By Isaac Moore at Meadow Park
Arsenal Ladies were consigned to their third league defeat in a row when they went down 2-0 at home to Bristol Academy on Sunday.
Sophie Ingle gave the Vixens the lead in the first half and Natalia Pablos Sanchon's low finish on the hour capped off another disappointing afternoon at Meadow Park for Arsenal.
SETTING THE SCENE
Shelley Kerr made three changes from the midweek defeat to Birmingham. Rachel Yankey was preferred to Freda Ayisi on the flank and Christie Murray made her first league start for the Gunners, replacing Jade Bailey in midfield. Niamh Fahey was also given a start ahead of Leah Williamson at the back.
A 14th FA Cup final was just one week away but Arsenal knew three points were a must before their focus could turn to Everton at Stadium MK.
The Gunners had mustered just one point from their opening three league games and knew anything but a win would see them remain at the foot of the table going into the mid-season break.
Arsenal started strongly and went close twice in the opening five minutes.
First Christie Murray swivelled on the edge of the box and shot straight at Mary Earps. Then Kelly Smith fed the overlapping Emma Mitchell but the Scot slipped at the vital moment and sent her effort into the side-netting.
Ten minutes later, Smith twisted into some space and unleashed a dipping strike which forced an athletic save from Earps.
But the visitors gradually grew in confidence and created their first real chance on 27 minutes when Pablos Sanchon saw a deflected shot bounce into the side-netting.
And in the 30th minute, Dave Edmondson's side were ahead. Brisol skipper Corrine Yorston combined with Natasha Harding before crossing to Ingle who turned home a first-time strike.
Arsenal were denied a penalty minutes later when Smith appeared to be tripped in the box, before Yankey volleyed wide from 18 yards.
Emma Byrne had to be alert to push over a speculative strike from Nikki Watts three minutes before half-time.
Arsenal were fortunate not to go further behind in the 53rd minute when Pablos Sanchon drifted in from the left and curled an effort onto the far post before Angharad James blazed the rebound over.
The Gunners continued to probe in search of an equaliser with Alex Scott and Williamson seeing efforts go off target. The next goal would prove crucial.
Unfortunately, it went to the visitors just before the hour mark. Watts was allowed to burst down the left channel unchallenged and her low cross found Pablos Sanchon who made no mistake with her finish, firing beyond Byrne.
Kerr brought on Ayisi and Caroline Weir in an attempt to find a way back into the game but Bristol were content to put 11 players behind the ball and catch Arsenal on the break.
And with six minutes to go, they nearly did. Watts shifted the ball to Laura del Rio and she found Pablos Sanchon, but the Spaniard sent her effort just wide of the far post.
Ayisi tried to conjure something for Arsenal with two efforts that flew wide and over before Murray had a shot cleared off the line in stoppage time.
But it was another disappointing day for the Gunners.
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