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Arsenal Res 2 Sunderland Res 0
Arsenal Reserves, the FAWSL Development League Cup holders, will contest this season's Final after a 2-0 home win over Sunderland Reserves.
The Gunners booked their place with two second half goals against a Black Cats team which had created the majority of chances in the first half but were unable to find a way past Sian Rogers in the home goal. A more convincing second half saw Arsenal in control and this time it was visiting keeper Grace Donnelly's turn to shine. However, strikes from Anna Patten and Rianna Dean took Arsenal to a meeting with Bristol City in the Final.
Sunderland started well, Rogers having to be quick off her line to deny Bridget Galloway in an early attack. Chances came thick and fast at both ends, Donnelly tipping over a long range effort on 12 minutes. Sunderland always threatened from corners, twice getting in free headers, one of which was deflected on to the bar away to safety.
Rogers kept Arsenal level with two fine saves in quick succession, first from Galloway on 37 minutes then a flying leap to tip away a shot from Georgia Gibson after a super passing move had cut through the defence. Shannon Cooke was providing dangerous crosses from right back for Arsenal and Dean shot over from one inviting delivery on 41 minutes. However, right on the break, Sunderland's Bev Leon was through on goal only for Rogers to block her shot, as somehow a fine half of attacking intent remained scoreless.
Rogers made another telling contribution soon after the restart, turning away another Gibson shot at full stretch, but gradually the home side started to build the pressure. Jess Ngunga on the right wing was getting into good positions and testing the defence with pace and trickery. Dean went very close with a header from one cross from Ngunga, then Anna Filbey shot just wide on 57 minutes.
Donnelly made a good stop from a close range effort from Dean following a clever free kick routine on 61 minutes. The breakthrough came from a half cleared corner on 65 minutes which Patten drove home low from ten yards.
Ngunga provided the second with a run and cross which Dean controlled then finished on the turn on 70 minutes. Taylor Hinds then set up Dean but Donnelly showed excellent reactions to get down and hold the low shot. Donnelly also denied Ngunga at the near post after another tricky run and shot on 81 minutes as Arsenal dominated.
Hard as Sunderland tried, they were unable to find a way back into the tie and Arsenal were able to celebrate their third final in four years at the end of a very well contested and entertaining encounter.
Sian Rogers, Shannon Cooke, Chiara Ritchie-Williams, Kelani Peart, Taylor Hinds, Chloe Brunton-Wilde, Jess Ngunga, Laura Hooper, Rianna Dean, Anna Patten, Anna Filbey. Subs: Tinaya Alexander, Gabby Clark.
Grace Donnelly, Faye Mullen, Olivia Watt, Louise Griffiths, Mollie Lambert, Dominique Bruinenberg, Bev Leon, Georgia Gibson, Danielle Brown, Bridget Galloway, Poppy Pattinson. Subs: Sophy Stonehouse, Erika Warren, Beth Guy, Hattie Preston, Emily Ashby.
(Report by Patrick Higgins)
Photos by www.jamesprickett.co.uk:
(top) Sian Rogers makes a smothering save from Bridget Galloway
(middle) Bridget Galloway under pressure from Taylor Hinds
(bottom) Louise Griffiths with a firm challenge on Laura Hooper
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