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Women's Football News
Arsenal 3 (Sanderson 38, Fleeting 53, Maggs 90)
Fulham 1 (McArthur 83)
Arsenal are the Premier League Champions for the sixth time after they produced a decisive display to beat Fulham in the title showdown at Highbury in front of around 5,000 fans, which included Arsene Wenger and Patrick Vieira. The Gunners were given a late scare by a typically never-say-die Fulham side but sealed matters in the dying minutes of a thrilling second half.
Kim Jerray-Silver was the first to produce a dangerous effort on goal, a dipping shot which was just over but a good piece of play from Julie Fleeting almost led to Arsenal going in front, beating two players to set up Ciara Grant whose drive flew inches wide. Two minutes later, a 25-yard free kick from Kirsty Pealling drew a superb save from Leanne Hall, diving to her left to fingertip past the post.
Grant once again shot inches wide from a similar range but it was after Fulham had enjoyed a good spell, without really troubling Emma Byrne, that Arsenal took the lead in the 38th minute. Fleeting fed Lianne Sanderson on the left hand edge of the area, where she turned past Mary Phillip and carried the ball towards goal, Hall got a touch on her shot but could not keep it out.
Fulham started brightly in the second half with Rachel McArthur having a header comfortably saved by Byrne who also had to hold a shot from Yankey but Arsenal struck a huge blow on 53 minutes. Ironically it was Byrne who was in the unusual role of provider, her long kick being missed by the Fulham defence and allowing Fleeting clean through on goal, the Scottish striker showing exceptional coolness to take the ball round Hall and roll into the empty net.
Fleeting went close again with a diving header after Ellen Maggs had been released down the left by Sanderson. The young striker again did well with a fine pass to put Fleeting away down the right, she slid in a low cross into the path of Maggs who skied her shot over.
It took a great challenge from Katie Chapman to deny Maggs a goal as she tried to head in a good cross from Jo Potter as Arsenal kept up the pressure. Jayne Ludlow then shot over when well placed after Fleeting's low cross and McArthur blocked a powerful Potter shot, before Fleeting did get the ball in the Fulham net but was flagged for offside.
Fulham's hopes were briefly raised when Chapman headed in a Rachel Unitt free kick but, once again, the offside flag cut short their celebrations. However it was all back on again as a Sanchia Duncan corner was headed away as far as Yankey who returned the ball back into the area for McArthur to bury her shot in the back of the net from ten yards.
It was a nervy ten minutes for Arsenal but the game was killed off in injury time. Fleeting held the ball up near the corner flag before laying the ball back to Pealling whose cross was met by a firm Maggs header which was planted in the corner, giving Hall no chance.
Arsenal: Emma Byrne, Kirsty Pealling, Julie Fleeting, Jayne Ludlow, Leanne Champ, Faye White, Anita Asante, Ciara Grant, Lianne Sanderson, Ellen Maggs, Clare Wheatley. Subs: Jo Potter (for Sanderson 78 mins), Sian Williams, Alex Scott, Justine Lorton, Carol Harwood.
Fulham: Leanne Hall, Kim Jerray-Silver, Rachel Unitt, Jess Wright, Mary Phillip, Katie Chapman, Rachel McArthur, Gemma Ritchie, Tammy Waine, Sanchia Duncan, Rachel Yankey. Subs: Dani Bird (for Ritchie 76 mins), Roxanne Bennett (for Waine 89 mins), Michelle Hickmott, Siobhan Chamberlain.
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