By Andrew Crawshaw
The 50th playing of the final of the Women’s FA Cup was held at Wembley this Afternoon in front if a crowd of marginally over 50,000.
I was there along with Jon, my son and his daughter Josette. It was Jon’s first Arsenal Women’s game although we sit together at the Emirates when the men are centre stage.
The short version of this report is simple – we lost 3 – 0 and never looked like we were capable of winning. We were slow, ponderous and much of our passing was off kilter. In fact the margin of our defeat could easily have been much higher but for an outstanding display of goalkeeping by Manuela Zinsberger who made save after save.
Ok – now on to the slightly longer version.
At the back without the injured Leah Williamson we had Catley, Lotte Wubben-Moy, Jen Beattie and Noelle Maritz in front of Zinsberger.
In midfield we had our captain Kim Little, with Lia Walti and Frida Maanum
up front it was Vivianne Miedema flanked by Beth Mead and Katie McCabe
On the bench were Lydia Williams (GK), Anna Patten, Teyah Goldie, Simone Boye Sorensen, Viktoria Schnaderbeck, Jordan Nobbs, Mana Iwabuchi (min 61 for Lia Walti), Caitlin Foord (Min 70 for Jen Beattie) and Nikita Parris (min 80 for Maanum)
Erikson, Carter, Bright
Reiten, Leupolz, Ingle, Flemming
Cuthbert, Kerr, Kirby
We got off to the worst possible start allowing Kirby an early effort on goal which she gleefully took One nil to Chelsea after just three minutes. In the 7th minute Beth Mead picked up a yellow card for what I thought was a foul by a Chelsea player (the first of many, many decisions where I thought the referee was wearing a blue shirt). I was sat behind the Arsenal goal for the first half and had far too good a view of the proceedings as we faced wave after wave of Blue shirts. Fortunately for us Zinsberger was playing a blinder as she made save after save to keep the score to just the one goal. We started to come into the game a bit more towards the end of the half and at one point I wondered if there was a shout for a penalty but no replay was shown and I was 100 yards away. The referee continued to buy every Chelsea dive and ignored every push no matter how blatant. Very frustrating but at half time we were somehow still in the game only down by one goal.
We started better in the second half and I was able to see a little more of our attacking play, unfortunately our passing was still offend we weren’t able to cause the Chelsea defence any serious problems and then we were caught on the break and Chelsea doubled their lead Kerr too quick for our defence, turned Lotte and slotted in at the near post. Game over I said to Jon and Josette.
We brought on Mana Iwabuchi for Lia Walti to try and give us more control further up the pitch and Caitlin Foord for Jen Beattie without really changing the feel of the match. with just over 10 minutes to go Kerr broke free on the right hand side and scored by far the best of the three goals in the game with an excellent chip over Zinsberger. There were more substitutions but the game was over.
As I said in my match preview “Player attitude is the really key element to the game. Emma Hayes, the Chelsea Manager will undoubtedly have her team really fired up for this game and it will be vital for us to match their energy and speed from the start. All too often in recent years we have been dominated physically by Chelsea sometimes fairly, sometimes not (in my opinion). If we start positively, as we did in September then we have the players to hurt Chelsea”
A prescient statement. Chelsea were clearly fired up for the game They were first to every disputed ball, even if they had to bundle our player out of the way and were stronger and faster throughout. A bad day at the office for us and a good one for them.
Four finals I have now seen between Ourselves and Chelsea and the score in them is now 3 – 1 to them. To say they aren’t my favourite team is a total understatement!
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