What a day at Wembley yesterday!
The day for us started well with a chance meeting on the train with a young Charlton Athletic goalkeeper, Megen Lynch, who was with her mother on the way to Wembley having won their tickets the previous evening.
There weren’t many fans on the train so it was quite a surprise when exiting at Wembley Park to see that glorious walkway absolutely packed with fans making their way to the stadium. A sign that women’s football has finally made it – several ticket touts trying to sell tickets! And the crowd was a record breaking 32,912!
We were lucky enough to have been invited by SSE as guests so made our way through the guest entrance into a section of Wembley not previously seen and the hospitality was terrific. We eventually made our way to our seats and as always when visiting Wembley, for me it’s a heady mix of excitement and emotion despite being neutrals on the day.
When the teams were announced I was thrilled to see Kelly Smith on the team sheet for Arsenal and Fran Kirby for Chelsea.
From kick off Arsenal showed their intent putting Chelsea on the back foot and not allowing them to settle. Driven forward by veterans Smith and Casey Stoney it seemed only a matter of time before Arsenal would score. [Before the match Stoney has announced that a different team would be on show from the one beaten 2-0 by Chelsea just a few weeks ago and so it proved.]
On 18 minutes Danielle Carter collected a beautiful pass from Casey Stoney, drifted in from the left wing and scored an absolutely beautiful goal, from the angle it looked as if the ball would go wide but it curled into the top corner, giving keeper Hedvig Lindahl no chance and it was no more than Arsenal deserved.
Chelsea responded with lots of endeavour but despite the work rate, as always, from Fran Kirby who had one shot saved by the foot of Sari Van Veenendaal the end product wasn’t there. Arsenal nullified Ji So-Yun, and when Chelsea did have opportunities they were squandered.
The best chances all fell to Arsenal and if Asisat Oshoala had shown a little more composure in front of goal she could have scored 2 or 3, several times she did all the hard work on the wing and then the finish just wasn’t there, while Kelly Smith had a thunderbolt shot that hit the crossbar, all in all could have been an easier win than 1-0 for the ladies in red.
It was a massive team effort from Arsenal their 14th win of the FA Cup which was very well deserved.
Manager Pedro Martinez Losa who prowled the touch-line for most of the game should be justly proud of his team’s work rate and effort.
For Chelsea, well maybe they thought this match would be a little bit easier than it was, but they didn’t seem as cohesive as Arsenal – lots to work on for the Champions.
Many thanks to Gino D’Andrea for the beautiful photo.