By Oliver Yew

Arsenal Ladies manager Laura Harvey praised her side’s battling qualities after getting their FA Women’s Super League off to a winning start.

The Gunners earned a hard fought 1-0 victory over Chelsea in front of a record crowd of 2,510 at Tooting and Mitcham’s Imperial Fields.

Defender Gilly Flaherty got the only goal of the game as both sides struggled to find a rhythm on what was a difficult pitch to play on.

But despite picking up the three points Harvey said her team were disappointed with their performance.

“Performance-wise we are a little bit disappointed,” she said. “The pitch wasn’t great and it plays a part in how we want to play.

“We couldn’t really get the ball down and play today which was a little bit disappointing but we are just pleased to get the three points.”

Harvey was particularly pleased with the strong character shown by the team in south London and insists it is something they have been working on.

She said: “In the past battling hard for the three points is something we haven’t had to do so we have to try and work on that as much as we can. Being in the Champions League has enabled us to have competitive games to work on it.

“You are playing against teams in the Champions League who are as good as you so we have had to prove that already in Europe this season. We will have to do that again on Saturday when we play Lyon in the semi-final.”

After getting their domestic campaign off to a good start Arsenal now turn their focus back to European action.

The Gunners have to overturn a two-goal deficit against Lyon at Boreham Wood on Saturday to have a chance of progressing through to the Champions League Final, which will be held at Fulham’s Craven Cottage in London.

Harvey knows the tie will be difficult but she has virtually a full squad to pick from after no injuries were picked up against Chelsea.

She said: “We were glad to get through without too many injuries and hopefully we can go for it on Saturday. We have got a full squad back and we can really show Lyon what we are really about.

“For 70 minutes last Saturday we did that but in the first 20 minutes we let ourselves down so hopefully we can put that right this weekend.”

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14 Apr 2011