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Women's Football News
Arsenal 3 (Fleeting 24, White 47,69)
Charlton Athletic 0
att: 2,512; at Brentford F.C.
England captain Faye White scored two of the goals, including a stunning strike, as Arsenal recaptured the Premier League Cup for the first time in four years and the eighth time overall with a 3-0 victory over holders Charlton Athletic.
Arsenal went into the match with their first choice eleven, minus the injured Kelly Smith, whilst Charlton were missing powerful full back Eartha Pond, with youngster Leanne Reidy deputising.
Both teams found it difficult during the early stages to settle in the windy conditions and bobbly surface and the latter was in evidence for the game's first shooting opportunity as Julie Fleeting sliced a shot wide when well placed.
The game continued in the same vein with the sides cancelling each other out until the 18th minute when Eniola Aluko found some rare space on the right and sent in a good low cross which Kirsty Pealling did well to clear at the far post. The pacey Aluko then had a great chance as the Arsenal defence and goalkeeper hesitated to deal with a long ball from Casey Stoney and the Charlton striker got to the loose ball forward but she poked her shot into the side netting with only Byrne to beat.
Arsenal then responded with a fine goal. For the first time in the match, they managed to get their passing game going and a good move finished with Lianne Sanderson releasing Pealling on the right, her pinpoint cross picked out Fleeting at the far post and the Scottish striker headed past Pauline Cope and into the corner of the net.
With Charlton rattled by the goal, Arsenal won a corner from which Fleeting had a shot blocked before the ball was finally scrambled clear. Fleeting again was to look dangerous as Arsenal counter attacked from a Charlton corner with a trademark run at goal but this time she scuffed her shot straight at Cope.
Charlton were next to go close as the match continued to warm up. Jo Broadhurst drove a free kick into the area where a neat glancing header by Walker was brilliantly saved low to her right by Byrne. The resulting corner was well flicked on by Casey Stoney but none of her team mates had made a run to the far post. Broadhurst was having a good game down the left and she produced another good cross soon afterwards which Danielle Murphy headed narrowly wide.
Two minutes into the second half, Arsenal took a firm grip on the game after winning a corner on the left. Pealling's low corner was helped on by Ciara Grant and Faye White stretched to turn the ball over the line. Murphy cleared but the linesman's flag was raised immediately to indicate the ball had already crossed the line and Arsenal were two ahead.
Charlton introduced Ann Marie Heatherson in a bid to add extra attacking power and Walker forced Byrne to save from a Murphy cross but Arsenal once again responded quickly, Fleeting making her way to goal line and pulling the ball back for Ludlow to sidefoot wide from the edge of the area.
All hopes of a Charlton revival were resoundingly ended in the 69th minute when, after a spell of possession, White strode forward to crash a superb 30-yard shot over Cope and into the top corner for her second goal.
Charlton gamely tried to salvage something from the game but the irrepressible Fleeting almost added her own second with a storming run which took her past Hills and Reidy before her shot struck the bar, the rebound fell for Banks who also hit the bar from a yard out but her embarrassment was saved by an offside flag. Seconds later, Fleeting made another great run, pulling the ball back for Ludlow who shot over from eight yards.
Jodian Clarke had a shot saved by Byrne who then had to dive at the feet of Walker but Arsenal still looked dangerous on the counter with Banks firing a good chance over and Cope making a great reflex save from Ludlow during stoppage time.
Arsenal: Emma Byrne, Kirsty Pealling, Leanne Champ, Jayne Ludlow, Mary Phillip, Faye White, Ciara Grant, Angela Banks, Lianne Sanderson, Julie Fleeting, Clare Wheatley. Subs: Anita Asante (for Sanderson 71 mins), Kirsty McBride (for Wheatley 85 mins), Yvonne Tracey (for Pealling 85 mins), Justine Lorton, Amber Hearn.
Charlton: Pauline Cope, Casey Stoney, Leanne Reidy, Emma Coss, Karen Hills, Katie Chapman, Danielle Murphy, Sian Williams, Carmaine Walker, Jo Broadhurst, Eniola Aluko. Subs: Ann Marie Heatherson (for Aluko 49 mins), Jess Smith (for Williams 62 mins), Jodian Clarke (for Broadhurst 75 mins), Alexa Hunn, Ebony Cabey-Gooden.
Photo - Arsenal goalkeeper Julie Fleeting is chased by Leanne Reidy.
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