By Laura Knight at Meadow Park
Arsenal Ladies battled their way to a 3-0 victory over Chelsea Ladies on Thursday night thanks to two incredible goals from substitute Danielle Carter.
The London rivals could not be separated in an evenly-matched first half but Rachel Yankey eventually made the breakthrough on 65 minutes with a low, hard shot that goalkeeper Carly Telford could not keep out.
Carter made it two eight minutes later with a contender for Goal of the Season, firing a half-volley high into the top-left corner after Kim Little found her in space following a fantastic run through the middle of the Chelsea defence.
Carter then wrapped up the points in the 83rd minute, striking the ball straight down the middle of the goal from 20 yards to cap off an impressive win for Arsenal against one of their biggest rivals for the WSL title.
The Ladies are now seven points clear of Chelsea and lie in second place in the table, four points behind leaders Birmingham City with a game in hand.
Despite a strong finish, Laura Harvey’s side almost found themselves behind inside the first two minutes when Claire Rafferty picked out Helen Lander at the back post, but the former Arsenal player sent her header bouncing off the bottom of the post before it was eventually cleared to safety.
As the game progressed, Arsenal began to dominate possession and had several chances to take the lead. Midway through the first half neat footwork from Jordan Nobbs, Ellen White and Steph Houghton down the right wing allowed Nobbs space to find Julie Fleeting in the box but her flick towards goal was halted by Telford.
“We said at half time that the tempo we were playing at wasn’t good enough and that we had to make it better in the second half which I think we did once we had scored," Harvey told Arsenal.com after the match.
“We’re a bit of a confidence team, once we get a goal we start to believe a little bit more and we’ve got to change that because you can’t always rely on the fact that you’re going to score the first goal.
“There are still things to work on. We’re not pleased with the performance but massively pleased with the result.”
Arsenal won the midfield battle and Little played an instrumental part once again with her driving runs through the centre causing Chelsea countless problems.
Once the deadlock had been broken, Arsenal stepped up a level and started to control the game, allowing Little even more time and space to wreak havoc in the Chelsea defence.
Harvey said: “Not many teams in the league can match our midfield, when they play well and they perform, no-one can live with them. I think at times tonight they did that, at times Chelsea played well and defended well against us but in the end we had that little bit of quality that you need to win football matches."
Two-goal hero Carter concluded: “We were worried for a while that we might not find the breakthrough but once we got the first we knew we would push on and make it count.
“It was really good to get on the scoresheet. I haven’t scored in quite a while so to get two and also help the team to a 3-0 win in a London derby is pretty great.”
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