by Sylvain Jamet
Arsenal Ladies Centre of Excellence u17 side completed a club double over Aston Villa in the FA Youth Cup on Sunday, following in the footsteps of the men’s side triumph at Wembley.
Rianna Dean got a brace in the 2-1 win giving Arsenal Ladies u17 their second triumph in four seasons since the competition began.
— Arsenal Ladies (@ArsenalLadies) May 31, 2015
For this u17 final played at the DCS Stadium where Birmingham City Ladies used to play their FA WSL home games, both sides were deprived of their first team goalkeepers due to injury.
There was a strong wind that certainly helped the team with both sides enjoying that advantage in each half.
Arsenal were very quick out of the starting blocks with an attack in the second minute as left back Driscoll made a good run on her wing, she was tackled, Patten collected the second ball and sent a shot well held by Beattie.
Villa’s reply came three minutes later with a corner by Scott, the ball was cleared to Potts on the edge of the penalty area. Her shot went so wide that it was collected by winger who sent a dangerous cross but no one got a touch on it.
Arsenal started to dominate the game and enjoyed most of the possession with Villa playing on the break. First a corner reached Wubben-Moy but her shot went high and wide. Then an excellent through ball reached Dean who played as the lone striker but the Villa center back made an excellent last ditch tackle as the Arsenal forward was about to pull the trigger.
Arsenal’s passing and movement was clearly showing and Villa were only showing some sporadic attacks like the on in the thirteenth minute when Clarke went on a run from her left back position and delivered an excellent cross but no Villa forward managed to get a touch on it.
Villa’s best player, Rouse, had a few long range shots but none of them were dangerous enough to threaten Kelly in Arsenal’s goal. The game was quite even at this point with Arsenal making good use of the wings with Patten and Devlin on the right and Driscoll on the left. The main problem was there was not enough players in Villa’s penalty area to be on the receiving end of all the crosses.
The first serious incident came on the twenty fourth minute, when Dean was fouled in the penalty box as a Villa defender made a suspicious tackle that took her standing leg. The referee awarded a penalty before consulting her assistant referee and changed her decision to an offside. It was the correct decision as she certainly looked like she was three yards offside when the ball was sent to her.
Two minutes later, Arsenal were close to opening the scoring with a quality cross from Fyfe headed by Hooper and only a superb dive by Beattie prevented the ball from going in.
The opening goal did come soon enough, though. The ball was sent on the halfway line to Devlin, with her back to the goal and a defender tight on her, she managed to spin and send a delightful through ball to Dean who came in the penalty area and placed a sidefoot shot in the bottom corner.
1-0 to the Arsenal on the 33rd minute.
Right before the half time whistle, Arsenal were close to adding a second goal with Allen sending a dangerous cross in the six yards area but no one was able to apply the finishing touch.
At half time Arsenal were 1-0 up and deservedly in front with a lot of possession and creative attacking spirit. Only a little bit of clinical finishing was missing in the first 40 minutes.
Villa started the second half with the strong wind blowing in their favour and they came back with a strong intent. First a cross towards Hayes was totally miss-hit and her volley went straight to Scott who could not finish from eight yards. An early second-half goal would have certainly changed the dynamics of the game.
The next chances where all long range efforts from Rouse (twice) and Devlin but to no avail.
Then came the defining moment of the game. A back pass to Beattie was underhit and Dean managed to sneak in and go round the goalie. She calmly slotted the ball in the top corner for her second goal of the game in the 48th minute.
2-0 to the Arsenal, totally in control and looking good to do the double as they already won the league – unbeaten.
Villa were on top since the restart and the goal settle Arsenal’s nerves.
Arsenal carried on creating chances with a left wing run from Devlin, her cross reaching Allen who could not shoot properly under pressure. Allen was again the danger following a cross from Dean that was cleared to her on the edge of the penalty area. She managed to get a left footed shot but it lacked power and Beattie caught it.
The game reached 60th (games are only 80 minutes at u17 level) and both sides started to tire with Villa’s midfield totally stretched and struggling to close the holes in midfield. Both side were now finding more space to create chances.
We saw a long range shot from Arsenal’s Fyfe but it was not dangerous for Beattie. Then Shepherd put in an excellent cross for Scott but the Villa forward put the ball wide. Villa went close again with ten minutes to go with an almighty scramble in the Arsenal penalty area and the ball cleared on the goal-line. Hinds had come on as a sub and sent a free kick just above the crossbar as her shot did not dip enough. Then she sent another long range effort over the target.
Dean had another opportunity to close the game when the received the ball in the penalty area, back to the goal and with a midfield making a late run, she just needed to lay the ball off for a clear shot. She decided to hold it and ended up loosing it. Filbey was later on the receiving end of a Dean cross but she mis-kicked her volley.
The game was very much under Arsenal’s control when we entered the five added minutes of injury time.
With the last kick of the game Villa scored a consolation goal from a scramble in the penalty area – Shepherd scoring from close range. The referee gave the goal despite the protests from the Arsenal players as it looked like one of the forwards kicked the ball off Kelly’s hand while she had it under control on the floor.
It was the penultimate action of the game and the referee blew the final whistle after the kick off and Arsenal Ladies u17 deservedly won the FA Girls Youth cup 2014/15.
There are many talents in the side with 10 out of the 18 players involved with either the u16 or u17 England squads.
Hopefully we will see a few of those make it through to the first team in two or three seasons.
Aston Villa Ladies: 1. Chloe Beattie 12. Jenna Roberts 14. Shannon Roach 3. Zoe Clarke (cap) 16. Grace Smith 9. Nicola Potts 10.Mollie Rouse 11. Lucy Shepherd 15. Shania Hayles 7. Kamariah Scott 18. Robyn Tallis.
Substitutes: 17. Malikah Kahn 19. Sian Wilson 8. Ellie Bruton 6. Lucy Porter 2. Dani Farey 4. Kathryn Pagan 13. Phoebe Webster.
Arsenal Ladies: 13. Emma Kelly 2. Chiara Ritchie-Williams 3. Florence Fyfe 7. Anna Patten 6. Laura Hooper 8. Jessica Driscoll 10. Georgia Allen (cap) 12. Rianna Dean 15. Chloe Brunton-Wilde 17. Charlie Devlin 18. Lotte Wubben-Moy.
Substitutes: 11. Anna Filbey 4. Holly Greenwood 9. Tinaya Alexander 14. Taylor Hinds 16. Rachel Woods 5. Lucy Parker 1. Charley Beaumont.
The attendance was 420, a good figure that some FA WSL2 don’t often get for their home games.