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Women's Football News
Arsenal 3 (Nobbs 14, Little pen 58, Beattie 81)
Arsenal gained a measure of revenge for their FA Women's Cup semi final exit at the hands of Chelsea with a convincing 3-0 win in the final round of Continental Cup group stage games.
Whilst Chelsea might well dispute two of the goals, there was no doubt that they were very much second best on the day. Arsenal clinched a semi final place at Chelsea's expense and will travel to Bristol Academy in early September.
Jordan Nobbs gave a sparkling first half display, grabbing a fine opening goal on 14 minutes after a quick interchange of passes gave her a sight of goal. A super right foot finish beyond Carly Telford from 20 yards seemed to give the midfielder confidence to shoot on sight. On 21 minutes, Telford saved well and moments later another goalbound effort was deflected wide.
Chelsea had offered little in attack until Helen Bleazard set up Danielle Buet for a shot which was blocked then had a long range effort comfortably held by Byrne on 40 minutes.
Arsenal went very close to doubling their lead at the end of the half, Kim Little rounded Telford and crossed for Danielle Carter, whose close range effort was scrambled off the line.
Chelsea will have been glad to be only one down at the break but had a good chance to equalise on 49 minutes when Helen Lander robbed Gunners skipper Gilly Flaherty, but the Blues striker rolled her finish just wide of the far post.
Drew Spence, a first half substitute for the injured Laura Coombs, was penalised when the ball struck her arm from a pass in the area just before the hour and Kim Little struck the resulting penalty low past Telford's right hand.
By now Arsenal were creating chances regularly, Telford saving well from Davison, Nobbs juggling past three defenders before being crowded out, Little driving into the side netting from close range and Carter being denied by another Telford save.
The welcome return from injury of Ellen White gave the attack further impetus and she nearly converted a Little run and cross with an acrobatic effort which was blocked.
Jennifer Beattie, in at left back for the injured Niamh Fahey, was the star of the final minutes. The Scottish international twice escaped her marker at corners to power in headers. The first brought an excellent tip over from Telford and the second was apparently cleared acrobatically off the line by Buet only for the assistant to flag that the ball had crossed the line on 81 minutes.
Bianca Bragg was given a brief outing at the end and the presence of Kelly Smith and Jayne Ludlow amongst the unused substitutes was an indicator that, despite a recent poor run of results, Arsenal remain the team to beat.
Chelsea completed a disappointing run of results over the last two weeks and failed to build on the spirited displays in the previous two matches. Next up for the Gunners are Birmingham City in the FA WSL in two weeks time, the one team whose squad depth and current form look capable of challenging the Gunners.
Arsenal: Emma Byrne, Alex Scott, Steph Houghton, Ciara Grant, Gilly Flaherty, Jennifer Beattie, Jordan Nobbs, Kim Little, Rachel Yankey, Gemma Davison, Danielle Carter. Subs: Sophie Harris, Yvonne Tracy, Jayne Ludlow, Kelly Smith, Hayley Ladd, Bianca Bragg, Ellen White.
Chelsea: Carly Telford, Lara Fay, Gemma Bonner, Katie Sherwood, Danielle Buet, Helen Lander, Claire Rafferty, Helen Bleazard, Sophie Ingle, Dunia Susi, Laura Coombs. Subs: Sarah Quantrill, Sophie Perry, Drew Spence, Ashlee Hincks, Kate Longhurst, Victoria Williams, Sophie Gwilliam.
(Report by Patrick Higgins)
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