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Chelsea 0 Arsenal 1 (Carter 29)
Arsenal narrowed the gap once again to two points on FA WSL leaders Liverpool following a hard fought 1-0 win over Chelsea at Wheatsheaf Park.
In front of the live BT Sport cameras, the Gunners were nowhere near their best on the night against an improving Chelsea side but a first half strike from Danielle Carter kept their title challenge firmly on course.
Although Chelsea had the first meaningful attempt on goal, a shot from Laura Coombs which was saved by Emma Byrne, Arsenal were pushing hard for an early strike and went close when Rachel Yankey drove an angled shot narrowly over the bar.
Yankey then slid a precision through ball into the path of Carter who was denied by a good last ditch tackle from Kylie Davies. The resulting corner, taken by Kim Little, was met by Steph Houghton whose firm header was tipped over the bar by Marie Hourihan.
Sofia Jakobsson had a shot saved at the other end but Arsenal continued to go forward and won a series of corner. Houghton almost put them in front but once again her header brought out another excellent save by Hourihan, under pressure from Carter. Houghton headed over from another corner but Arsenal's pressure told when they took the lead just before the half hour.
After her initial corner had been cleared, Little picked up the loose ball and her far post cross was laid off by Ellen White and into the path of Carter who steered her shot home from six yards.
White was unable to take an opportunity to double their lead when she fired wide after latching onto Gilly Flaherty's long pass. Good build up play involving Carter and White set up a chance for Houghton but her effort was off target.
There was a scare for Chelsea just before half time when Hourihan took one touch too many to make a clearance and Carter nipped in to tackle her, she laid the ball back to Yankey but Hourihan managed to recover and save the England winger's shot.
Chelsea came much more into the game in the second half but the better of the chances continued to go Arsenal's way. Nobbs volleyed over the bar from Yankey's cross and Little was also off target with an angled effort. Katie Chapman then released Nobbs down the right with a good pass, her cross picked out Carter whose shot was saved by Hourihan.
At the other end, White made a good challenge on Eniola Aluko in the area, the loose ball going to Yuki Ogimi whose curling shot was just over the bar. Moments later, Aluko was again denied by an excellent tackle, this time by Alex Scott, but Chelsea just could not fashion a clear cut chance against a well drilled Gunners defence.
Chapman headed over from a Yankey free kick and Nobbs put a good chance wide from substitute Gemma Davison's cross. Little then forced an excellent save from Hourihan, her powerful strike from outside the area being turned over the bar.
Nobbs could have wrapped it up in injury time following a good run and cross on the right by White but she was unable to control her shot at full stretch and it went harmlessly over the bar. Arsenal successfully ran down the clock from this point to close out another vital win.
Chelsea: Marie Hourihan, Danielle Buet, Sophie Fogarty (sub Katie Holtham 45mins), Drew Spence (sub Jodie Brett 54mins), Kylie Davies, Sophie Ingle, Yuki Ogimi, Ester Dos Santos, Eniola Aluko (sub Helen Ward 75mins), Laura Coombs, Sofia Jakobsson. Subs not used: Carly Telford, Helen Bleazard, Dunia Susi, Rosella Ayane.
Arsenal: Emma Byrne, Alex Scott, Emma Mitchell, Katie Chapman, Gilly Flaherty, Steph Houghton, Danielle Carter, Jordan Nobbs, Ellen White, Kim Little, Rachel Yankey (sub Gemma Davison 69mins). Subs not used: Cherie Rowlands, Yvonne Tracy, Ciara Grant, Caroline Weir, Freda Ayisi.
(top) Danielle Carter is denied by a tackle from Kylie Davies
(middle) Steph Houghton goes close with a first half header
(bottom) Ellen White gets in a shot, watched by Sophie Fogarty
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