By Max Jones at Meadow Park
Arsenal returned to their free-flowing best with a 2-0 win against Bristol Academy at Meadow Park on Wednesday.
It was the perfect way for the Gunners to respond to Pedro Martinez Losa’s call for more sharpness and claim their first Women’s Super League victory of the season.
Carla Humphrey swept in from close range to give Arsenal the lead before Vicky Losada scored her first goal for the club during a dominant first half.
Danielle Carter and Lianne Sanderson came close to increasing the Gunners’ advantage after the break as they built confidence and momentum ahead of Sunday’s massive clash at Manchester City.
SETTING THE SCENE
Losa made three changes to the side that lost 2-1 against Chelsea in the quarter-final of the FA Cup last Sunday.
Siobhan Chamberlain replaced Emma Byrne for her first appearance of the season, with Humphrey and Rachel Yankey also in the team.
Elsewhere, Jemma Rose started in an unchanged back four while Natalia Pablos Sanchon began the game on the bench against the duo’s former club.
This fixture last season saw Bristol record their first-ever win against the Gunners, and Pedro Martinez Losa’s side would be hoping to bounce back from their FA Cup exit to avoid another shock defeat this time around.
Arsenal made up for Sunday’s uncharacteristically sluggish performance with a bright start against the Vixens, and Carter was unlucky to see her sweeping strike cleared off the line in the opening exchanges.
However, the Gunners only needed two more minutes to stamp their mark on the tie. Carter won the ball in Bristol’s box and centred to Humphrey who smashed past Mary Earps from six yards.
Losa’s side looked eager to make amends for their FA Cup exit and their efforts were soon rewarded with a second goal. Emma Mitchell’s deep delivery was headed back across goal by Alex Scott and Losada sent a half-volley into the top corner.
Bristol did threaten before the break. Nadia Lawrence rifled towards goal from far and then near, but neither of her powerful strikes troubled Chamberlain.
Arsenal continued their dominance after the break and could have had a third just minutes after the restart, but Jordan Nobbs sent her 25-yard volley just over the crossbar.
Bristol tried to gain a foothold in the game when Sophie Ingle and Lawrence lashed half-volleys towards goal, but Chamberlain was well placed to maintain the Gunners’ lead.
The game opened up as the visitors sought a way back into the game and Arsenal nearly took advantage. Carter combined brilliantly with Scott and the forward beat Earps before sending a low strike into the side netting.
Substitute Sanderson was behind the Gunners’ final chances. First her volley was saved by Earps before the goalkeeper pushed the England forward’s header to Carter, who headed the rebound against the post as Arsenal cruised to their first win of the season.
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