Charlton Athletic 0-3 Arsenal
The FA Nationwide Premier League Cup
12.15pm, Sunday 6 March 2005
Griffin Park, Brentford FC
England captain Faye White bagged a brace as Arsenal ran up a second successive Cup Final victory over Charlton to lift The Premier League Cup for the eighth time in 14 seasons.
Scotland striker Julie Fleeting, who hit a hat-trick in Arsenal’s 3-0 win against the Addicks in last season’s FA Women's Cup Final, opened the scoring and central defender White wrapped up victory with two second-half strikes.
Charlton, who went into the match as Premier League Cup holders, had several first-half chances but failed to capitalise and in the end might have suffered an even heavier defeat.
Match-winner White said: "We weren’t pleased with the way we played in the first half, but our second goal just after half-time settled us and in the end it was a very good win."
Arsenal manager Vic Akers added: "We weren’t competing as we should have been in the first half, but we talked about it at half-time and changed things around a bit and we looked much better in the second half.
"We did come under some pressure from Charlton, but when the chips are down, that’s the time to turn things around and that’s what my players are capable of doing.
"I’m delighted to win The League Cup again – it’s very special for us and we’ve got a proud record in the competition."
Akers’ opposite number Keith Boanas, after seeing his team’s hold on the trophy ended, said: "The game plan was to get at them early and for the first 20 minutes it looked like it was going to work.
"At half-time we thought we could get back into it, but the second goal deflated us and it was always difficult after that."
The Final’s first goal, which arrived in the 24th minute, came from the first on-target attempt of the match - though two minutes earlier Charlton had gone desperately close to taking the lead.
Striker Eni Aluko chased a long through-ball from right-back Casey Stoney but, as goalkeeper Emma Byrne raced off her line, Aluko sent her shot against the 'keeper and the ball slid agonisingly past the near post.
When play switched to the other end Fleeting produced the most clinical of finishes, the striker rising to powerfully head home wing back Kirsty Pealling’s inch-perfect cross.
The goal stunned Charlton, who had enjoyed the better of the early exchanges, but they hit back in determined fashion and three times in as many minutes might have equalised.
When right winger Dani Murphy curled in a 34th-minute free-kick, striker Carmaine Walker produced an accurate header but Byrne was equal to it, diving to pull off a brilliant one-handed save.
The 'keeper then had to keep out a 20-yard effort from Aluko before Murphy, from a good cross by left winger Jo Broadhurst, headed just wide.
Charlton’s pre-interval pressure proved in vain when, three minutes after the break, White met Pealling’s corner to increase Arsenal’s lead with a close range shot through a ruck of defenders.
The Gunners might have gone further ahead in the 56th minute, but following good work along the right flank by Fleeting, midfielder Jayne Ludlow shot well wide from just inside the penalty area.
When they did increase their lead it was with the goal of the game, White smashing a tremendous 30-yard drive into the roof of the net to effectively kill off the Addicks.
"What a goal that was!" exclaimed Akers, and White revealed: "As I was on the ball the space opened up in front of me and I just hit it. Pauline Cope’s a big goalkeeper, but the ball just flew into the top corner."
After White’s super strike Arsenal were able to coast through the closing stages, but they should have grabbed further goals.
Fleeting was unlucky with a delicate 82nd-minute chip which came back off the bar, but openings then created by the outstanding striker were squandered by Ludlow in the 84th minute and striker Angela Banks as play went into stoppage time.
Cope; Stoney, Coss, Hills, Reidy; Murphy, Chapman, Williams (Smith 63), Broadhurst (Clarke 76); Aluko (Heatherson 50), Walker
Substitutes: Hunn, Cabey-Gooden
Byrne; White, Phillip; Champ; Pealling (Tracey 86), Ludlow, Grant, Wheatley (McBride 86); Sanderson (Asante 71); Fleeting, Banks
Substitutes: Lorton, Hearn
Goals Fleeting, 24, White, 48, 69