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Women's Football News
Arsenal booked their place in the F.A.Women's Cup semi finals with a 3-1 victory over Leeds Carnegie in a match which marked a Boreham Wood farewell to Kelly Smith, Alex Scott and Karen Carney.
The first two USA-bound players played and were joined on the pitch by Carney for a post match presentation by manager Vic Akers to mark their major contributions to recent triumphs.
The game was well contested with Leeds giving as good as they got for the first forty five minutes and being unfortunate to be behind at the break. Jess Clarke was in good form on the left and Jade Moore, Sue Smith, Steph Houghton and Katie Holtham moved the ball around impressively in midfield. However, the visitors were hit by a dubious opener when an inswinging corner appeared to be caught by Carly Telford before she was hit by a challenge from an Arsenal player which caused her to release the ball into the net.
The second goal was a classic Jayne Ludlow header from ten yards and it seemed that Arsenal were cruising at this point. However, Leeds continued to press forward and worry the Gunners back four, Clarke hitting a 30-yard shot inches wide and Sue Smith put in three dangerous near post corners, the last of which was only half cleared and Jade Moore forced the ball past a defender on the line to give Leeds renewed hope.
The contest was very fierce with the officials having a busy time dealing with hard tackling and a degree of dissent which led to two first half bookings for Alex Culvin and Kelly Smith.
After the break, Arsenal lifted their game and started to carve out the chances which the home supporters are used to seeing with Kelly Smith giving a demonstration of the range of skills fans have enjoyed over the last four years. Gemma Davison also stood out with a number of her trademark runs. Leeds continued to work very hard but only really threatened once through a long range Carla Cantrell shot which was inches over Emma Byrne's goal.
Arsenal were able to seal the win when Smith harried a Leeds defender into surrendering possession on the goal line, cut in towards goal and set up Davison with a precise cut back.
Alex Scott hit the bar with a super 25-yard strike late on and the final effort of the match was, fittingly, a piece of Smith magic, volleying a dropping ball just over from the edge of the area.
As players depart the Arsenal camp, one new face took her place on the bench as a welcome reinforcement for the rest of the season; Scottish international Suzanne Grant has joined from Hibernian and will no doubt help the team as they battle for supremacy on a number of fronts. Leeds Carnegie had given a convincing display against the Cup holders where their young players had not been overawed and had defended well. A repeat of goalkeeper Telford's heroics in last year's final had not been necessary as she had been well shielded by Alex Culvin, Sophie Bradley, Mel Sutcliffe and Sophie Walton. However, Arsenal have deservedly moved into yet another semi final draw.
(Report by Patrick Higgins)
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