The Arsenal Ladies Development Team have reached the FA WSL Development League Cup final for the second season in a row and the third time in the Cup’s four years existence.
The team, now managed by the Arsenal Ladies Legend Kelly Smith, overcame a tough opponents in Sunderland Ladies and can be thankful that Sian Rogers had an outstanding game between the posts to keep the game at 0-0. Sunderland created many chances but could not go past her.
Kelly selected the following starting 11:
Sian Rogers; Shannon Cooke, Chiara Ritchie-Williams, Kalani Peart, Taylor Hinds; Chloe Brunton-Wilde, Laura Hooper, Anna Patten; Anna Filbey, Rianna Dean, Jessica N’Gunga. All the available substitutes were used Tinaya Alexander and Gabriel Clarke
Anna Patten, playing in an unusual attacking midfielder position after playing in defence for England from last week at La Manga, scored from a second-half corner that was not punched far enough by the Sunderland goalkeeper. The ball was loose in the penalty area, where Anna Filbey passed it to Patten, who finished with a powerful shot.
Rianna Dean scored the second goal following a mazy run on the left by Jess N’Gunga who beat three defenders before putting a pinpoint cross for Dean to control, go round her defender and finish with a precise shot.
The game was really entertaining as both sides created many chances and it could have gone either way. As already mentioned, Sian Rogers kept the team in the game, especially in the first half when Sunderland were coming in waves at the Arsenal goalkeeper.
Arsenal took more control in the second half and scored a crucial goal from a set piece after missing a couple of great chances.
Overall, it was a superb attacking display by the team but there is some work to be done on the defensive side, especially when the ball is lost. The team are a bit slow on defensive transitions.
On a side note, the famous Anson Dorrance, who coaches UNC in the NCAA was in attendance yesterday as he is trying to recruit one of the Arsenal youngsters.
There is no doubt that a couple of players might go the same way as Lucy Parker, who left for an American University after Christmas.
A four-year education on a scholarship with full-time football training is a big temptation if you compare it to whatever British Universities offer.
The FA WSL Development League Cup final will be played on Sunday 21st May at a location to be named by the FA. Arsenal will meet Bristol City who defeated Liverpool Ladies 4-2 aet.