Everton Ladies v Arsenal Ladies
Everton Ladies were denied FA Women’s Cup glory after they lost 2-0 to Arsenal in the final on Sunday afternoon.
A peach of a free-kick from Kelly Smith, along with a goal from Yukari Kinga, meant the Blues were unable to mirror their 2010 Cup final victory over the Gunners.
Included in the starting eleven four years ago was trio Rachel Brown-Finnis, Lindsay Johnson, and Michelle Hinnigan who also featured in Andy Spence’s starting line-at Stadium MK.
Both sides were welcomed with an array of fireworks, an electric atmosphere and a 15,000 crowd for the eagerly-anticipated final clash.
And just like the pyrotechnics, Everton started the game in blazing fashion.
With barely a minute on the clock, from the halfway line Brooke Chaplen played the tidiest of through balls into the path of Nikita Parris, who beat the Arsenal full-back for pace before firing over from a tight angle.
But Everton knew not to take their opponents lightly despite Arsenal currently being bottom of the
WSL, who were targeting their record breaking 13th FA Cup win.
And after early warning signs from Rachel Yankey who was denied by the goal frame, Arsenal took the lead through a spectacular free-kick from Smith.
The Gunners captain bent an effort into the top left hand corner of the net after being fouled on the edge by Alex Greenwood to give Arsenal the initiative on 14 minutes.
But although a goal down, Spence’s side didn’t let their heads drop and continued to pressurise Arsenal’s goal.
The combination of Chaplen and Hinnigan in the centre of the park combined well to force through Arsenal’s defence on occasions in the first 45.
Chaplen herself moved into space in the centre before releasing a venomous effort that Arsenal’s Emma Byrne did well to save.
As referee Martin Atkinson blew the whistle to mark the opening for the second half, Everton knew how big the next 45 minutes would be for their FA Cup hopes.
However, in almost identical fashion to her goal, Smith again from the edge fired a looping effort towards the top corner from open play. Fortunately for Everton, this time it struck the post.
Arsenal then doubled their lead on the hour mark, and Smith again played her part in the build up to the goal.
The Arsenal captain shrugged off Gabby George before laying the ball off to Kinga who rolled her shot into the bottom right-hand corner of the net.
The superb reactions of Brown-Finnis denied Kinga a second shortly after with England’s number one palming away a ferocious effort from the Arsenal goalscorer.
A deep free-kick from Michelle Hinnigan found its way to Parris at the back post late onbut the Blues forward could only direct her header wide to sum up the day for Everton, who unfortunately couldn’t repeat their heroics in the previous rounds on this occasion.