by Andrew Crawshaw
My prediction for the starting line-up of the team wasn’t right.
The actual line-up was
- GK – Sari Van Veenendaal
- Right Back and Captain Alex Scott
- Centre Backs – Emma Mitchell and Farah Williams
- Left Back Casey Stoney
- Midfield – Vicky Losada, Natalia Pablos Sanchon and Marta Corredera
- Attack – Gemma Rose, Danielle Van De Donk and Asisat Oshoala
Subs were Emma Byrne (GK), Jordan Nobbs (MF), Katie MCCabe (wing), Dan Carter (attack), Dominique Janssen (MF), Kelly Smith (forward), Chloe Kelly (forward)
The Sunderland Team
Laws (GK), Mead, Chaplen, Ramshaw, Roche, Furness, William, McDougal, Sharp, Bannon (c), Brown.
Bench Olssen, Holmes, Hill, Joice and Potts
Arsenal got off to a flying start attacking down the right hand side, an effort in the first minute was cleared, but we recycled the ball and pressed again. A cross towards an attacker at the back post was headed by the Sunderland captain Bannon but it flew straight into the top left hand corner of the net. One-nil to Arsenal in the second minute. Sunderland must have been having a sense of deja view as they lost at Borehamwood by seven nil in the FA Cup earlier in the season.
On 19 minutes Oshoala put in a wicked cross from the right byeline and Bannon again got the wrong contact on the ball and turned it in for a second own goal. Again she needed to intercept as there was an Arsenal player right behind her looking for an easy tap in but her contact wasn’t right.
Arsenal were totally dominant at this time and were causing havoc with attack after attack down the right, Oshoala terrorising the left back who had no answer for her pace or skills. It was no surprise when another cross from the right was met by Natalia for the third goal.
In minute 39 Natalia got her second with a solo effort from outside the penalty area and a fantastic shot into the bottom left hand corner of the goal. Again Laws in the Sunderland goal was given no chance.
Oshoala picked up an injury towards the end of the half and was clearly in difficulty. To me it looked to be the result of a foul, but not given by the officials.
A dominant half by Arsenal ended with us leading by 4 goals to nil. The only moments we had being a couple of times when Sari van Veenendaal’s clearances weren’t terribly brilliant. She is, in most areas, a terrific goalkeeper but occasionally the insistence on playing the ball to a defender rather than kicking it longer really leaves my heart in my mouth. Against better attackers she is liable to get caught out I fear.
Goalmouth action from the first half, this one ended as a free kick to Sunderland.
Sunderland made a change at the start of the second half with Hill replacing McDougall and Arsenal were forced into a change immediately after when Oshoala was unable to continue following her first half injury. McCabe came on to replace her. This change was unfortunate as Oshoala had been brilliant in the first half.
Unsurprisingly, the second half was less eventful than the first, Arsenal remained in full control of the game but rarely threatened to add to the scoreline. Bannon made up for her first half own goals with an excellent goal line clearance to deny the hat-trick for eother herself or Natalia, whose shot she cleared.
Further changes for Arsenal saw first Alex Scott replaced by Chloe Kelly in Minute 66 and then Farah Williams by Dominique Janssen in Minute 71.
Dominique didn’t take long to enter the action with a 30 yard thunderbolt in the 80th minute. The shot took a deflection off a Sunderland player who was nearly knocked out. Five nil, would we match the seven from the cup game?
Unfortunately the answer was no. We seemed to go into cruise control and lost concentration, Sunderland to their credit continued right to the end, Stephanie Roach had a shot come back off the crossbar with Sari well beaten and right at the end England forward Beth Mead, scored from a tight angle with an excellent finish to get a consolation goal for Sunderland.
Natalia was named player of the match and the official attendance was 804.
A thoroughly deserved victory and three very necessary points lifting Arsenal to fourth in the table on 10 points, one behind Birmingham who have played an extra game. Manchester City remain top on 19 points.
Our next game is on Wednesday next week 19:45 kickoff against Birmingham. That game is live on BT Sport in the UK so no excuses not to watch.
After that we get our defence of the Continental Tyres Cup under way with an afternoon kickoff against Reading at the Hive stadium Barnett on 02 July. This is the second of a double header. Barnet take on Chelsea at 14:00, and we kick-off at 17:00. One ticket gets you in to both games, should be a good afternoon for anyone wanting to get a fix of live football as an antidote to the Euro’s. The Continental Cup is ‘our’ cup, we have only lost one game in it when we lost in the final the season before last.
I won’t be in a position to see either game as I’m crossing Germany on a river cruise so if someone else fancies writing a report I’m sure Tony would be delighted.
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