by Andrew Crawshaw
The Women’s FA Cup reaches its 50th anniversary this year. It was first won in 1971 by Southampton who beat Scottish side Stewertom 4 – 1 in a game played at the Crystal Palace National Sports Arena (a 12 minute walk from my front door).
Southampton went on to dominate the early years of the competition winning 8 times in the first 11 years of it being contested and being the beaten finalists on a further two occasions. The last of their win came in 1981 when they beat St Helens 4 – 2.
Dominance then passed to Doncaster Belles who appeared in 11 finals up to the early 90’s winning 6.
Arsenal first won in 1993 and have now amassed 14 wins which exceeds that of all other clubs. Our last win was in 2016 when we beat Chelsea at Wembley, Danielle Carter scoring the only goal of the match with a wonderful right footed shot from the left corner of the 18 yard box into the top right corner of the goal. Since then we have reached the final once and the semi-final in the other years.
This year is somewhat unusual as this weekend’s game is for the competition which had a delayed start due to non-elite sport being suspended by the COVID lockdown. The early rounds are between clubs who are non-professional and so were unable to be played.
Our competition started in April with a 4th round tie against Gillingham. This game was a very one sided affair which we won by 10-0. A hat-trick from Jill Roord (mins 7, 21 and 42), a brace from Beth Mead (12 and 89) plus single goals from Kim Little, Viv Miedema, Anns Patten, Danielle Van de Donk and Jordan Nobbs showed the gulf in class between the two sides. I can remember not too long ago when we beat Spurs by the same score in a cup competition and they have now improved to mid-table in the WSL so I hope that Gillingham can follow a similar trajectory over the next few years.
The fifth round saw us play Crystal Palace from the Championship in Joe Montemurro’s last game in charge at the end of last season. This game wasn’t that dissimilar to the Gillingham game with us running out 9 – 0 winners. An early foray by Jordan Nobbs saw her brought down in the penalty area. Up stepped captain Kim Little and she did what she does so well and the back the net bulged. One – nil after six minutes. Beth Mead soon made it 2 – 0 and Danielle van de Donk in her last game for the club made it three on the stroke of half time. A second half brace from defender Noelle Maritz and singles from Jordan Nobbs, Viv Miedema, Jill Roord (also her last game for the club) and Katie McCabe took us through to the quarter final in the new season
The quarter final was against Tottenham on the 29th September and along with the whole crowd I was expecting comfortable progress only to be stunned when we failed to clear an early Spurs corner and finding ourselves a goal down in the very early stage of the game. Fortunately that seemed to wake us up and we were on equal terms in the 15th minute with Iwabuchi scoring from a Tobin Heath assist. This was Tobin’s first start for us. In the 30th Minute Lotte Wubben-Moy made a foray up from our defence to put us into the lead. Catlin Foord (34) and Nikita Parris (40) made the game safe before half time and Caitlin got her second and our fifth in the second half. Into the semi finals where we were joined by Chelsea, Man City and Brighton. The draw was kind to us and we got Brighton.
Brighton’s progress has seen them overcome:;-
- Round 4 – Brighton 1 – Bristol City 0
- Round 5 – Brighton 6 – Huddersfield 0
- Quarter Final – Brighton 1 – Charlton 0
There is little in recent history to suggest that Arsenal won’t progress to final at Wembley on December 5th. In the WSL we are unbeaten with 5 wins, having scored 19 goals and conceded 2, Brighton are in 5th place with 3 wins and 2 losses having scored 10 and conceded 5 goals so we tend to score twice as many and concede half as mane as they do. However, this is a cup tie and anything can happen in a one-off game.
A large portion of our squad have been away with their national teams. Whilst that is unlikely to be a big problem for those playing in Europe, our Australians have been in Sydney and Tobin Heath in the USA so their participation shouldn’t be expected except possibly from the bench. I am not aware of any injuries sustained by any of the squad. Vivianne Miedema took no part in the Netherlands game on Tuesday, I hope that was just to give her a rest.
Noelle Maritz, Leah Williamson, Lotte Wubben-Moy, Katie McCabe
Kim Little, Lia Walti, Mana Iwabuchi
Nikita Parris, Vivianne Miedema, Beth Mead
My prediction Arsenal 4 – Brighton 1
The game kicks off at 16:45 on this evening
Tickets are available from arsenal.com or on the gate at Meadow Part, Borehamwood and the game will be televised on BBC2 at 16:30 in the UK, so is bound to be available worldwide.
In the other semi-final Chelsea are away at Manchester City. City have been having a terrible season by their recent standards with only one win in the WSL so far, Chelsea have beaten everyone except us and are currently second in the table. The form book will have this one as a comfortable Chelsea win but City can’t continue to play as badly as they have so far and this could well be a chance for them to show some fight. I could well see this being a tight low scoring draw with City winning on penalties. Take your pick of these two options.
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