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Notts County 1 (Clarke 26) Arsenal 1 (Scott 54)
Notts County and Arsenal began their Women's Super League seasons with a 1-1 draw at Meadow Lane.
Jess Clarke put the home side ahead in the first half but the Gunners responded early on in the second half with a sublime strike from Alex Scott. The Gunners dominated from then on and twice hit the woodwork in the closing stages but County held on for a point.
After missing out on the WSL title for the first time last season, Arsenal started this campaign with questions lingering over their aspirations. But, as Kerr had rightly pointed out before the game, the Gunners had still won two domestic trophies in 2013 and lost just one league game.
The game marked Notts County's first in the league since they formed in place of Lincoln Ladies at the end of 2013. It always going to be difficult for Shelly Kerr's side to second guess their unfamiliar opponents but Rick Passmoor has a reputation of producing disciplined, hard working sides and tonight would prove no different.
Both teams had sights on goal during the opening exchanges. Danielle Carter shot wide before Clarke bent an effort marginally wide of the top corner. Emma Mitchell was forced to make a superbly timed tackle to deny Dunia Susi from shooting as the hosts started to crank up the pressure.
County took the lead on 26 minutes when Clarke's pace proved too much for the Arsenal defence and she slotted past Emma Byrne to score their first ever league goal.
Arsenal almost produced an immediate response when Kelly Smith blasted over from Yukari Kinga's path.
The Gunners were far brighter in the second half and went close to equaliser when Leah Williamson's header was saved by Carly Telford. But Kerr didn't have to wait much longer to see her side draw level.
In the 54th minute Shinobo Ohno weaved into a shooting position, her effort was blocked but the ball rebounded to Scott who hit a flashing volley past Telford.
The momentum was all with Arsenal now. Danielle Carter and Rachel Yankey had shots blocked before Smith sent a half volley over and substitute Freda Ayisi did likewise.
Arsenal continued to probe and were desperately unlucky not to go in front when Smith lifted an exquisite free kick over the wall and off the bar.
The probing became more of a pummelling in the final 10 minutes. In the 84th minute, Ayisi's shot rebounded to Scott who steered towards goal but the ball rebounded off the post and County eventually cleared.
Notts County: Carly Telford, Sophie Walton (sub Anna Green 10mins (sub Laura-Jane O'Neill 78mins), Sophie Bradley, Rachel Corsie, Amy Turner, Dunia Susi, Katie Hoyle, Desiree Scott, Katie Holtham, Jess Clarke, Courtney Sweetman-Kirk (sub Caitlin Friend 75mins). Subs not used: Jules Draycott, Ellie Clarke, Emily Roberts, Sophie Haywood.
Arsenal: Emma Byrne, Alex Scott, Casey Stoney, Leah Williamson, Emma Mitchell (sub Anouk Hoogendijk 74mins), Yukari Kinga, Shinobu Ohno, Christie Murray (sub Freda Ayisi 51mins), Kelly Smith, Rachel Yankey, Danielle Carter. Subs not used: Siobhan Chamberlain, Caroline Weir, Jade Bailey, Bianca Bragg.
(Report by www.fawsl.com)
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