Arsenal Ladies are within four points of retaining their WSL crown.
The FA WSL
Sunday 9 September 2012
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Arsenal Ladies are now within four points of retaining their FA WSL crown after surviving a late scare to overcome Lincoln Ladies 2-1 at Meadow Park.
Jennifer Beattie and Rachel Yankey put the hosts in control before half-time, although Remi Allen’s late penalty earned Lincoln a small reward for their battling second-half display.
The visitors’ confidence and promise in the opening belied their lowly league standing, with the movement and persistence of Jess Clarke and her strike partner Precious Hamilton appearing to unsettle the Arsenal backline.
However, the hosts, who booked their place in the final of the FA WSL Continental Cup earlier in the week with a 4-0 demolition of Bristol Academy, settled into their groove before long, with Yankey and Gemma Davison stretching Lincoln in wide areas.
The influential wingers were at the heart of all of Arsenal’s good work in the attacking third, and it was no surprise when Yankey whipped a teasing inswinging cross into the box, and after Beattie saw her initial effort blocked, the Arsenal forward calmly slotted home from six yards out.
And with eight minutes of the first half remaining, Arsenal doubled their lead following a series of indecisive defensive errors from the visitors. Goalkeeper Nicola Hobbs’ wayward ball fell to Davison, and her fierce shot was well-parried, but after a series of botched clearances, Yankey swept the ball into the bottom corner from close-range to seemingly put the result beyond doubt before Allen's late goal following Katie Chapman's foul on Clarke in the box.
Everton remain in second place behind the Gunners, after goals from Toni Duggan and Gwen Harries earned them a deserved win over Chelsea.
Duggan opened the scoring early in the second half with a 20-yard stunner and Mo Marley's side had opportunities to add to their tally before Harries' low shot deceived Carly Telford to secure a 2-1 win, with Adriana Martin scoring for the visitors in stoppage time.
Marley was very satisfied by the performance, saying: “We felt we didn’t play well enough in our draw with Doncaster last weekend. The girls stepped it up and executed everything we demanded. We always want to win but we want to play well too; today we got both.”
Elsewhere, Birmingham Ladies recorded a resounding 5-2 victory over Liverpool but the scoreline did not tell the whole story.
A nine-minute spell of defensive madness in each half finally proved the hosts’ downfall, the first seeing them relinquish their early lead, the second sending the visitors out of sight. These aside, Liverpool arguably played the better football, urged on by new boss Matt Beard, so they can take some encouragement from the afternoon.
For Birmingham, the result kept the pressure on second-placed Everton in second while also handily improving their goal difference. The Reds opened the scoring through Michelle Evans with a fine volley, before Williams smashed two goals in two minutes to give Blues a half-time lead.
Jodie Taylor and Eniola Aluko added two more for Birmingham in quick succession before Williams competed her hat-trick in the 76th minute, meaning Kelly Jones' late goal for Liverpool was a mere consolation.
Birmingham boss David Parker hailed the win and is not ruling out his side’s title chances: “We keep batting away. Anyone can throw out out a result so we’ll keep going, focus on our own games and if we get a little favour from another team we’ll take that."