Arsenal Women kept their Champions League hopes alive with a 2-0 away win over Sunderland Ladies on Wednesday night.
Securing the important three points were Kim Little and former Black Cat Beth Mead, both of whom scored in the first half.
The win now leaves the final day of the FASWL 1 season very well poised. Arsenal stayed a point off Manchester City Women, who beat Yeovil Town Ladies 5-0, so another win could push them into 2nd on Sunday.
As for Sunderland, they stay in 9th place.
Unlike on the weekend, Arsenal started very much on the front foot and tested Rachel Laws through Danielle van de Donk and it wasn’t long before the first goal was scored.
Nine minutes in and Little had her shot from just inside the box deflected the ball high into the goal to open the scoring. The goal came from a cross by Katie McCabe.
Hours after her contract extension was confirmed, and a few weeks after hitting 50 Arsenal goals, Jordan Nobbs went in search of another goal but her shot from outside the box flew just wide.
Although Arsenal did seem in control at this point, Sunderland did manage to fashion a chance for themselves.
Mollie Lambert broke for the hosts and connected with Keira Ramshaw but with the return ball, she could only shoot straight at Anna Moorhouse.
After Moorhouse preserved the one goal lead, it was doubled almost instantly by Mead.
Claiming her second assist of the game, McCabe played a cross to the right side of the six-yard box where Mead slid and flicked the ball back across and into the top corner of the goal. The goal was Mead’s 15th of the season.
Arsenal’s dominance continued until the end of the half and with van de Donk given the licence to go forward, she let off a couple of long range shots, but Laws did well to deal with them.
The second-half saw the game continue in a similar fashion, however, Sunderland’s defence proved to be much more solid.
Getting bombarbed by shots from Danielle Carter, van de Donk and Nobbs, the Sunderland players, Rachel Pitman in particular, showed great desire to get blocks in and stop Arsenal from extending their lead.
As the game grew on, van de Donk continued to be a thorn in Sunderland’s side getting shot after shot off on goal but she couldn’t quite make it two from two. Whether it was a powerful effort from outside the box or a more measured one from inside, it just wasn’t to be.
Going into the final game of the season, Joe Montemurro’s side head to Bristol City Ladies where a win could see them sneak into that 2nd available Champions League place.
However, that will only be possible if Manchester City Women fail to win in their game at home against Everton Ladies. So, it’s an outside chance, but all in all it’s a chance, so Bristol must be approached as a must win.
As for Sunderland, they host bottom of the table Yeovil, a game that should the win. They’ll also have an eye on the City vs Everton result as if they and City win, they’ll move into 8th place.
So as aforementioned, the final day of the FAWSL 1 season is very well poised.