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Women's Football News
Arsenal started off the New Year with a comfortable 7-0 victory against Colchester Utd to book their place in the Fifth Round of the F.A.Women's Cup.
In the absence of Karen Carney and with Kelly Smith staying on the bench, it was Kim Little who caught the eye with a hat-trick in the second half to add to Katie Chapman's first half double.
All this had seemed very unlikely in the first half hour when a lethargic Gunners team had created nothing to trouble the Colchester defence and possession had been shared between the teams. Colchester, backed by a considerable following from Essex, had reached the Arsenal penalty area quite frequently without creating a clear opening and were matching their opponents all over the park.
The move which altered the match was the swapping sides of Arsenal wingers Rachel Yankey and Gemma Davison. It was the latter's trademark drive into the left hand side of the box past two defenders which allowed Katie Chapman to tuck home a neat finish on 34 minutes and break the deadlock. Kim Little then made her first telling contribution as she threaded a clever pass through a crowded penalty area for Chapman to beat the advancing Nikita Runnacles three minutes later and suddenly the chances were flowing. Laura Bassett hit the angle with a 15 yard shot just before the break and Arsenal, who went into the break with a two-goal lead, could afford to rest Chapman and Faye White for the second half, replaced by Gilly Flaherty and Natalie Ross.
Rachel Yankey and Gemma Davison continued to see a great deal of the ball after the break as they retook their original flanks and put in a succession of crosses and cut backs for others to feed on. Little took three such offerings, two neat close range finishes and a fine header to seal her hat-trick, whilst Lander was first denied by the post, but finished the second chance expertly to record her first goal for the club before blazing a final effort over from close range. By then, Arsenal were seven goals ahead as Laura Bassett had found the top corner of the goal from 25 yards with a finish which lacked the power of her earlier thunderbolt but found the net somehow!
Despite the severity of the scoreline by the end, Colchester had battled well all through the match with Helen Bass and Kate Longhurst in particular creating promising situations with good skill and movement but being unable to trouble Emma Byrne in the Arsenal goal. A particular mention to Colchester goalkeeper Nikita Runnacles whose sound handling of crosses impressed and was matched by three super saves from close range shots to keep the score down.
A new year but the same result for Arsenal who will face the long journey to Middlesbrough of the Northern Combination in the next round.
(Report by Patrick Higgins)
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