By Tom Bennett at Meadow Park
Arsenal Ladies secured a resounding 3-0 victory over Chelsea in their final group stage match of the FA WSL Continental Cup on Sunday afternoon to progress to the semi-finals for a second consecutive year.
A fine long-range strike from Jordan Nobbs gave the home side the advantage on 14 minutes, before a second-half penalty from Kim Little and a Jennifer Beattie header completed a win that went some way to banishing the demons of last month’s FA Cup semi-final exit to the Blues.
After four straight games on the road, Laura Harvey’s team marked their return to Boreham Wood FC with a fine performance, taking advantage of a re-laid surface to move the ball around smartly and dominate large sections of the game.
Possession did not initially translate to chances with play focused in the middle of the park, but with their first shot on target the Gunners were ahead.
Nobbs found herself with space 25 yards from goal, steadied herself and curled the ball beyond Carly Telford’s outstretched lunge and into the left-hand corner of the net.
The England youth international went close to making it two moments later with a near identical strike. But this time the ball curled back in towards the keeper, who grabbed it gratefully.
In a sometimes quiet first period Arsenal continued to probe for a second, and five minutes before the break they almost had one. First through Little who, clean through on goal, attempted to jink past the Chelsea keeper Telford. Then via Danielle Carter, who latched onto the ensuing loose ball but was frustrated from close range.
The game opened up in the second half with Chelsea, in need of three points to ensure qualification to the knockout stages, in search of goals.
It was Arsenal who took advantage of their visitors’ new approach though and chances abounded for the home side.
Gemma Davison stung the palms of Telford with a fierce low drive soon after the restart. Moments later Little broke free of the Chelsea backline to hit the side-netting.
Arsenal’s pressure was rewarded in the form of a penalty on 58 minutes, with Drew Spence adjudged to have handled. Top scorer Little calmly converted to double Arsenal’s lead.
With 10 minutes to play Beattie sealed things, rising highest from a corner to head past Telford and, despite a last-ditch attempted clearance, just over the line.
The result made for a contented Laura Harvey: “We are pleased with the result and it was another clean sheet," she told Arsenal.com. "I didn’t think we played that well in the first half but we kept the ball a better in the second half and over the 90 minutes I am pleased with the 3-0 victory.
“This competition is up there and it probably takes more of a priority than it maybe did before because of the way we were disappointed with our FA Cup [exit].”
The Gunners now face Bristol Academy for a place in the final of the competition, and the chance to reclaim the trophy, and Harvey was upbeat about her team’s chances.
“We played Bristol away last week in the league and managed a 3-0 win in what was probably one of our best performance of the season so far," she said.
"Both sides like to play football and, while I'm sure Bristol will be looking to turn things around from that last meeting, we're confident we can do enough to get to the final."
- Beattie Goal!
- Little Goal!
- Nobbs Goal!
- Carter 66
- Davison 84
- Hayley Ladd
- Bragg 84
- White 66
- Ingle Yellow Card
- Sherwood 69
- Coombs 35
- Buet Yellow Card
- Spence 35
- Longhurst 69