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Bristol Academy 2 (McCatty 53, Yorston 87)
Arsenal 2 (White 36, Yankey 58)
Bristol Academy full back Corinne Yorston bundled home a late goal against her former club to earn her side a 2-2 draw following a rousing second half fightback.
Arsenal had completely dominated the first half at Stoke Gifford and should have been well ahead at the break but were made to pay for their profligacy by a determined home side who stretched their unbeaten run to five matches, mainly thanks to a stunning display from goalkeeper Siobhan Chamberlain.
Arsenal were quickly out of the blocks and could have been ahead early on as Julie Fleeting's effort from a Rachel Yankey cross was cleared off the line by Jemma Rose. Ellen White was then put through on goal and tried to lob the oncoming Chamberlain but did not quite get enough on the ball and the keeper was able to catch above her head.
A Steph Houghton free kick picked out Jennifer Beattie whose header came back off the post and Chamberlain saved a White shot low down as Arsenal continued to call the shots.
With Katie Chapman and Jordan Nobbs controlling the midfield area, Arsenal still pressed hard with Nobbs firing wide and Fleeting's downward header from a Houghton free kick bringing out an excellent diving save by Chamberlain. Houghton then crashed a 25-yard shot against the bar as Arsenal's frustrations started to grow.
Nine minutes before half time, Arsenal finally took the lead as Yankey played a fine pass into the path of White and this time the striker gave Chamberlain no chance with a clinical finish inside the far corner.
The Bristol Academy attack had barely been involved in the first half but after the break, they began to threaten for the first time in the match. Helen Bleazard was in lively form down both flanks and they went closest so far from one of her crosses, Jessica Fishlock getting in a header which was deflected wide.
The home side's early enterprise was rewarded when they got back on level terms. Rose's long ball caught the Arsenal defence cold and central defensive partner Grace McCatty broke through and showed great composure when sliding her shot past Emma Byrne for the equaliser.
Academy should have been in front two minutes later, Bleazard being heavily involved once again as her cross from the left was nodded down by Loren Dykes but Ann Marie Heatherson miscued her shot past the post with only Byrne to beat.
The miss looked even more costly as Arsenal went back in front with their next attack, albeit in bizarre circumstances. Rachel Yankey's inswinging corner from the right appeared to be left by Alex Culvin for Chamberlain but the keeper was unable to prevent the ball from bouncing in.
The goal did not deflate Academy and they went on to inflict their best spell of the game. Indecision in the Arsenal defence almost cost them as Ciara Grant tried to leave the ball for Byrne to collect but Heatherson slid in to get to the ball first although she could only poke the ball wide. Heatherson then failed to take a clear cut chance as her left foot shot was off target following a good move.
Molly Clark twice fired shots wide and Anouk Hoogendijk saw a goalbound effort blocked by Grant as Arsenal rode out the storm and then sought out what would be a killer third goal. It almost came as Danielle Carter wriggled her way past two defenders and curled a shot towards the far corner but Chamberlain stretched to make a fine save.
Chamberlain then produced her best stop of all, a brilliant fingertip save to turn a Yankey shot onto the bar after it looked destined for the back of the net.
Three minutes from time, Academy sent the home crowd wild as they snatched themselves a share of the spoils. Fishlock broke down the right and her deflected cross was not held by Byrne, Arsenal tried to scramble the ball away but Houghton's clearance was charged down by Yorston and Gilly Flaherty could not prevent the ball from finding the net via a post.
If the FA Women's Cup Final between these two teams is half as good, it will be a game not to miss.
Bristol Academy: Siobhan Chamberlain, Corinne Yorston, Alex Culvin (sub Jade Radburn 82mins), Grace McCatty, Jemma Rose, Anouk Hoogendijk, Helen Bleazard, Molly Clark (sub Michelle Green 79mins), Ann Marie Heatherson (sub Lillie Billson 79mins), Jessica Fishlock, Loren Dykes. Subs not used: Alex Windell, Emma Jones.
Arsenal: Emma Byrne, Jennifer Beattie (sub Kim Little 56mins), Niamh Fahey, Steph Houghton, Gilly Flaherty, Katie Chapman, Ciara Grant, Jordan Nobbs (sub Danielle Carter 73mins), Ellen White, Julie Fleeting, Rachel Yankey. Subs not used: Yvonne Tracy, Rebecca Spencer, Laura Coombs.
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