By Emmet McEvoy
Arsenal Ladies sealed their place in the semi-finals of the Continental Cup with an entertaining 4-2 win against Bristol Academy on Sunday.
The Ladies led through Ellen White but goals from Nicola Watt and Ellen Curson gave the visitors a half-time advantage.
Early strikes in the second half from Jordan Nobbs and Danielle Carter restored the lead and a late effort from Kim Little secured the victory.
Shelley Kerr made three changes to the team that drew with Lincoln on Wednesday night. Rebecca Spencer replaced Emma Byrne in goal and Yvonne Tracy partnered Jennifer Beattie in central defence. With Steph Houghton reverting to full-back, Jade Bailey was given her full debut in midfield alongside Little and Nobbs. Gemma Davison and Carter were on the wings with White in attack.
After a scrappy opening 10 minutes, the hosts had the first chance. Little exchanged passes with White on the edge of the box before driving a shot across goal and wide.
A few minutes later Carter dragged a shot wide before Bailey also missed the target from 20 yards.
The Ladies made the early pressure count when they took the lead after 25 minutes. Nobbs received the ball in midfield and played a lovely pass to release White. The England international took a touch before sliding the ball past Bristol goalkeeper Siobhan Chamberlain for her seventh goal of the season.
It seemed like they would push on from there but in fact they were pegged back almost immediately.
It was a goal of their own undoing. A long kick by Chamberlain wasn’t dealt with and Watts’ superb volley from the edge of the box gave Spencer no chance.
That woke the visitors up and they should have taken the lead when Watts found herself free in the box but she fired over from 10 yards.
Moments later Arsenal responded with a chance of their own. Davison drove to the byline and cut the ball back to Little but the recently-crowned PFA Player of the Year sliced her shot over the bar.
That miss looked costly moments later when the visitors took the lead. In almost identical circumstances to the first goal, Arsenal failed to clear the ball in their own box and Curson’s precise lob left Spencer stranded.
The Ladies began the second half in well and levelled the match just four minutes after the interval. Davison’s low cross from the left found Nobbs who finished low to the keeper’s right from six yards.
Five minutes later they retook the lead when Little lofted the ball into the path of Carter. She took a touch and drove a powerful shot into the roof of the net from an acute angle.
The Gunners were rampant and, soon after, White was inches away from getting on the end of an excellent cross by Nobbs.
With 20 minutes remaining substitute Rachel Yankey, making her first appearance in four games, had an effort well saved by Chamberlain.
She came close again five minutes later but her shot from the edge of the box was deflected inches wide.
The Ladies put the result beyond doubt with eight minutes left. It was an excellent goal, involving good build-up play between Houghton, Nobbs and Davison, which ended with the latter crossing for Little to finish emphatically.
The Ladies now head to Doncaster next Sunday for the FA Cup final, where they will take on Bristol again.
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