By Laura Knight at Meadow Park
Jennifer Beattie's stunning long-range strike saw Arsenal Ladies put the disappointment of Saturday’s Champions League exit behind them and secure a 1-0 victory over Bristol Academy on Thursday night.
In their first home game of the inaugural WSL campaign, Arsenal were frustrated by a solid Bristol defence who were full of confidence after reaching the FA Cup Final last Sunday.
Rachel Yankey thought she had broken the deadlock on 19 minutes when she tapped in following Danielle Carter’s shot, only to be given offside, and Katie Chapman was unlucky to see her effort from the edge of the box hit the crossbar.
With time running out and the tension building, Beattie found space in the final third and struck a fierce right-footed shot from 30 yards past Siobhan Chamberlin to secure the three points and maintain Arsenal's winning start to the season.
“I’ve not scored a goal that good in a while,” said Beattie. “I don’t know what I was thinking; I just had the ball at my feet and decided to strike it. I saw Kate’s effort earlier and saw that it was moving quite a lot in the air so I just went for it and thankfully it went in.”
Arsenal Ladies manager Laura Harvey was also pleased with the result and praised her team for coping with the loss of Faye White early in the game after the defender limped off inside the first 20 minutes.
“It was a close game,” said Harvey. “I thought it was going to take a goal like that in the end to split the two teams."
She continued: “Faye’s injury is potentially a bad one. We can assess it overnight and in the morning and then get a true reflection of how bad it actually is.
"To lose your captain so early on was disappointing but it shows the strength we’ve got that we can bring on a player like Gilly Flaherty who can play as well as she did.”
The two teams could also meet in the FA Cup Final should Arsenal beat Barnet in their Semi Final but Harvey is not getting too carried away yet.
She said: “We're not looking that far ahead, we’ve got to take every game as it comes and we’ve got to get past Barnet first.
"We’ll play Bristol again in the middle of May whether we get to the Final or not but it’s a great achievement for Bristol to reach the final and we hope we can get there too."
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