By Declan Taylor
Departing duo Kelly Smith and Alex Scott both struck for Arsenal Ladies as Vic Akers' side romped to their 10th Women’s League Cup on Thursday night.
After hitting a first-half brace, Smith completed her hat-trick in style just after half time to put the Gunners firmly in the driving seat.
Fittingly, the pair, who will both join up with their new club Boston Breakers next week, combined wonderfully in the 66th minute as Scott grabbed Arsenal’s fourth.
And after a celebration of the 'past', there was a glimpse of the 'future' as debutant Suzanne Grant, on as a second-half substitute, added Arsenal’s fifth goal of the evening two minutes from time.
It is the Ladies’ third League Cup triumph in four years and their first silverware of the season with the FA Cup and League title still well and truly up for grabs.
Akers made one change to the side that despatched Leeds Carnegie in the FA Cup Quarter Final on Sunday, with injured captain Faye White replaced by Laura Basset. As a result, Jayne Ludlow, still waiting for her 200th Arsenal goal, took the armband.
She started in the centre of a midfield trio, flanked by Kim Little and Katie Chapman. Rachel Yankey and Gemma Davison supported Smith up front.
It took only six minutes for the departing striker to open the scoring but of her multitude of Arsenal goals, it was perhaps the scruffiest.
Little had coolly skipped past keeper Nicola Hobbs before rolling the ball towards the unguarded net. Smith however, keen to mark the occasion with a goal, nipped in to tap home from a yard out.
It really should have been two a couple of minutes later but Yankey, set up superbly by Davison, could only fire over with the goal at her mercy.
Just after the half-hour, Smith had Little to thank once again. The diminutive midfielder’s left-wing cross was brought down well by the striker who rode two challenges before slotting an effort into the far corner.
Doncaster had three gilt-edged chances to halve the arrears before half time but Arsenal - and Smith in particular - would make the Belles pay for their profligacy within 13 minutes of the restart.
The 30-year-old turned neatly on the edge of the area before lashing a fierce effort past the hapless Hobbs. A fine way to complete such a special hat-trick.
The script got even more perfect in the 66th minute when Scott, also Boston Breakers-bound, darted onto Smith’s through-ball before lifting her effort over the oncoming Hobbs.
It was fitting that, on a night punctuated by Arsenal departures, Akers handed debuts to two new arrivals.
First Grant, a recent acquisition from Hibernian, came on for Davison while Lauren Bruton replaced the hat-trick hero Smith.
Grant offered a glimpse of what’s to come from the new-look Ladies when she announced her arrival at the Club with an 88th-minute strike. The Scottish international latched on to a neat pass from Little and slid the ball home from just inside the area.
It was the perfect conclusion to an emotional evening.
- Scott Goal!
- Ludlow (C) Yellow Card
- Davison 77
- Smith 88 Goal! Goal! Goal!
- Suzanne Grant 77 Goal!
- Bruton 88
- Chelsea Weston
- Rachel Williams
- Clair Utley
- Exley (C)
- Johnson 88
- Vikki Stevens 77
- Claire Farrow
- Shaw 77
- Chadwick 88