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Arsenal Res 1 (Clarke 90) Liverpool Res 0
Arsenal Reserves completed a League and Cup double with a 1-0 victory over Liverpool Reserves at Sutton Coldfield Town FC.
In addition to the Southern Division title in the FAWSL Development League, the Gunners lifted the League Cup with a 90th minute goal from Evie Clarke after a very even match where both sides had good chances late on to settle the issue.
Liverpool started the sharper team and Beth Donoghue went close with a shot from distance on eight minutes. Bianca Bragg tested Liverpool keeper Gemma Jackson from distance but clear chances were rare as defences dominated. Chloe Morgan did well to hold an Ashley Hodson inswinging corner and Arsenal's Carla Humphrey had a good run and shot late in the half but, despite a good tempo and some neat passing moves, the teams had largely cancelled each other out at the break.
Arsenal restarted much the better and had a series of chances. Clarke had a run and shot straight from the kick off and went on in the same manner. A cross shot went inches wide then Jackson got down very well to hold another close range effort. Megan Ryan was inches over from a powerful header from a right wing corner and Humphrey had a great chance but was wide when clean through on 67 minutes.
Having been anonymous for the first 25 minutes of the second half, Liverpool burst into attacking action. A defensive slip let in Hodson and only a fine Morgan save denied her. The same player went even closer a minute later as a shot hit the inside of the post and flew back across goal on 70 minutes. Humphrey also hit the woodwork at the other end, this time the crossbar preventing the opening goal.
Arsenal were grateful, to keeper Morgan for a good reaction save to hold a close range header from a corner and then a timely clearance off the line to clear Ellie Stewart's headed effort from another set piece. The match was by now end to end as both sides sought a late clincher. Donoghue went close for Liverpool after a clever run into the area but it was Clarke who was to settle the outcome in dramatic fashion.
Running clear on the right, the Arsenal striker fired in a powerful shot which Jackson did well to turn away for a corner. The delivery was perfect for Vyan Sampson to head powerfully goalwards. A clearance off the line fell perfectly for Clarke to drive high into the net from five yards. Liverpool protests that the ball had struck an Arsenal hand on its way to the scorer were waved away and the Gunners were soon able to celebrate a League Cup win to go with their League title after a very good showcase for the young talent at both clubs.
Arsenal Reserves: Chloe Morgan, Leighanne Robe, Phillippa Cowley, Vyan Sampson, Megan Ryan, Fran Steele, Carla Humphrey, Taome Oliver, Alysha Stokjo-Down, Bianca Bragg, Evie Clarke Subs: Adekete Fatuga, Chelsea Coles, Abi Mills, Asia Harbour-Brown, Alice Hassall.
Liverpool Reserves: Gemma Jackson, Ellie Stewart, Sophia Riccio, Emilie Revitt, Olivia Wild, Megan Alexander, Vicky Rumsey, Grace Vella, Claudia Walker, Ashley Hodson, Beth Donoghue. Subs: Leah Fish, Hannah Dale, Shannon Beckwith, Eve Kennerley, Yasmine Swarbrick.
(Report by Patrick Higgins)
Photos by www.jamesprickett.co.uk:
(top) Claudia Walker battles with Megan Ryan
(middle) Phillippa Cowley jumps for a header with Olivia Wild
(bottom) The Arsenal team are all smiles with the trophy
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