Arsenal Ladies progressed to the Semi-Finals of the Women's League Cup by defeating Bristol City 5-0 on a cold, wet and windy Sunday afternoon at Boreham Wood FC.
The lower league side battled intrepidly and held the Cup holders until a minute before half time. But Vic Akers' side took control in the second period and eventually saw off the visitors with ease, courtesy of goals from Jayne Ludlow, Kelly Smith, Lianne Sanderson, Anita Asante and Ciara Grant.
Several hours of rain had made the pitch extremely slippery and that created problems for both sides. Certainly Arsenal found it difficult to exert their presence on the game at the start. Kirsty Pealling whipped in a seventh-minute free kick and Faye White failed to make contact at the back post. A few minutes later Sanderson almost curled in a corner directly. After clipping the near post it was frantically cleared from the line.
Bristol City enjoyed spells of possession in the first half, and created chances of their own. Keeper Emma Byrne needed to be on top form to cope with the conditions as shots skidded off the greasy pitch. But as the rain began to get worse, so Arsenal began to dominate more.Sanderson, Rachel Yankey and Smith were asking questions of the opposition defence. All three could have opened the scoring after a barrage of chances.
It was Ludlow who finally did it in the 44th minute, slipping the ball under the keeper after Gemma Davison had beaten the offside trap and squared the ball for her.
The second half was all about Arsenal. They dominated a tiring Bristol team and, this time, finished off their chances. On the hour, Smith cut inside from the left and was tripped in the box. She got up to the convert the spot-kick herself.
Ten minutes later Smith raced through again and rounded the keeper as she rushed from the box. Pushed out wide, the England international cut back inside before coolly crossing for Sanderson to have a simple tap-in.
Moments later Anita Asante got her goal with an easy finish after being played through by Ludlow. Grant, on for Sanderson, headed home a Smith corner in the final minute to finish the job for Arsenal. The only downside for Akers' side came when substitute Alex Scott was carried from the pitch after suffering an injury in added time.
Charlton and Doncaster are also in the Semi-Finals while the Quarter-Final between Sunderland and Everton was postponed at the weekend.