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Women's Football News
Arsenal set up a potentially classic FA Women's Cup Final by comfortably seeing off the challenge of Chelsea at Staines with a 4-0 semi final victory on Sunday.
Three goals late in the first half effectively killed off the tie in favour of the Gunners after a Chelsea team, weakened by a lack of attacking options with both first choice strikers cup tied, had resisted well and looked capable of frustrating the Arsenal attack and creating a few chances on the break.
Julie Fleeting , Kim Little and Faye White took their chances clinically and the only surprise was that the Gunners failed to add more than Jayne Ludlow's goal in a dominant second half where Little was quite outstanding when breaking from midfield.
The Blues set up to contain a full strength Arsenal and exploit the pace of Dunia Susi and Becky Jane on the break. Chelsea had a scary moment when Rachel Yankey broke clear on the left and sent a low cross along the six yard box. From the near post Yankey corner, Arsenal had two efforts scrambled off the line with Siobhan Chamberlain beaten on ten minutes.
Chelsea survived comfortably for the next 25 minutes and created a couple of dangerous openings of their own with Susi, notably, drawing a diving save from Emma Byrne then firing an excellent effort from distance which had the Irish keeper beaten but flew just wide on the half hour. Claire Rafferty had another shot saved soon after but the Blues' promising spell was cruelly cut short as Little broke free on the left and measured a precise cut back for Fleeting to sidefoot home on 35 minutes.
Little then created a yard of space and placed an inch perfect finish into the far corner two minutes later. Just when it seemed that Chelsea could regroup at the break, a classic towering White header gave Arsenal a comfortable cushion.
Chelsea tried to push forward to get back into the tie but were guilty of poor final passes which meant that Byrne and the back four were rarely in any trouble. With more space available, the Gunners were able to pick out the well timed runs of Little, who was a constant menace to the Blues defence. Her alert running even allowed her to surprise and rob Chamberlain, who recovered well to foil the Scot. However, Little raced into the box again a few minutes later and laid on a simple finish for Ludlow on 63 minutes.
An offside flag foiled Little from finishing an astute Ludlow pass and, such was Arsenal's dominance, even Ciara Grant found herself a victim of the assistant referee when clean through. Jennifer Beattie came on very effectively for Fleeting with Little pushing on and Arsenal always looked capable of adding to their lead, despite the best efforts of Kylie Davies, who was very impressive throughout in the Blues defence.
Gemma Davison rattled the angle of post and bar from point blank range after yet another Little incursion into the box and set up pass and was promptly replaced by Helen Lander.
The tie drifted to a comfortable finish for Arsenal and they can prepare for an exciting end to the season with Everton and Leeds Carnegie looking to deny Laura Harvey's team another League and Cup double.
Chelsea: Siobhan Chamberlain, Casey Stoney, Kylie Davies Shelby Hills, Eartha Pond, Leanne Champ, Drew Spence, Claire Rafferty, Dunia Susi, Becky Jane, Dani Buet. Subs: Emily Morphitis, Sophie Perry, Kirsty Barton, Sarah Kempson, Emma Sherwood.
Arsenal: Emma Byrne, Corinne Yorston, Gilly Flaherty, Faye White, Niamh Fahey, Ciara Grant, Jayne Ludlow, Rachel Yankey, Kim Little, Gemma Davison, Julie Fleeting. Subs: Becky Spencer, Helen Lander, Yvonne Tracy, Jennifer Beattie, Danielle Carter.
(Report by Patrick Higgins)
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