It might have clashed with the opening of the Olympic Games, but Arsenal Ladies secured their place in the semi-finals of the Continental Cup on Friday night with a dramatic last-gasp 3-2 win over Notts County Ladies.
This was a rematch of last season’s final – when the Gunners emerged victorious 3-0 after a first-half red card for Laura Bassett.
Playing at the Hive – which also hosted the London Continental Cup double-header earlier in the season – the holders took an early lead with Casey Stoney’s firm header, but they let it slip as the Ladypies hit back.
Goals from Fern Whelan and Jess Clarke put them in the ascendancy before some late drama; Arsenal substitute Kelly Smith grabbed an equaliser, then Fara Williams (Pictured) scored a last-minute penalty after Asisat Oshoala was brought down by Bassett.
Arsenal have already secured the FA Women’s Cup this year – they will certainly want to retain the Continental Cup as well.
WSL1 league leaders Manchester City were given a tough test by Doncaster Belles, who refused to crumble under some severe pressure – but eventually ran out 4-1 winners at the Academy Stadium.
A gorgeous looping header from Izzy Christiansen (Above) opened the scoring, Georgia Stanway added to her growing reputation with a second-half goal, and Toni Duggan and Jane Ross rounded things off – despite Marta Mathews’s close-range effort briefly giving the Belles hope.
Birmingham City and Liverpool went the distance, a goalless draw extending into extra-time before Coral-Jade Haines prodded home Jess Carter’s cross with almost the last kick of the game.
But it is London Bees who will be proudest of their achievement, making history when they became the first WSL2 side to make it to a Conti Cup semi-final, as goals from Ashleigh Goddard and Zemeka Clarke knocked out fellow second-tier side Sheffield 2-0.
* ‘The Roar of the Lionesses: Women’s Football in England’ is out now – available in all good bookshops *