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Arsenal completed a League and Cup double at Under-17 level with a 2-1 victory over Aston Villa in the FA Youth Girls Cup Final.
Both teams had won their respective leagues as well as reaching this final, but two Rianna Dean goals gave the Gunners the edge in a hard fought match, Lucy Shepherd's reply for Villa coming with virtually the last kick.
Anna Patten had the first shot on target, forcing Villa keeper Chloe Beattie into a good save low to her left. Mollie Rouse twice threatened the Arsenal goal, playing in a good cross ball then shooting just over. Arsenal were denied a penalty for a foul on Dean when play was brought back for offside on 23 minutes.
The opening goal came on 32 minutes, Dean firing a low shot into the bottom right corner after Lotte Wubben-Moy had started the move in her own half.
Georgia Allen floated over a teasing cross from the right but the ball drifted just wide of the Villa goal on 40 minutes.
Playing with the strong breeze, Villa started the second half well, Nicola Potts playing an inviting cross which was almost turned in on the far post. Rouse then had a good shot well held by Emma Kelly.
However, just when an equaliser looked on the cards, Arsenal doubled their lead when Dean chased down a back pass, rounded Beattie and finished calmly from a tight angle.
Charlie Devlin nearly set up a third for Dean with a fine run down the left on 51 minutes and the same pair combined again on 63 minutes, this time Dean's shot was well blocked. Villa had their moments of pressure from corners and set pieces but the Arsenal defence was very solid and always threatened on the break.
Finally, in the fifth minute of added time, Villa found a way through in a scramble from a corner, Shepherd getting the final touch. There was only time for the restart before Arsenal could celebrate their win, deserved on the day, and rounding off an outstanding season.
The match was a fine advert for Centre of Excellence football, played in front of an enthusiastic crowd in excess of 400 people.
Arsenal: Emma Kelly, Flo Fyfe, Jessica Driscoll, Lotte Wubben-Moy, Chiara Ritchie-Williams, Anna Patten, Laura Hooper, Charlie Devlin, Chloe Brunton-Wilde, Georgia Allen, Rianna Dean. Subs: Charley Beaumont, Tinaya Alexander, Rachel Woods, Holly Greenwood, Taylor Hinds.
Aston Villa: Chloe Beattie, Shannon Roche, Robyn Tallis, Zoe Clarke, Nicola Potts, Jenna Roberts, Grace Smith, Lucy Shepherd, Mollie Rouse, Kamariah Scott, Shania Hayles. Subs: Ellie Bruton, Dani Farey, Malikah Khan, Kathryn Pagan, Lucy Porter, Sian Wilson.
(Report by Patrick Higgins)
Photos by www.jamesprickett.co.uk:
(top) Grace Smith is challenged by Charlie Devlin
(middle) Chiara Ritchie-Williams takes on Kamariah Scott
(bottom) Arsenal celebrate with the trophy
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