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Arsenal Res 2 Watford Res 0
Arsenal Reserves won the Hertfordshire FA Cup at the first time of asking, beating Watford Reserves 2-0 in the Final at County Headquarters in Letchworth.
The reigning F A Premier Reserve League Champions face a battle to retain their title and lost out in the Premier League Reserve Cup quarter finals but overcame the current Herts Cup holders and eight time winners Watford with a goal in each half. Such was the dogged resistance of Watford, it took two moves of outstanding quality to find a way past the Golden Girls and they remained in the match right to the end, despite rarely troubling Elizabeth Stanley in the Gunners goal.
Emily Thomson set up the first chance with a through ball but Line Johansen was out quckly to deny Kelly Blanchflower. Lauren Bruton twice tested Johansen with shots from distance, but the Danish keeper handled them well. In the 18th minute Watford had their best chance of the half as Jo Wilson broke clear of the last defender, but Stanley was down well to save.
The same player later went close with a free kick but Arsenal had the majority of possession and moved the ball around well. A delightfully weighted pass by Brooke Nunn released Thomson, whose powerful near post effort was well held by Johansen.
The Gunners took the lead on 32 minutes when Thomson's crossfield pass from the right was cleverly backheeled by Blanchflower into the path of Nunn, who evaded the onrushing Johansen and slotted home the opener. The scorer nearly added a second right on half time with a drive from a tight angle after wriggling free on the left.
After the break, the pattern remained similar. Watford looked for early passes to release their forwards but were restricted by an excellent back four to taking mainly long range shots. Arsenal created a number of dangerous situations but were denied clear openings by equally sound defending.
It took a lovely chipped pass by Lois Roche to put Bruton clear on 57 minutes and she coolly lobbed Johansen to double the lead and put the Gunners in a commanding position.
Birthday girl Sahara Osborne-Ricketts tried to revive Watford with a 30-yard free kick which went close. Arsenal's Thomson again made good progress on the right flank before crossing for Nunn, who shot over the bar on 62 minutes.
Watford never stopped trying to find gaps in the Gunners defence and Wilson, their chief threat, fired a shot across goal on 80 minutes but no one was able to turn it in. Stanley saved well from a long range Kate Natkeil effort but Arsenal were pretty much in control and saw out the game for their first silverware of the season.
Both goalscorers, Nunn and Bruton, were unused substitutes for the first team's Champions League match against Linkoping and Arsenal have a busy time ahead with the return leg in Sweden and the London FA Cup Final against Millwall Lionesses before the end of March.
Arsenal Res: Elizabeth Stanley, Alex Hindwood, Billie Murphy, Hannah Short, Meagan Sargeant, Becky Anderson, Lois Roche, Emily Thomson, Kelly Blanchflower, Brooke Nunn, Lauren Bruton. Subs: Bianca Bragg, Angharad James, Taylor O'Leary, Lucy Gunton-Jones, Tricia Gould.
Watford Res: Line Johansen, Georgia Mays, Megan Jones, Chloe Gunn, Sahara Osborne-Ricketts, Leanne Jones, Kate Natkeil, Louise McCay, Jade Ryan, Paige Logie, Jo Wilson. Subs: Josie Green, Sophie Waller, Zemeka Clarke, Chloe Brown, Cora Kinsella.
(Report by Patrick Higgins)
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