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Arsenal 1 (Fleeting 75)
Charlton Athletic 2 (Aluko 28,45)
att: 3,506; at the Causeway Stadium, Wycombe
England striker Eniola Aluko produced two sublime first half finishes as Charlton Athletic regained the Premier League Cup in an entertaining match at Wycombe, and inflicting a first ever major Cup Final defeat on Arsenal in open play.
Arsenal were near to full strength and fielded Alex Scott in a left back role and Ciara Grant was among the substitutes, Charlton meanwhile were without Danielle Murphy and Gemma Ritchie as well as their long term injury victims. Maria Bertelli reverted to centre back with Eartha Pond starting in front of the back four and Amanda Barr in an unaccustomed midfield role.
Jo Potter fired a shot over the bar early on for Charlton but it needed a good tackle at the other end from Katie Chapman to deny Kelly Smith from running through on goal.
The early exchanges were fairly even before the first opening came as Smith was released by a fine pass from Alex Scott but the England striker sent her left foot shot over.
Rachel Yankey was narrowly off target with a dipping shot after cutting in from the right but a good spell of Arsenal pressure ironically resulted in Charlton hitting them on the break. Casey Stoney's long ball was latched onto by Eniola Aluko and the speedy striker coolly lobbed over the advancing Emma Byrne to give her side the lead.
Arsenal hit back strongly and a typical piece of trickery saw Smith win her side a free kick on the edge of the area. The chance was lost though as Smith shot tamely into the wall and it summed up Arsenal's early frustrations.
Sanderson forced a save from Pauline Cope following a good move and the Charlton goalkeeper pulled off an even better stop moments afterwards, palming away a Sanderson volley and Yankey was unable to force the rebound home from the tightest of angles.
Charlton struck a huge blow in first half injury time, capitalising as Scott overran the ball in her own half and was dispossessed by Sarah Snare, who slid the ball into the path of Aluko to neatly slot the ball past Byrne and into the far corner for her second goal. The half time whistle sounded seconds later, leaving the Gunners with a mountain to climb.
The first attempt on goal in the second half also came from Charlton, a far post cross from Potter was met by a firm volley from Amanda Barr which flew just wide. Stoney almost caught out Byrne with a 30-yard effort which drifted just over the bar and Aluko sent an angled shot wide after more good play from Chapman.
Arsenal began to threaten again with Julie Fleeting seeing a shot charged down from Sanderson's low cross and the Scottish striker forced a fine save from Cope as she met Yvonne Tracy's centre with a downward header.
Smith produced a brilliant run which took her past three Charlton defenders before shooting straight at Cope but Arsenal grabbed the lifeline they craved with fifteen minutes left on the clock. After having been fouled, Ludlow's quickly taken free kick found Anita Asante whose pass was touched on by Smith for Fleeting to fire past Cope and bring her side back in the game.
There were a few nervous moments for Charlton after this point as Arsenal desperately sought an equaliser but the Addicks defence stood firm and they were unable to create any clear cut opportunities.
As the match went into injury time, Charlton continued to keep Arsenal at bay, although the Gunners had loud penalty appeals turned down as Potter challenged Fleeting in the area. That was the last chance for Arsenal, the final whistle blew just afterwards and Charlton had recorded what, for them, was a memorable victory.
Arsenal: Emma Byrne, Yvonne Tracy, Alex Scott, Jayne Ludlow. Mary Phillip, Faye White, Anita Asante, Kelly Smith, Lianne Sanderson, Julie Fleeting, Rachel Yankey. Subs: Ciara Grant (for Yankey 75 mins), Kirsty Pealling, Leanne Champ, Rachel McArthur, Sian Larkin.
Charlton Athletic: Pauline Cope, Casey Stoney, Michelle Hickmott, Maria Bertelli, Karen Hills, Katie Chapman, Sarah Snare, Eartha Pond, Eniola Aluko, Amanda Barr, Jo Potter. Subs: Ashlee Hincks (for Aluko 82 mins), Dominique Sinclair-Chambers, Ebony Cabey-Gooden, Georgie Adams, Faye Cardin.
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