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Shelley Kerr savoured her first trophy as manager of Arsenal, and the club's 39th overall, and paid a glowing tribute to her players following their 3-0 victory over Bristol Academy in the F.A.Women's Cup Final.
The Gunners gave a fine display in beating the FA WSL leaders and Shelley said afterwards: "I thought the girls were absolutely magnificent today. In terms of winning the 39th trophy, I think it's so important for this Club to continue winning together. I'm extremely delighted for all the girls and everyone connected with the Club.
Arsenal took control of the game after Steph Houghton scored inside the first 90 seconds of play. "That was in our game plan," Shelley revealed. "Since we've started this season, we've struggled to get an early goal so I thought it was a big turning point getting one today. It made us settle as a team and I thought we were really calm and composed on the ball.
"You have to give them [Bristol Academy] credit. They've had a really good start to the season and, even though we were dominant and thoroughly deserved to win, at times they caused us some problems. All the teams are catching up and that makes it competitive."
Shelley also reserved praise for player of the match Jordan Nobbs, who scored her side's second goal. "I think she's a class act. I never like singling out individuals but she's getting stronger and stronger all the time. I saw Jordan play when she was about 14 or 15 years old and she's just grown and developed ever since. I think the future is bright for her. For a young player, she's very intelligent as a footballer."
The success came less than three weeks after Arsenal's 4-0 defeat to Liverpool which once again set off talk that they are not the force they once were. "I think that it's easy to misinterpret that," replied Shelley. "Anyone that was at the game would have seen that there wasn't four goals in the game, it was ten minutes of madness on our part. This was our 13th game this year and 11 of those games were cup ties. We've only played two league games and already people were writing us off.
"I think you have to accept that when you're at a club with the stature that Arsenal have. People have expectations within the club, we know that and we just have to concentrate on what we do well and that's to play football.
"We really want to kick on in the league. That's a big one for us. The cups are a bonus and this is a fantastic start for us but we really want to start to do well in the league. I'm already switching on to Thursday [against Bristol Academy] now because I think it's a massive game for the club. As a coach, you can never really enjoy a win, or only for a couple of minutes."
"We really wanted to win the FA Cup and it was really disappointing to get knocked out in the semi finals last year," added Gunners captain Steph Houghton. "To come here today and put on the performance that we have done is a credit to all the girls and the coaching staff.
"The pitch was quite hard and a bit sandy. We knew we might have to take an extra touch but we still managed to play the football that we did and that just shows how much talent we've got in the squad and how much trust we've got in each other's abilities to keep playing football and keep playing the right way."
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