By Adam Clark
Arsenal Ladies are just one game from completing an unblemished season but they left it late to defeat Everton in their first ever game at Emirates Stadium.
Vic Akers' side were dominant for large spells and twice led through Lianne Sanderson and Kelly Smith. But the visitors are still in with a shout of a European place and showed they were prepared to fight for the cause.
Level with four minutes remaining, it required a calm finish from Smith to snatch all three points. The Gunners now need just one more win - against Leeds United a week on Sunday - to complete the remarkable feat of a spotless campaign.
Faye White started for only the second time this season while Karen Carney represented the only other addition from Monday's FA Cup Final against Charlton Athletic.
And despite having lifted that trophy less than 48 hours earlier Arsenal's first serious attack brought their first Emirates goal. Alex Scott's cross from the right was cleared only as far as Katie Chapman, who lifted the ball back in for Sanderson to execute a clinical first-time volley.
When Rachel Yankey thumped the post soon after Sanderson looked set to tap in her second only to be denied by an excellent last-ditch tackle.
The goal allowed Arsenal to further dictate the pace of play and Emma Byrne was redundant for the most part. But on 31 minutes the Arsenal keeper found herself beaten for only the ninth time in the league this season. Everton's first corner of the match found England defender Rachel Unitt poised to plant a firm header into the net from six yards.
On the stroke of half time Sanderson again went close but saw her looping shot drop agonisingly past the post.
If the first half was bright from Arsenal, the opening stages of the second underlined their intent to go the season unbeaten. Having secured the quadruple on Monday it's the only challenge left before them.
And eight minutes after the break a superb individual strike from Smith put them back in front. The England striker hit her third in two games, cutting inside one defender, skipping past another and thundering home an unstoppable left-foot shot.
But resilient Everton came back again. A mishit cross into the Arsenal area brought an equaliser completely against the run of play. Byrne slipped as she came for ball and before she could get her bearings an unfortunate ricochet had taken it beyond her grasp.
Arsenal sensed that a draw would cast a small but unwanted shadow on their season and went in search of an immediate reply. Smith lifted one effort over the bar and Asante found the roof of the net from the edge of the box. However, when the two combined on 85 minutes hopes of a spotless record returned.
Asante burst down the right before teeing up Smith to slot past the Everton keeper. The striker almost added another in the final minute but it mattered little. Twenty-one league games down. Just one to go.
Lianne Sanderson on the attack
Sanderson nets our opener
Lianne gets the congratulations
Kelly Smith wraps up the points
Anita Asante lifts the title trophy
The Arsenal Ladies win "The Lot"!
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