By Nik Brumsack at Meadow Park
Arsenal Ladies are in the Continental Cup final for the third successive year after seeing off Everton with a convincing performance at Meadow Park on Thursday night.
First-half strikes from the impressive Jordan Nobbs, Danielle Carter and Ellen White gave the Ladies a comfortable lead at the break before Steph Houghton made absolutely sure of progression 10 minutes after the restart.
Now all that stands between Shelley Kerr’s side and a third straight Continental Cup triumph are Lincoln Ladies, who defeated Liverpool on penalties in Wednesday night’s other semi-final.
But before they take part in that encounter, Kerr and company must focus on retaining the Women’s Super League and the boss will be hoping for a similar performance when her side take on tonight’s opponents at Meadow Park on Sunday.
Arsenal had returned to action in convincing fashion against Liverpool in the WSL on Saturday evening. They attacked with purpose, defended as a unit and manoeuvred the ball intelligently.
It was a performance that delighted Kerr and the Ladies head coach will no doubt have been similarly pleased with the way her team began here.
They took the lead just eight minutes in with a goal of real quality.
Yankey picked the ball up wide on the left, looked up and threaded a precise aerial pass into the path of the onrushing Nobbs, whose nonchalant first-time lob flew over a stranded Elizabeth Durack and in.
Lifted by the typically energetic Nobbs, the hosts continued to control proceedings. The midfielder fired over after 20 minutes, just after Carter and Yankey each came close to doubling the advantage.
But for all their dominance, Kerr’s side were almost pegged back midway through the first half when WSL top goalscorer Toni Duggan failed to connect with a dangerous Kelly Jones cross.
But despite two Michelle Hinnigan headers, Arsenal remained very much on top.
They extended their lead 10 minutes before the break and Yankey was again the architect.
From her position wide on the left, the winger released Carter with a searching ball. The pacy striker outfoxed Lindsay Johnson with a clever change of direction before smashing a shot into the roof of the net.
The Ladies’ first-half performance was a joy to watch and they added the third goal that their display merited just before the break.
Paige Williams misjudged the flight of Yankey’s pass and White took full advantage to continue her record of scoring in every Continental Cup game this season, cutting onto her left foot before firing a rasping shot in off the upright.
The Ladies secured their place in the final 10 minutes after the restart when Houghton turned home substitute Gemma Davison’s precise low cross.
With the game as good as won, Kerr took the opportunity to welcome Katie Chapman back to Meadow Park after the birth of her third child. Summer signing Caroline Weir was given a home debut late on and almost marked her introduction with a goal, heading Kim Little’s cross over from six yards out.
Everton introduced exciting prospect Nikita Parris in a late attempt to salvage a consolation but Emma Byrne’s goal would not be breached.
- Nobbs Goal!
- Houghton Goal!
- White 62 Goal!
- Carter 76 Goal!
- Yankey 46
- Weir 76
- Davison 46
- Chapman 62
- Freda Ayisi
- Chaplen 66
- Paige Williams
- Handley 66
- Duggan 80
- Whipp 66
- Magill 66
- Parris 80