By Max Jones at Adams Park
Arsenal Ladies were beaten 1-0 by Manchester City in the Continental Cup final at Adams Park on Thursday.The Gunners controlled proceedings throughout the first half and should have taken the lead before the interval, but Karen Bardsley did enough to keep them at bay.Arsenal were made to regret their missed opportunities with 18 minutes to play when Isobel Christiansen headed home from six yards to give City the lead.Steph Houghton’s free-kick then rattled the crossbar and Arsenal went close but City did enough to ensure a different team’s name would be on the trophy this year for the first time.
SETTING THE SCENE
Arsenal were appearing in their fourth consecutive Continental Cup final and were in the hunt for their fourth successive victory. The Gunners struggled in the Women’s Super League at the start of the season but rediscovered their form in this competition after lifting the FA Women’s Cup.Pedro Martinez Losa, chasing his first silverware with the club, made three changes to the side that beat Everton 3-1 on Sunday with Emma Byrne, Niamh Fahey and Yukari Kinga replacing Siobhan Chamberlain, Vyan Sampson and Jade Bailey.Manchester City, led by former Arsenal captain Steph Houghton, enjoyed a strong end to their league campaign as they looked to end the Gunners’ dominance in the competition.
Arsenal pressurised Manchester City into early mistakes and were nearly rewarded when Bardsley’s scuffed clearance fell to Rachel Yankey in the box, but England’s most-capped player uncharacteristically fired wide.The Gunners enjoyed plenty of possession throughout the first half and would have seen their dominance reflected in the scoreline if Shinobu Ohno and Fahey’s efforts had not deflected into Bardsley’s hands. City were riding their luck and could count themselves fortunate when Danielle Carter slipped past two defenders and saw her close-range strike beaten away by Bardsley.Arsenal called the England goalkeeper into action one more time before the break. Ohno’s cross found Yankey at the back post but her heavy touch allowed Bardsley to smother it and deny the Gunners a deserved lead.
City clearly used the break to rethink their gameplan and came out looking much more threatening. Duggan nearly latched onto a low cross before Houghton tested Byrne with a powerful 25-yard free-kick.Losa shuffled his deck on the hour mark but even Kelly Smith’s introduction could not prevent the newcomers from taking the lead. Krystle Johnston picked out Christiansen who headed in from close range with 18 minutes to go.Houghton then rattled the woodwork after Byrne pushed her effort on to the crossbar before Mitchell threw herself in front of Jill Scott’s rebound.Arsenal threw all they had at City in the final minutes, with Yankey, Nobbs and Freda Ayisi letting fly from long range, but Nick Cushing’s side held out to break the Gunners’ Continental Cup-winning streak.
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