2013 Women's FA Cup final report
Yesterday at the Keepmoat stadium in Doncaster Arsenal Ladies eased to a 3-0 win over Bristol Academy Women to claim their 12th Women's FA Cup, 39th major honour, and the 1st trophy of head coach Shelly Kerr's reign. Steph Houghton gave the Gunners the lead in the second minute and from then on Arsenal never looked back.
The big team news for Arsenal was that Racheal Yankey was fit enough to start the game after a period out on the sidelines, while for Bristol star striker Laura Del Rio only made the bench.
Arsenal team: Emma Byrne, Steph Houghton(c), Gilly Flaherty, Cirra Grant, Jordon Nobbs, Ellen White, Rachel Yankey, Gemma Davison, Jennifer Beattie, Kim Little, and Alex Scott
Subs: Rebecca Spencer, Yvonne Tracy, Danielle Carter, Jade Bailey, Lauren Bruton
Bristol team: Siobhan Chamberlain, Loren Dykes, Corinne Yorston(c), Jasmine Matthews, Natalia Pablos Sanchon, Alex Windell, Ann Marie Heatherson, Nikki Watts, Jemma Rose, Natasha Harding, and Lucy Staniforth.
Subs: Rebekha Kyle, Grace McCatty, Ellie Curson, Laura Del Rio, Angharad James.
As the sun shone down on the stadium it was Arsenal who got the final under way, and we didn't have wait long till the first goal arrived. On two minutes Rachel Yankey surged down the Arsenal left and sent in a deep cross to the back post which found Steph Houghton, who made no mistake with the header. Bristol didn't let their heads drop though, and had a fantastic chance to draw level on 4 minutes when Corinne Yorston's corner was missed by the Arsenal defence and Jemma Rose blasted over from 7 yards out.
The next real chance fell to Arsenal as a great ball from Yankey found Ellen White who was free in the area, but her effort was well tipped over by Chamberlain in the Bristol goal. Bristol had started the game at a good tempo; knocking the ball around well, but were struggling to really threaten the Arsenal goal. As the game wore on the Gunners started to take control and missed decent chances through White and Kim Little. On 37 minutes Bristol had a huge let off when Jordan Nobbs cut in from the right flank and fired a shot in across goal which beat Chamberlain, but hit the far post and dropped into the hands of the keeper. Only one minute of additional time was added as the referee called the first half to a close. It was a half time whistle that Bristol were happy to hear.
HT Arsenal 1-0 Bristol
Realising that things had to change in the second half, Bristol made a change at halftime with Alex Windell making way for Angharad James. They almost caught Arsenal out on 48 minutes when a Lucy Staniforth free kick was saved low to her right by Arsenal keeper Emma Byrne. Arsenal soon found their rhythm though, and were inches away from making it 2-0 when Yankey sent a free kick inches over. Bristol hearts were in their mouths moments later when Chamberlain failed to hold onto a ball on the deck, but Houghton was unable to take advantage and her effort flew over the bar. The game was held up on 59 minutes when Lucy Staniforth fell awkwardly and suffered what looked like a bad knee injury. After a lengthy delay and following treatment from both medical teams she was stretchered from the field in a leg brace. Grace McCatty was brought on in her place.
After creating the lion's share of the chances, Arsenal's domination was finally rewarded in the 71st minute. Gemma Davison broke free down the right and delivered a pinpoint cross to Jordan Nobbs who headed home. 2-0 with 20 minutes to go Bristol had to gamble. They brought on Laura Del Rio for Loren Dykes and switched to a 3-4-3 formation. It almost paid off for them as they were inches away from getting back in the game; Nikki Watts' left wing cross found Natalia Pablos Sanchon whose acrobatic over head kick just skimmed the top of the crossbar. With Bristol chasing the game, it meant more opportunities for Arsenal to counter attack and they missed good chances to seal the win when Ellen White dragged a shot wide on 77 minutes, and on 79 minutes when Jordan Hobbs broke free and ran half the length of the pitch, but Chamberlain again came to her side's rescue with another top draw save as she smothered the ball at Nobbs' feet. Arsenal had to wait till the 90th minute to get the third. Davison's cross in found Nobbs whose shot was saved, but the rebound fell to White who smashed home the rebound. After 6 minutes added time and another miss from White, the final whistle blew and Arsenal had won the 2013 Women's FA Cup.
Full Time Arsenal 3-0 Bristol Academy
Speaking in the after game press conference, Bristol manager Mark Sampson comfimed that Lucy Staniforth had indeed injured her knee, but praised her for coming back out to watch the rest of the game (on crutches) describing her as "One tough cookie", he didn't want to put a time frame on how long she would be out saying that the injury would be assessed in the week. He rued his side's "Shocking start", but praised his side's battling spirit say that "The character of the players was excellent" He spoke very highly of keeper Siobhan Chamberlain who he described as making "Big saves at big times for us".
Summing up the game, Mark reflected that they lacked that a "Little bit of quality in both boxes" and that cost them the game. Bristol's next game is a League game against Arsenal and with a slight smile on his face he said that "Knowing my lot they can't wait to get back at Arsenal now".
When Arsenal manager Shelly Kerr was asked what she thought of her team's performance she said her side was "Absolutely magnificent today" She was very happy that the side had got the early goal, as one of the traits of Arsenal's season to date has been the fact that they have struggled to get early goals. Although she never likes singling players out for praise, she described player of the match Jordan Nobbs as a "Class act" who is "Getting stronger and stronger all the time with each game". She stated that now was the time for the club to kick on in the League, and was already looking forward to Thursday's "Massive game".
The scorer of the first goal for Arsenal; Steph Houghton, reflected that since the 4-0 defeat to Liverpool the side have "Improved bit by bit", and she was quick to credit all the players and the coaching staff for the quality performance on the field today.