Arsenal 1-0 Birmingham City
The FA WSL Continental Cup
7pm, Wednesday 10 October 2012
Underhill, Barnet FC
Live on ESPN
A late goal from Kim Little allowed Arsenal Ladies to secure a second successive FA WSL League and Cup double.
The Scottish midfielder struck a sweet effort in the 82nd minute to beat Birmingham City Ladies in the Continental Cup Final at Underhill.
The Gunners were deserved winners, having dominated the game for large spells and they twice hit the woodwork before Little beat Rebecca Spencer with her 20-yard curler.
That goal saw Laura Harvey’s side retain the trophy they won 12 months ago, again at Birmingham’s expense, and they will be hoping to add to their haul of silverware with the addition of the UEFA Women’s Champions League trophy later in the season.
With the considerable slope of the Underhill pitch in their favour, Arsenal saw more of the ball in the first half but it was FA Women's Cup holders Birmingham who threatened first.
Rachel Williams slipped a through ball into the area which Eniola Aluko collected in her stride, although she dragged her right-footed effort wide of the far post.
Arsenal responded with a Little effort which flashed wide of the target and Alex Scott should have done better than prod a weak effort straight at Spencer when she was played in by Kelly Smith.
Steph Houghton then saw a presentable close range shot blocked by Kerys Harrop and Spencer got lucky when she let a second shot from Houghton slip through her fingers and she gratefully watched it go behind for a corner.
The Gunners upped the pressure as Ellen White called Spencer into action once more just after the half hour mark. They were, though, only able to create half chances at best with David Parker’s charges defending admirably against the slope.
When Arsenal did eventually breach the Blues’ rearguard the woodwork intervened as Smith’s sweetly struck 25-yard free-kick crashed off the crossbar.
Birmingham had showed little in the way of attacking intent bar Aluko’s ninth-minute effort, but the England forward came close to breaking the deadlock with the last real chance of the half, forcing Emma Byrne to claw away another angled drive.
Little blazed over just after the restart before Houghton and White contrived to waste a glorious opportunity to score the opening goal.
Little broke into the right hand side of the box and clipped a cross to the back post where Houghton was waiting, unmarked. She appeared to misjudge her header, though, as the ball skewed off target and hit her team-mate before bouncing wide.
Williams was the next player to be guilty of such profligacy when she latched onto Chelsea Weston’s long ball forward. She skipped around the on-rushing Byrne but took herself just too wide and couldn’t get her shot on target.
For the most part, though, Birmingham were unable to make the most of the slope and were fairly careless in possession.
Arsenal appeared the more keen to avoid extra-time as Smith saw a curling free-kick turned behind by Spencer and then substitute Gemma Davison, on for White, thumped a shot against the post.
The Londoners grabbed the deserved winner with just eight minutes remaining and it came from their enigmatic midfielder Little. She collected the ball just outside the box and curled a wonderful left-footed effort beyond the helpless Spencer and into the far corner.
Birmingham were unable to muster a comeback in the short time that remained and Davison could have put the game to bed in the final minute but for Weston’s goal-line clearance.
The one goal proved enough though as Arsenal claimed back-to-back League and League Cup doubles.
1 Emma Byrne, 2 Steph Houghton, 5 Gilly Flaherty, 7 Ciara Grant, 9 Ellen White (12 Gemma Davison, 65), 11 Rachel Yankey (15 Danielle Carter, 90), 16 Kim Little, 17 Katie Chapman (C), 19 Niamh Fahey, 22 Alex Scott, 23 Kelly Smith (14 Jennifer Beattie, 78)
Substitutes not used 31 Sophie Harris, 3 Yvonne Tracy, 4 Jayne Ludlow, 30 Bianca Bragg
Manager Laura Harvey
22 Rebecca Spencer, 2 Chelsea Weston, 3 Kerys Harrop, 6 Laura Bassett (C), 8 Rachel Williams, 9 Eniola Aluko, 10 Karen Carney, 11 Jo Potter, 13 Jade Moore, 17 Rachel Unitt (7 Isobel Christiansen, 65), 19 Emily Westwood
Substitutes not used 1 Marie Hourihan, 4 Emily Simpkins, 12 Anna Wilcox, 16 Hannah George, 20 Marie Ballard, 21 Christina Torkildsen
Manager David Parker
Referee Rob Ellis