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Women's Football News
Bristol Academy 2 (Natalia 47, Yorston pen 79)
Arsenal 3 (Houghton 31, Little 41, Flaherty 52)
Arsenal picked up their first victory of the season in the FA WSL but they were made to work hard late on in an eventful match at Stoke Gifford.
It was the third time the teams had met in twelve days in three competitions and Bristol Academy were dealt a blow before kick off when Laura Del Rio pulled out through injury and Nikki Watts was drafted into the starting line up.
Arsenal were quickly into their stride and Siobhan Chamberlain was soon called into action, making a fine save when backpedalling to reach a dipping shot from Ellen White. Gemma Davison then made a good burst down the left and cut the ball back for Jordan Nobbs who was also denied by Chamberlain, the keeper blocking with her legs before the ball was scrambled away.
Academy produced their first effort on goal, a shot by Natalia which was saved by Emma Byrne, but Arsenal continued to dominate matters and Steph Houghton got the ball in the net but the goal was ruled out by an offside flag.
Ellie Curson almost broke through at the other end before the danger was averted by Gilly Flaherty but Arsenal's pressure eventually told and just after the half hour mark, they went ahead as Kim Little drove forward from midfield and slid a neat pass into the path of Houghton who buried her shot beyond Chamberlain and into the far corner.
It was almost two a minute later, Davison sped down the right and sent in a dangerous low cross but Rachel Yankey could only scoop the ball over the bar at full stretch.
Arsenal did not have to wait too long for the second though, Davison was again heavily involved as she cut in from the left and threaded the ball into the path of Little who gave Chamberlain no chance with a clinical left foot finish.
To add to Academy's woes, they lost Loren Dykes to add to their growing injury list but as the second half began, they sought an early way back into the game.
Jemma Rose was just off target with a free kick but a minute later, they were back in the game when Natalia found space on the edge of the area and drove in a shot which went through the hands and legs of Byrne to halve the deficit.
Arsenal made a quick response though and after Davison's angled drive had been touched over by Chamberlain, the resulting corner from Yankey was met by Flaherty whose looping header found the corner of the net for her first goal in more than two years.
Arsenal began to control matters again but once more found Chamberlain in magnificent form which was keeping her side in the match. First the England keeper made a brave smothering save from White after she had been set up by Little and Nobbs, then White was once again foiled as she slid in to meet an inswinging cross from Yankey but Chamberlain made a brilliant reaction stop to her left.
A great passing move then saw Little put White through on goal but as she made her way into the area she was bundled over from behind by Grace McCatty. The defender was red carded and a penalty was awarded, Little stepped up but Chamberlain once again came to her side's rescue with another fine save.
Then came an extraordinary incident which brought Academy back into the game. Ann Marie Heatherson made a good run in from the left and found Watts whose deflected shot came back off the bar and Byrne smothered the rebound from Natasha Harding, resulting in the Academy midfielder needing treatment. Alex Scott threw the ball out of play and after Harding had been treated the referee, after speaking to his assistant, awarded a penalty. Corinne Yorston confidently found the corner from the spot to give her side a chance of getting something out of the game.
Arsenal almost sealed the game as a low Yankey cross just evaded White at the far post but Academy threw players forward as the game entered the dying minutes. Natalia was halted by a superb tackle from Flaherty and White twice made vital clearing headers and Arsenal needed to hold out during a scramble in the area deep into injury time before they could finally claim the points.
Academy therefore lose the leadership to Liverpool on goal difference and they now lie second whilst Arsenal are five points behind the top two, with a game in hand.
Bristol Academy: Siobhan Chamberlain, Loren Dykes (sub Ann Marie Heatherson 42mins), Corinne Yorston, Jaz Matthews, Grace McCatty, Jemma Rose, Natasha Harding, Angharad James, Natalia Pablos Sanchon, Nikki Watts, Ellie Curson. Subs not used: Alex Windell, Ellie Leek, Lauren Haynes.
Arsenal: Emma Byrne, Alex Scott, Jennifer Beattie, Steph Houghton, Gilly Flaherty, Ciara Grant, Gemma Davison, Jordan Nobbs, Ellen White, Kim Little, Rachel Yankey. Subs not used: Yvonne Tracy, Rebecca Spencer, Danielle Carter, Jade Bailey, Lauren Bruton, Bianca Bragg.
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