter with Rayo Vallecano.
Colchester were seen more as an attacking force as the game progressed, with Maegan Doyle and Helen Bass working well in attack. Arsenal continued to create chances, but their finishing was off target until Chapman lashed in a half cleared corner on 72 minutes. Sian Larkin gave away a penalty when she brought down Davison and Fleeting added the fourth three minutes later.
The home team gave the crowd some attacking moments to cheer as they sought a consolation, Byrne needing to take a couple of crosses and Grant having to impress with her calm defending in the final minutes.
Colchester came out with credit, having worked extremely hard all game to contain the Gunners and will hope to mount a challenge at the top of the Southern Division of the Premier League. Arsenal, with Nobbs, Fleeting, Chapman and Houghton either settling in or returning to action will have gained valuable match practice from this encounter.
(Report by Patrick Higgins)
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