Football: Arsenal are inspired by Spacey

Arsenal Ladies 2 Southampton Saints 0

IF ARSENE WENGER will pardon the expression, Arsenal Ladies remain the Manchester United of women's football. At The Valley yesterday, they won a one-sided FA Women's Cup final to take their 12th trophy in seven years, compensating for the disappointment of losing out in the league to Croydon, who became champions on Sunday.

The pity was that with live television exposure and a record Cup final crowd of 6,450, the opposition was not stronger. At the glitzy annual awards lunch in Mayfair last week, Southampton were named most improved team and - encouragingly for their men's side - they have just avoided relegation from the top division. But yesterday they were fortunate not to suffer the same fate as Dave Jones' team, drubbed 5-0 on the same pitch by Charlton Athletic in August.

Their weakness made it difficult to judge the overall standard of play, though even allowing for it some of the winners' movement and individual skill was excellent. Southampton's goalkeeper, Debbie Beer, was named player of the match, which emphasised Arsenal's dominance but was hard on at least three of their players: Clare Weatley and Rachel Yankey were outstanding down the left flank and Marianne Spacey, the Premier League's top scorer, would have been the most deserving recipient despite somehow failing to score.

Although having taken time off to have a baby - not a problem Wenger has to cope with - Spacey, at 31, has lost none of her pace or vigour as she demonstrated early on with a shoulder charge on the goalkeeper reminiscent of Nat Lofthouse in his prime.

That livened the game up after a desultory start and having had a confident shout for hands in the penalty area turned down, Arsenal scored in the 14th minute, Southampton's captain, Sharon Hayes, slicing a cross by Justine Lorton into her own net.

The rest of the afternoon was simply a procession of chances, only one of which, astonishingly, brought another goal. That came in the 41st minute, further deflating Southampton just as they were hoping to reach the sanctuary of the dressing-room and regroup without having suffered yet more damage. It also followed perhaps the best move of the match, as Yankey found Lorton for a through pass that the left wing-back Weatley drove in.

Beer made a fine save from Lorton's shot that looked to be curling just inside a post and Spacey might have scored four times in the first 10 minutes of the second half as well as being denied a clear penalty by the referee, Wendy Toms, for Alli Short's trip.

There were no reports, however, of the referee's room being trashed by the outraged player. Indeed, the only discordant note was criticism by Arsenal's manager, Vic Akers, of the Croydon team for "sitting behind the goal screaming abuse".

He clearly did not appreciate the message left on his answering machine by Croydon's player-manager, Debbie Bampton, which ran: "Where's your treble gone?" Akers' other concern is that at least one of his players will now follow Kelly Smith "the best women's player I've seen" in moving to the United States as a professional.

Arsenal Ladies (3-5-2): Reed; White, Slee, Harwood (Conlon, 83); Pealling, Grant, Williams, Lorton (Rockall, 83), Weatley; Spacey, Yankey (Downham, 76). Substitutes not used: Mapes (gk), Few.

Southampton Saints (3-5-2): Beer; Short, Hayes, Armstrong; Beesley (O'Brien, 60), McArthur, Fisher, Gould (Poore, 74), Ritchie; Stainer (Langrish, 74), Dimsdale. Substitutes not used: Buckett (gk), Parrent.

Referee: W Toms (Dorset).

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Project Manager - Birmingham - up to £40,000 - 12 month FTC

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Manager - Birmingham - ...

SThree: Recruitment Consultant - IT

£25000 - £30000 per annum + Uncapped Commission: SThree: Sthree are looking fo...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Dublin (based in London)

£20000 - £25000 per annum + commission: SThree: Real Staffing's Pharmaceutical...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before