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Arsenal 2 (Weir 99, Smith pen 117) Notts County 0 [after extra time]
Arsenal made it through to the final of the Continental Cup for the fourth year in a row as a spirited Notts County fell to a 2-0 defeat after extra time.
It was the travelling team that started the strongest, led by strong pressure from Katie Hoyle and Desiree Scott, County spent the majority of the first 15 minutes camped in the home team's half. It was Katie Holtham and Aileen Whelan causing problems three minutes in, both having strong crosses half cleared before Niamh Fahey eventually cleared their lines.
After the quarter of an hour mark, Continental Cup holders Arsenal started to see more of the ball in the away side's half, Danielle Carter firing over from close range. It was Carter who came close to opening the scoring with 18 minutes gone, controlling the ball on the far right before crossing deep into the area, the ball evading everyone and striking the post, Rachel Corsie reacting quickest to clear.
The Lady Pies reacted well, Jess Clarke rising highest to head Whelan's cross just past Emma Byrne's right hand post. Carly Telford did well to spring into action at the other end just before the half hour, getting two hands to Freda Ayisi's fierce drive to tip it over the bar.
With the last action of the first half, Arsenal struck the woodwork for the second time. Alex Scott broke clear on the right of the Notts box and crossed to Yankey at the back post, the England international controlling the ball before driving hard towards goal from six yards. Telford did fantastically to block the winger's goalbound effort, the rebound striking the post before Telford could dive on the loose ball.
Arsenal started the second half the brighter with Jordan Nobbs and Rachel Yankey both firing shots wide for the hosts. The home side didn't have it all their own way though, Aileen Whelan causing Casey Stoney issues at the back, the striker stealing the ball from the defender, but Walton couldn't meet her cross.
The half followed a very similar pattern throughout, County limiting Arsenal to very few chances, with a number of long shots firing high or wide.
The Gunners thought they had won it with ten minutes on the clock. Leah Williamson's close shot was well saved by Telford, before taking the rebound past the 'keeper and firing in, however the referee adjudged that Williamson had used her hand and ruling the goal out.
With two minutes to go, the away side could have won it. Jess Clarke beat Casey Stoney to a bouncing ball and pulled the ball back to Hoyle, the midfielder beating a defender and driving at goal but Byrne saved well.
That was the last chance of the 90 minutes and the game went to extra time. Nine minutes into the extra 30, Arsenal took the lead. Caroline Weir collected Kelly Smith's low ball and turned inside and out before firing high above Telford and into the net.
Despite their best efforts, the Lady Pies couldn't find an equaliser and Arsenal progressed through to the Continental Cup final after Carter was brought down and Kelly Smith dispatched the resulting spot kick.
Arsenal: Emma Byrne, Alex Scott, Emma Mitchell, Jade Bailey (sub Kelly Smith 72mins), Casey Stoney, Niamh Fahey, Freda Ayisi (sub Shinobu Ohno 60mins), Jordan Nobbs, Danielle Carter, Leah Williamson, Rachel Yankey (sub Caroline Weir 66mins). Subs not used: Siobhan Chamberlain, Yukari Kinga, Christie Murray, Carla Humphrey.
Notts County: Carly Telford, Sophie Walton, Amy Turner (sub Ashleigh Plumptre 91mins), Katie Hoyle (sub Caitlin Friend 106mins), Danielle Brogan, Rachel Corsie, Jess Clarke, Katie Holtham, Aileen Whelan, Rachel Unitt (sub Laura-Jane O'Neill 45mins), Desiree Scott. Subs not used: Jules Draycott, Katy Thornley, Emily Roberts.
(Report by www.fawsl.com)
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