Arsenal Ladies, who are the reigning champions of the Super League, won their 12th FA Cup on Sunday May 26 when they shutout Bristol Academy 3-0 at the Keepmoat Stadium in Doncaster. The Arsenal women got off to a flying start when skipper Steph Houghton headed in a cross from the left wing by Rachel Yankey before two minutes had elapsed.
This would prove to be the game winner, but the female Gunners added a pair of insurance goals to guaranteed victory. Jordan Nobbs Scored to make it 2-0 after 71 minutes with another header off of a cross from Gemma Davison and Ellen White hammered home the third and final goal in stoppage time. Arsenal forward and England international Kelly Smith missed the match with an injury which meant White played as the lone striker.
This represents the 39th major trophy for the Ladies since the team was launched in 1987, which makes them England’s most successful women’s football club. The women have won the UEFA Champions League once as well as a pair of Super League titles, a dozen FA Premier League championships and FA Cups, two FA WSL Continental Cups, and 10 FA Women’s Premier League Cups. It was Arsenal’s seventh FA Cup triumph in the past 10 seasons.
For manager Shelley Kerr, it was her first trophy since taking over the team just four months ago. She said, “We have been so successful in the past and the expectations have been so high. For me it’s all about the players – they have been exceptional today. Before the game, I just said to them ‘relax’. We have been playing good football and sometimes you just have to be patient to get results. I thought we won comfortably in the end.”
Arsenal also beat Bristol in the Cup Final in 2011 and unfortunately for them they couldn’t produce an effort to avenge that loss. They had a bit of bad luck as Laura de Rio, a superb playmaker and the team’s top scorer from Spain, didn’t start the match due to an injured hamstring. Without her on the pitch, manager Mark Sampson’s team looked a little bit lost when it came to creativity and setting up chances on goal. To make matters worse, Bristol’s Luci Staniforth had to come off in the second half with a knee injury.
Bristol did manage to give the Arsenal Ladies a wake-up call shortly after Houghton had put them in the lead when Corinne Yorston hit the post on a corner kick and the rebound was lifted over the net by Jemma Rose. Arsenal fully deserved their win as they had the majority of possession and created numerous quality scoring chances. However, Bristol keeper Siobhan Chamberlain, an England international, was equal to the task on most of the shots to keep the score respectable. Arsenal keeper Emma Byrne wasn’t nearly as busy, but did everything that was asked of her to earn the clean sheet.
After the match, Bristol keeper Chamberlain shared her disappointment by saying, “We didn’t really turn up. We have been playing well in the league but here a lot of our players didn’t perform as well as they can. It is disappointing, because we had a lot more to give.”
Hopefully the win will jumpstart the Ladies season since Arsenal has just one point in their first two matches of the Women’s Super League. Bristol, on the other hand, are sitting at the top of the table after winning all three of their league matches up to now. Arsenal’s Jordan Nobbs was deservedly named the player of the match as she had an excellent game and was dangerous from start to finish.