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Arsenal 1 (Smith 72) Everton 0
att: 1,494; at Macclesfield Town F.C.
A moment of class from Kelly Smith proved to be the difference as Arsenal successfully defended the FA Women's Community Shield in an entertaining game at Moss Rose.
The Gunners narrowly had the edge over the whole game but there was plenty of encouragement for Everton sa they seek to close the gap between themselves and the reigning Champions this season.
Arsenal manager Vic Akers gave a competitive debut to new signing Laura Bassett in defence alongside Yvonne Tracy with Faye White missing through a knee injury. With Julie Fleeting also out injured, Gemma Davison was given a start up front. Everton meanwhile fielded youngster Toni Duggan on the right in place of broken leg victim Jody Handley and Rachel Unitt partnered Lindsay Johnson in the centre of defence.
Arsenal made a bright start to the game and dominated the early possession, winning a number of corners and inflicted pressure on the Everton defence.
However the first clear opportunity of the game came at the other end in the 12th minute as Natasha Dowie worked her way into the area and cut the ball back into the path of Jo Potter whose right foot shot was saved by Emma Byrne.
Rachel Brown was unable to hold a low Rachel Yankey cross under pressure from Karen Carney, however Rachel Unitt was on hand to avert any danger by hooking the ball clear. There was a scare meanwhile for Arsenal at the other end as a sloppy pass from Jayne Ludlow was intercepted by Dowie but the Everton striker shot wide.
Alex Scott saw a shot charged down following good work from Carney and Kelly Smith, who later sent in a shot which deflected off Lindsay Johnson and looped narrowly over the bar.
Gemma Davison was almost let in as Unitt missed her kick on the edge of the area but the defender recovered well to prevent her by blocking the resulting shot. A mistake at the other end then led to an Everton chance, Potter intercepting a loose pass but she dragged her left foot shot wide.
Everton had a great chance to take the lead during first half injury time as Jill Scott slid a neat pass into the path of Toni Duggan who battled her way past two defenders but her shot went past the far post with only Byrne left to beat.
Kelly Smith fired a shot over the bar from 25 yards in the opening minute of the second half whilst Williams was narrowly off target from a similar range at the other end. Carney was next to go close, a sharp drive which flew inches past the post.
Arsenal had stepped up the pace after the interval and they produced their best opportunity to date, a pinpoint cross from Alex Scott picking out Ludlow who sent a free header wide of the goal. It took an excellent save from Brown to keep Everton on terms, at the feet of Carney as she looked poised to score from Davison's low centre. Back came Everton and Emily Westwood's lay off released Dowie in the area where she shot wastefully over the bar.
The deadlock was broken in the 72nd minute as Ludlow clipped a excellent pass over the Everton defence, Brown came off her line to deny the onrunning Carney but Everton could not clear their lines and Smith coolly lobbed the ball into the net from 25 yards.
Everton tried to hit back quickly but a swift counter attack almost led to Arsenal scoring a second. Davison broke down the right and sent over a fine cross for Yankey who volleyed wildly over the bar when well placed. More good work from Davison saw her slide a good pass through to Kim Little in the area where her shot was blocked by Becky Easton.
With Bassett enjoying a good debut and Gilly Flaherty looking very impressive at left back, Arsenal ensured there were no late scares to record their fifth Shield success - in the eight years that the match has been contested, the Community Shield has still never been won by a team from outside of London.
Arsenal: Emma Byrne, Alex Scott, Yvonne Tracy, Jayne Ludlow, Gilly Flaherty, Ciara Grant, Kelly Smith (sub Kim Little 74 mins), Gemma Davison, Karen Carney, Rachel Yankey. Subs: Rebecca Spencer, Natalie Ross, Dani Bird, Faye White.
Everton: Rachel Brown, Becky Easton, Rachel Unitt, Fara Williams, Emily Westwood (sub Michelle Hinnigan 80mins), Lindsay Johnson, Toni Duggan (sub Isobelle Christiansen 89mins), Jill Scott, Natasha Dowie, Jo Potter (sub Karen Boyle 63mins), Michelle Evans. Subs: Danielle Hill, Amy Cleaver-Kane.
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