Arsenal Women put their best foot forward to close the FASWL 1 season with a 6-1 win over Bristol City Women, but it wasn’t enough to put them into the Champions League.
A 3-0 Manchester City Women win over Everton Ladies meant Joe Montemurro’s missed out on Europe by a point.
Making the outcome certain for Arsenal were Danielle van de Donk (2), Kim Little, Leah Williamson, Beth Mead and Katie McCabe.
On missing out on Europe, Arsenal Women Supporter’s Club player of the season, Mead said:
“Unfortunately, we had a few results we slipped up in which is our own fault because we took it out of our own hands.
“At the moment we’ve got the consistency we didn’t have at the start of the season which is what killed us.”
A few players took a while to settle into the game, some slipping, others miss-hitting passes and both sides struggled to make chances.
But 21 minutes in, Arsenal’s set piece specialist, Jordan Nobbs’ corner was nodded home by van de Donk who was unmarked in the box.
The next goal, another set piece, came in different fashion however. Replacing Vivianne Miedema up front, Dan Carter was freed with a sprayed long ball by Little. Getting goal-side, she proved too fast for the Bristol defender who brought her down for a penalty which Little converted in the bottom corner.
Having found set pieces an efficient method of attack, Arsenal benefitted from yet another to go 3-0 up inside half an hour. This goal was a bit more scrappy as Nobbs’ corner bounced all over the six yard box before Williamson hit in home on the half volley.
With everybody seeming to get on the scoresheet, it was time for Arsenal’s top scorer, Mead, to get in on the act with a powerful strike into the far bottom corner from about 25 yards out.
On the goal she said:
“I had a few efforts that didn’t go well so it was nice to connect with one eventually.”
Well, @ArsenalWFC are absolutely smashing it!
— The FA WSL (@FAWSL) May 20, 2018
Not knowing the City-Everton score, you could see Arsenal’s intent to make 2nd place going forward. A mix of Arsenal’s approach up to that point was shown in their fifth goal.
Nobbs, being more direct, crossed from deep and found the injured Carter’s substitute, McCabe who cushioned the ball down in the six-yard box, turned and finished skilfully.
Following the first-half hammering of the hosts, the second-half was played a slower pace, and Arsenal were made to pay for the bit of complacency that crept in.
Midway through the half, Bristol capitalised from putting pressure on the Arsenal backline who were a bit too relaxed. Their press forced Anna Moorhouse into an error, passing the ball straight to Chloe Arthur who chipped the goalkeeper from the edge of the box.
Now with some hope the hosts began to attack Arsenal and the PFA Young Player of the Year, Lauren Hemp fired a shot into the side-netting.
However, Arsenal killed off Bristol hopes again as unexpectedly, van de Donk directed her second header of the game into the bottom corner and out of reach of Sophie Baggaly in the Bristol goal.
So, there’ll be no Champions League football for Arsenal next season, but since Montemurro’s arrival in November he’s given fans and players alike encouragement.
On making two cup finals and where the club is going, Nobbs said:
“It definitely helps. The FA Cup was a big one, it’s hard to get there and lose but I think the fact that we won the Continental Cup shows that we’re back and close to winning trophies.
“We’re not there yet but we’ve got a journey to go on and hopefully I can be part of it, winning trophies. I’ve got high standards and I want to be winning more trophies.”
With such a strong start to his managerial career at the club, players like Jordan Nobbs committing their future to Arsenal and Beth Mead finding great form everything seems to be looking up going into next season.