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Everton 3 (Dowie 16,118, White og 45)
Arsenal 2 (Little pen 42, Fleeting 53)
after extra time
att: 17,505; at the City Ground, Nottingham Forest F.C.
Natasha Dowie scored twice, including a dramatic late extra time winner, as Everton ended Arsenal's winning run in the F.A.Women's Cup and lifted the Cup for the first time since 1998 in a pulsating Final at the City Ground.
Everton manager Mo Marley elected to play Emily Westwood alongside Lindsay Johnson in the centre of defence whilst Arsenal were without the suspended Jayne Ludlow, Jennifer Beattie deputising in the centre of midfield.
The first ten minutes were largely uneventful but it was Everton who appeared to settle down quicker and they produced the first meaningful effort on goal as Fara Williams fired over the bar, after a Jody Handley free kick had been half cleared.
Minutes later and Everton were in front, Williams' initial drive from the edge of the area was well saved by Emma Byrne but Handley returned the ball into the area for Dowie, whose initial shot was blocked by Faye White but the rebound fell kindly for Dowie who coolly tucked a left foot shot into the corner of the net.
Arsenal almost struck back straight away with Julie Fleeting heading wide from a Gemma Davison cross and Rachel Yankey was next to threaten after racing onto a pass threaded through by Jennifer Beattie and her right foot shot brought out a good save from Rachel Brown. Beattie herself was next to test Brown following a neat turn on the edge of the area.
However Everton were to pass up a glorious chance to double their lead as Dowie fed Toni Duggan on the right and her cross picked out an unmarked Williams who missed the target with her header from six yards.
Duggan drilled a left foot shot inches wide of the far post but Arsenal were quickly back on the attack and Gemma Davison dragged a shot well wide from an angle after being set up by Julie Fleeting.
A flashpoint came as Emily Westwood was shown a yellow card for an off-the-ball push on Yankey. Arsenal picked up momentum following this and won themselves a great chance to equalise as Davison powered into the area where she was brought down by Rachel Unitt. A penalty was the verdict and Kim Little duly levelled the scores despite Brown getting a hand to her shot.
Everton were to get another huge blow in when the game went into first half stoppage time. Duggan made space for herself on the left and swung in a dangerous cross which touched off the top of White's head, beyond the dive of Byrne and into the corner of the net.
Far from deflated by the setback, Arsenal made a fast start to the second half and Everton found themselves on the back foot. They were once again back on terms after Kim Little dribbled past two defenders and fed a pass down the left to Yankey, whose low cross picked out Fleeting whose left foot strike sailed over Brown's head and under the bar.
Everton introduced Fern Whelan as a substitute to try and bolster their defence and she was immediately called into action, making a vital last ditch tackle to deny Davison. Arsenal were dominating matters at this stage with Little controlling the midfield region and wingers Davison and Yankey a constant threat.
Little lifted a free kick over the bar and Niamh Fahey headed wide from a teasing Yankey cross as Arsenal continued to press but Everton did begin to look more dangerous on the counter attack and they were next to go close, Dowie cutting in from the right and evading two challenges before her low ball just evaded Michelle Hinnigan and past the far post.
Beattie headed straight at Brown from a Yankey free kick and Brown needed to be alert to come off her line and smother from Davison after she was released in the area by Little. This was the last opportunity and the final whistle took the game into extra time.
Both sides had chances in the opening minutes, firstly Davison charged into the area where she was crowded out by both Johnson and Whelan and Everton hit back quickly, a long free kick from Williams was nodded on by Handley and into the path of Dowie who miscued her shot straight at Byrne.
Arsenal started the second period strongly and almost went in front, Little was inevitably involved as she broke down the right and her low cross picked out Flaherty at the far post but the young defender's goalbound shot was well blocked by Easton. White turned an effort wide after Yankey had lashed the ball into the area as Arsenal sought a possible winner.
However Everton came up with a stunning blow with just two minutes left on the clock. Brooke Chaplen slid the ball into the area where Dowie just beat the advancing Byrne to the ball and clipped her shot inside the far post to send her side ahead for a third time.
There was no coming back for Arsenal after this and Everton just needed to negotiate the dying moments in order to claim a stunning victory.
Everton: Rachel Brown, Becky Easton, Rachel Unitt (sub Fern Whelan 62mins), Fara Williams, Emily Westwood, Lindsay Johnson, Jody Handley, Jill Scott, Natasha Dowie, Michelle Hinnigan (sub Brooke Chaplen 77mins), Toni Duggan (sub Michelle Evans 110mins). Subs: Alex Culvin, Nicola Hobbs.
Arsenal: Emma Byrne, Niamh Fahey, Corinne Yorston, Jennifer Beattie, Gilly Flaherty, Faye White, Gemma Davison, Ciara Grant, Julie Fleeting (sub Danielle Carter 69mins), Kim Little, Rachel Yankey. Subs: Yvonne Tracy, Rebecca Spencer, Helen Lander, Lauren Bruton.
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