Everton Ladies ended Arsenal’s two year run without defeat by winning the League Cup Final 1-0 at Brisbane Road.
Everton began the first half well with some bright passing throughout the midfield and it became clear from the outset that as soon as Everton lost the ball, the 4-5-1 formation set out to deny Arsenal’s England wingers Carney and Yankey any time to run at them and get the ball to Kelly Smith – who is regarded by many as the best female player in the World at present.
When Everton did get forward, however, they looked like they could hurt the Arsenal back four, one such moment early in the game saw the energetic Jill Scott cut in from the right and cut the ball back wonderfully for Amy Kane to score from the right of the box. Surely this would shock last season's quadruple winners into action?
From then on in the first half, the ladies seemed happy to get bodies behind the ball and rely on long balls up to Natasha Dowie (Ian’s niece – but thankfully no resemblance) who played very much in the kind of role Andy Johnson occupied for the early part of last season to chase.
Ball after ball was played into the Everton area; Karen Carney and Smith had great chances for Arsenal saved by Danielle Hill, deputising for the injured England international Rachel Brown in goal. At this time it seemed it was only a matter of time until Arsenal would level, with the blues being forced deeper and deeper into their own half and a few shaky moments at the back, notably when ‘keeper Hill, excellent all night seemed as though she was about to fumble a looping Yankey cross into her own goal only to recover and make a last ditch grab.
Amy Kane's seventh-minute strike proved enough for Everton
However, Arsenal's best chance came when Smith lobbed the ball over Hill in the Everton goal from the angle of the penalty box, who had come out to block an Arsenal shot, only for the retreating Easton to head the ball up and onto the bar from on the line.
In fact, from then on, Arsenal were reduced to long shots and balls into the box that were comfortably dealt with, especially by Everton’s imposing centre-halves, Westwood and Johnson, who won almost every ball at the back, and it was Everton who had the last real chance before half time when Fara Williams who broke up play in front of the back four all night, delivered a pin-point ball that Dowie could only head over.
It was Dowie again who should have scored after an hour, Williams delivered a fantastic ball over the top and springing the offside trap the Everton striker guided her shot too close to Arsenal ‘keeper Byrne. At this point for those who have watched Everton Ladies over the last few years you would have been forgiven for thinking ‘here we go again’ – however this season, it seems things are different.
Arsenal had a great deal of possession without really hurting Everton, who — though they sat deeper and deeper throughout the game — still carried a real threat on the break. Each time balls were thrown in, a blue shirted player managed to get body in the way, time and time again – on the odd occasion that they did switch off or Arsenal did have a set-piece around the box, the Gunners' shooting was at best wayward. The last chance for Arsenal fell to striker Julie Fleeting.
As the whistle blew, the ecstatic players celebrated wildly — and
deservedly so, well done to the ladies, who few could begrudge
earned the win — before the game, they were some 13/1 outsiders to
|Everton fans' reports|
|Other media reports|
|Dowie (72' Duggan)|
|Subs not used|
|Sanderson (64' Grant)|
|Subs not used|