The FA Women's Premier League Cup
Fulham lift Premier League Cup
Fulham Ladies 1-1 Arsenal Ladies (Fulham won 3-2 on penalties)
The FA Nationwide Women's Premier League Cup
Sunday 30 March 2003
County Ground, Swindon Town FC
A dramatic penalty shoot-out secured victory for FA Nationwide Premier League Cup holders Fulham in this fiercely-competitive encounter against London rivals Arsenal in front of more than 2,000 fans at the County Ground on Sunday afternoon.
In a repeat of this season's FA Community Shield victory in August, Fulham once again beat their closest rivals from the spot. Kim Jerray-Silver eventually decided the match from the spot after Arsenal had four penalty kicks saved by Norway international Astrid Johannessen.
The match went to extra-time after a dramatic 90th-minute equaliser by Arsenal's Republic of Ireland international Ciara Grant, two minutes after former Gunner Rachel Yankey looked to have sealed the game for the professionals when she steered the ball past goalkeeper Emma Byrne in the 88th minute.
Extra-time yielded chances for both sides, with Fulham's Margunn Haugenes and Jayne Ludlow of Arsenal both coming close, but in the end penalty misses by four Arsenal players proved crucial. The professionals won the cup last season with an emphatic 7-1 victory over Birmingham, but were never going to find this match as easy.
Arsenal were determined to make amends for last Sunday's FA Women's Cup Semi-Final loss to Charlton, the only team to have taken points from the professionals this season, and gave Fulham a fight.
Fulham had a string of chances to clinch the match and should have sealed the tie as early as the fifth minute when Sanchia Duncan fired in a wicked side-foot volley but the shot hit the post. Fulham could have gone into the break ahead when defender Rachel Unitt swept a delightful cross into the box but Una Nwajei's diving header went wide.
The professionals continued to press at the restart and looked to have finally broken the Arsenal defence on 55 minutes when Rachel McArthur collected Haugenes' pass on the edge of the box. McArthur only had Byrne to beat but the goalkeeper bravely smothered her shot.
It took until the 80th minute for Arsenal to really test Fulham, with Angela Banks finding Ludlow in the box but the captain's shot was saved by Johannessen.
Yankey finally got the better of Byrne two minutes from time and the match looked over. But the Gunners were not finished and Grant coolly slotted home to force extra-time.
Arsenal looked to have kept their nerve in the penalty shoot-out with Angela Banks and Clare Wheatley both scoring from the spot but three more misses and a goal by Rachel McArthur kept Fulham's dreams alive and when Ellen Maggs saw her shot saved, Jerray-Silver slotted home to retain The Cup.