Arsenal 3-0 Bristol Academy
The FA Women’s Cup
3pm, Sunday 26 May 2013
Keepmoat Stadium, Doncaster Rovers FC
Live on BBC Two HD
Winning club will receive £5,000 from The FA prize fund
by Glenn Lavery
Arsenal reclaimed The FA Women's Cup after defeating Bristol Academy 3-0 in The Final at Keepmoat Stadium.
Steph Houghton nodded home a fine opener in just the second minute of play, Jordan Nobbs doubled the lead on 72 with a header of her own and Ellen White sealed the win deep into added time.
These three goals extended the Gunners' record to 12 Cup triumphs and their first since 2011 when they proved too strong for the same opponents who were then appearing in their first Final.
And the perennial Cup winners got off to the perfect start as their skipper headed them into the lead almost from the kick-off.
Houghton sprayed the ball wide to Rachel Yankey on the left wing and then continued her run into the box. England’s most capped player of all time delivered a delicious cross to the back post where Houghton had peeled off her marker to powerfully plunder home an early opener.
The Vixens, far from being shell shocked, sought an instant reply and came close to levelling after Lucy Staniforth’s low corner hit the near post and bounced into the six yard box where Jemma Rose could only knock her shot over the bar.
But Arsenal upped the ante soon after and White forced Siobhan Chamberlain into two very good saves within five minutes of each other.
The first saw her turn a snapshot over the bar, but the second stop was far better as she stretched every sinew to palm away her England colleague’s close range effort following another excellent centre from Yankey.
Bristol players openly admit to freezing in 2011 and they did well not to fold after conceding so early. They played some nice football in patches and Nikki Watts’s attempted lob was just too high to trouble Emma Byrne in the Arsenal goal.
As the half wore on neither side were able to fashion many goal chances, though young midfielder Nobbs came close to doubling the Gunners’ advantage shortly before the break. She burst down the inside right channel and into the Bristol area, but her angled drive came back off the far upright and, luckily for the Vixens, straight into Chamberlain’s arms.
The west country outfit started the second half brightly and Lucy Staniforth forced Byrne to get down well at her near post to turn a free-kick behind for a corner.
But Arsenal came again with Yankey curling a free-kick just over the frame of the goal, Houghton missing the target from range and Gilly Flaherty heading Kim Little’s corner narrowly wide.
The game was stopped after Staniforth fell to the floor in agony having seemingly caught her studs in the turf, causing what is likely to be a very lengthy lay-off.
Whether this stoppage affected Bristol is debatable but when the game restarted Arsenal quickly assumed control of proceedings and doubled their lead just minutes later.
Davison did well to battle her way past Vixens’ captain Corinne Yorston down the right and she delivered a pinpoint cross which Nobbs headed back across goal and into the far corner to give the Gunners a comfortable lead.
Bristol boss Mark Sampson made an attacking change almost immediately, replacing right-back Loren Dykes with the prolific Spanish striker Laura Del Rio. And the manager’s intentions were almost rewarded as Natalia Pablos Sanchon, another Spaniard, came close with an overhead kick inside the box.
Nobbs, though, had the chance the seal the win on the counter attack with just six minutes remaining. She latched onto Davison’s through ball and bore down on goal but Chamberlain sped from her line to bravely deny the 20-year-old a second goal.
A third Arsenal goal did come, however, in the fourth of six added minutes as White smashed the ball into an empty net after Chamberlain had parried Nobbs’s close range effort.
This goal capped a fine Arsenal win and allowed them to claim their seventh Cup win in ten years and the first of Kerr’s fledgling reign.
1 Emma Byrne, 2 Steph Houghton (C), 5 Gilly Flaherty, 7 Ciara Grant (3 Yvonne Tracy, 90+2), 8 Jordan Nobbs, 9 Ellen White, 11 Rachel Yankey (15 Danielle Carter, 85), 12 Gemma Davison, 14 Jennifer Beattie (25 Jade Bailey, 90+3), 16 Kim Little, 22 Alex Scott.
Substitutes not used 13 Rebecca Spencer, 28 Lauren Bruton
Manager Shelley Kerr
1 Siobhan Chamberlain, 2 Loren Dykes (13 Laura Del Rio, 74), 3 Corinne Yorston (C), 4 Jasmine Matthews, 7 Natalia Pablos Sanchon, 8 Alex Windell (16 Angharad James, 46), 9 Ann-Marie Heatherson, 15 Nikki Watts, 19 Jemma Rose, 20 Natasha Harding, 37 Lucy Staniforth (5 Grace McCatty, 66).
Substitutes not used 22 Rebekah Kyle, 11 Ellie Curson
Manager Mark Sampson
Referee Jane Simms