By Oliver Yew at Meadow Park
Arsenal Ladies booked their place in the final of the Continental Cup with a 3-1 win over Lincoln on Sunday.
In tricky conditions at Meadow Park, both sides struggled to settle in the opening stages. With the strong wind making life difficult for the players, the visitors started the better of the two sides and nearly took a shock lead.
Arsenal defender Gilly Flaherty failed to deal with Jess Clarke's teasing cross, allowing the ball to land at the feet of Lucy Staniforth with the goal at her mercy. The striker miscued her shot and the ball trickled behind.
However, it was not long before Laura Harvey's side settled into their rhythm and gained control of the match.
The home side threatened the Lincoln goal with Ellen White's shot cannoning back off the crossbar before Rachel Yankey's powerful free-kick produced a stunning save from a full-stretched Nicola Hobbs.
The pressure finally told in the 29th minute. Jayne Ludlow played the ball in behind the Lincoln defence for Houghton to race onto and fire past Hobbs to give the Gunners a deserved lead.
The home side soon doubled their advantage when White's cross found Carter unmarked on the edge of the six yard box. The young striker was left with the easiest of tasks to send her side in two goals to the good at the break.
Arsenal nearly extended their advantage straight after the interval when Ludlow's fierce strike looked to be heading for the top corner, only for the ball to agonisingly skim the top of the crossbar.
The hosts were now dominating the action and in full control of the game but a moment of inspiration from Allen to give the visitors a lifeline.
In the 64th minute, the midfielder picked the ball up after Rebecca Spencer's poor clearance and unleashed a stunning 35-yard strike which arrowed into the corner of the net leaving the Arsenal goalkeeper with no chance.
With just over 20 minutes left Lincoln sensed they could get something from the game - but the goal seemed to spark Arsenal back into life and it was not long before Harvey's side restored their two-goal advantage through Little's spectacular strike.
The Scottish international drove to the edge of the penalty area before hitting a curling shot beyond Hobbs just inside the far post.
The goal settled the nerves around Meadow Park as the Ladies closed the game out to seal a spot in the Continental Cup final and keep their treble bid well on course.
- Houghton Goal!
- Nobbs 75
- Little Goal!
- Carter 58 Goal!
- Beattie 58
- Chapman 75
Notts County Ladies
- Allen 80 Goal!
- Barker 80