By Max Jones
Arsenal Ladies secured their place in a fourth successive Continental Cup final after beating Notts County 2-0 at Meadow Park on Sunday.
The Gunners were taken to extra-time by a well-drilled Lady Pies side who had frustrated them in their two previous encounters this season.
The deadlock was broken when Caroline Weir struck her first goal of the season in the 99th minute, looping her 20-yard effort over Carly Telford before Kelly Smith converted a penalty to set up a final against Manchester City.
SETTING THE SCENE
Player-coach Smith made no changes to the Gunners side that slipped to a narrow 3-2 defeat against Chelsea at Meadow Park on Thursday.
This semi-final was a repeat of last year's final where Arsenal ran out 2-0 winners, but the Lady Pies have held them to two 1-1 draws since.
A victory would take the Gunners into a fourth successive final, hoping to win the competition for an unprecedented fourth time.
Despite Arsenal's familiarity to this stage of the competition, they looked nervous and sloppy as they uncharacteristically misplaced passes in the opening 15 minutes.
Notts County failed to capitalise, though, and soon found themselves breathing a sigh of relief. First Danielle Carter blazed over from six yards before her cross curled onto the post two minutes later.
Then, after the Gunners finally looked settled on the ball and in control of the game, Leah Williamson found Carter whose shot stung Telford's palms in the 29th minute.
The visitors' defence was organised and could just about cope with Carter, who sliced wide under pressure after 43 minutes before Rachel Yankey's effort was blocked as the sides went into the break goalless.
Arsenal came back out with more of the same attacking intent as Carter tested Telford from range before Yankey curled wide three minutes into the half.
Smith was introduced with 17 minutes remaining but even she struggled to break down the Lady Pies' resilience. She did expertly play in Williamson to tap into the net but it was disallowed after the teenager had handled the ball.
County then had the chance to nick it with a minute remaining but Emma Byrne responded well, holding Katie Hoyle's powerful strike to take the sides into extra time.
Again Arsenal flew out after the interval. This time Telford beat away Smith's drive before collecting Williamson's long-range attempt.
And then the goal finally came. Smith drove down the left to find Weir, who looped her strike over the Lady Pies goalkeeper.
Smith then converted a penalty to give the Gunners a shot at a fourth successive Continental Cup trophy.
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