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Arsenal 2 (Little 19, Fleeting 32) Bristol Academy 0
att: 13,885; at the Ricoh Arena
Arsenal lifted the F.A.Women's Cup for the fifth time in six years after two first half goals guided them on their way to a comfortable victory over Bristol Academy at the Ricoh Arena.
The Gunners never looked back after player of the match Kim Little gave them the lead with a fine individual goal and Julie Fleeting added the second in a one-sided first half. Academy, playing in their first major Cup Final, raised their game after the break despite losing midfielder Jessica Fishlock with a sickening head injury but were not able to seriously threaten Arsenal's lead.
The first chance of the game came Academy's way in the third minute, an inswinging corner was not dealt with by the Arsenal defence and Anouk Hoogendijk directed a stooping header wide of the goal.
Arsenal hit back with their first meaningful attack and Julie Fleeting hooked a shot over the bar but the Gunners gradually began to take over matters without really threatening Siobhan Chamberlain in the Academy goal.
However in the 19th minute, Arsenal's pressure paid off as they took the lead. Academy did not fully clear a Rachel Yankey cross and Little nipped in to dispossess Fishlock and beat two defenders before cutting the ball back on her right foot to plant a shot past Chamberlain.
Arsenal continued to press; Ellen White made a strong break down the right and made her way into the area but elected to pass rather than shoot and Yankey's effort was charged down. Fleeting then hit the bar after Alex Culvin was unable to deal with a long ball, the ball was returned into the area by Little for White whose header was superbly saved by a diving Chamberlain.
Respite was brief though, Niahm Fahey immediately crossed from the left and this time Fleeting made no mistake with a deft downward header which gave Chamberlain no chance.
With Katie Chapman commanding the midfield area, Jordan Nobbs impressing and Little at her brilliant best, Arsenal looked for more goals and Fleeting could well have made it three when she sent a free header over the bar after a short corner had caught Academy cold.
A rare effort on goal came for Academy came in injury time after Fishlock was on the receiving end of a clash of heads with Chapman. Helen Bleazard tried an ambitious long range effort from the resulting free kick but her shot drifted harmlessly over the bar.
Fishlock's injury, which had left her concussed, prevented her from continuing and the Welsh international playmaker had to be replaced at half time by Lillie Billson.
Yankey broke down the left for the first opportunity of the second half, her low cross found its way to Little whose shot was charged down at the far post.
Academy typically did not give up and began to enjoy more possession but without looking as though they were to likely to pierce the Arsenal defence, despite a hard working performance up front from Ann Marie Heatherson. Wingers Bleazard and Loren Dykes had caused problems when the sides met in the league nine days earlier but this time they found themselves shackled and were largely peripheral figures.
Bleazard did however produce Academy's best attempt on goal following a foul on Heatherson. She stepped up to take the free kick around 25 yards out and her effort struck the top of the bar.
The game started to drift as Arsenal seemed content to sit on their two-goal lead but they could have added another ten minutes from time. Instead Chamberlain kept her side in the game with a fine save, after Little had latched onto Jennifer Beattie's header before her volley was blocked by the keeper's legs.
Little continued to command matters and good play on the right by the Scottish midfielder saw her get past Katie Daley and her low cross was diverted inches past her own post by a stretching Jemma Rose.
In an attempt to try and get themselves back into the game, Academy pushed Grace McCarty - who had a fine game at full back - into the forward line but Ciara Grant and Gilly Flaherty were in good form in the centre of defence for the Gunners and kept things tight at the back.
Danielle Carter, on as a substitute moments earlier, charged down a Chamberlain clearance but could not convert a difficult chance by nodding the looping ball home. Houghton then forced a save from Chamberlain as Arsenal continued to finish the game strongly before their celebrations could finally begin.
Arsenal: Emma Byrne, Steph Houghton, Niamh Fahey, Katie Chapman, Gilly Flaherty, Ciara Grant, Kim Little, Jordan Nobbs, Ellen White, Julie Fleeting (sub Jennifer Beattie 79mins), Rachel Yankey (sub Danielle Carter 89mins). Subs not used: Yvonne Tracy, Rebecca Spencer, Laura Coombs.
Bristol Academy: Siobhan Chamberlain, Grace McCatty, Alex Culvin (sub Molly Clark 67mins), Corinne Yorston, Jemma Rose, Anouk Hoogendijk, Helen Bleazard, Katie Daley, Ann Marie Heatherson (sub Michelle Green 84mins), Jessica Fishlock (sub Lillie Billson 45mins), Loren Dykes. Subs not used: Alex Windell, Emma Jones.
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