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Arsenal 5 (Smith 5,33,57, Scott 66, S.Grant 89)
Doncaster Rovers Belles 0
att: 2,753; at Scunthorpe United F.C.
England star Kelly Smith said goodbye to English domestic football with a hat-trick and a stunning display as Arsenal ran out convincing winners over Doncaster Rovers Belles at Glanford Park.
Alex Scott, who will be joining up with Smith at Boston Breakers, also found the net and Smith's replacement, Suzanne Grant, marked her debut bu scoring the fifth as the Gunners proved to be too strong for their valiant opponents.
Arsenal were without captain Faye White through injury, meaning that Laura Bassett came into the centre of defence alongside Ciara Grant, while new signing Suzanne Grant from Hibernian started on the bench. The Belles were without injured leading scorer Liz Hanson and midfielder Precious Hamilton because of suspension and both were sorely missed by the Yorkshire side.
Although making a slightly nervy start, giving away possession on a couple of occasions, it was Arsenal who struck the opening blow in the sixth minute. Ciara Grant's deflected pass released Kim Little clear on goal and she calmly rounded Nicola Hobbs and rolled the ball goalwards where Kelly Smith made sure from close range.
Doncaster tried to make an early reply with Chelsea Weston firing a free kick wide but Arsenal should have been two ahead as Smith a delightful pass into the path of Gemma Davison who sent a low ball across the area for Rachel Yankey who lifted her shot over the bar with the goal at her mercy.
Another long ball almost led to another Arsenal goal, Little made a strong run down the left and crossed for Smith whose header was saved by Hobbs, the rebound fell kindly for Smith but Hobbs recovered superbly to make a block and deny the England striker her second goal.
Doncaster were enjoying as much possession as Arsenal at this stage, with the strong running Rachel Williams prominent up front, but they were finding it difficult to pierce the Gunners defence and create any clear opportunities.
Alex Scott sent a 25-yard shot just over following a good passing move but the second goal was not too long in coming. Little crossed from the left for Smith who drew two defenders before planting her shot into the far corner of the net.
However Doncaster should really have pulled one back two minutes later, Vikki Stevens' pass found Emma Johnson in the area where her shot was deflected into the path of an unmarked Emily Heckler who fired over from six yards. Williams then burst through and did well to hold off the challenge of Ciara Grant but she dragged her left foot shot wide of the far post.
Heckler headed over from a pinpoint Weston cross as Doncaster continued to press but Arsenal almost struck a third as Jayne Ludlow volleyed inches over the bar.
The first chance of the second half went the way of Arsenal but Ludlow was unable to turn Davison's cross goalwards. However the script was finally written twelve minutes after the restart as Smith buried a 20-yard shot past Hobbs to complete her hat-trick.
Arsenal immediately threatened another; Davison dribbled through and exchanged passes with Smith but Hobbs came off her line to save, the ball rebounded to Smith whose pass set up Yankey to fire an angled shot which was charged down by Weston.
Another piece of magic from Smith led to Arsenal scoring their fourth goal. A brilliant reverse pass inside the full back released Scott inside the area and she coolly clipped the ball over the diving Hobbs with her right foot.
Chapman slotted home confidently from Little's through ball but her celebrations were cut short by a late offside flag. Meanwhile there was a scare at the other end for Arsenal as Emma Byrne was dispossessed by Williams, who laid the ball back for Heckler whose shot drifted just wide of the far post.
Scott drilled another shot just wide but Arsenal were to find the net again, Little's precise through ball picking out Suzanne Grant who marked her Gunners debut with a neat finish into the corner of the net.
Arsenal: Emma Byrne, Alex Scott, Niamh Fahey, Jayne Ludlow, Laura Bassett (sub Gilly Flaherty 80mins), Katie Chapman, Ciara Grant, Kelly Smith (sub Lauren Bruton 85mins), Gemma Davison (sub Suzanne Grant 76mins), Kim Little, Rachel Yankey. Subs: Natalie Ross, Sarah Quantrill.
Doncaster Rovers Belles: Nicola Hobbs, Chelsea Weston, Vanessa Leat, Rachel Williams, Claire Utley, Amy Turner, Emily Heckler, Vicky Exley, Vikki Stevens (sub Natalie Shaw 76mins), Natasha Hughes, Emma Johnson (sub Naomi Chadwick 85mins). Subs: Suzanne Davies, Claire Farrow, Sarah Owen.
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