Arsenal LFC clinched their 12th FA Women's Cup with a 3-0 defeat of Bristol Academy WFC in Doncaster.
It has been a disappointing time recently for the Gunners, with their UEFA Women's Champions League semi-final exit to eventual winners VfL Wolfsburg followed by a draw and a loss as they began their FA WSL defence. But contesting a joint record 13th FA Women's Cup showpiece, Arsenal triumphed thanks to headers from Stephanie Houghton and Jordan Nobbs, plus a late Ellen White strike, thus reclaiming a trophy won by Birmingham City LFC last year.
Bristol, who also lost 2-0 to Arsenal in their only previous final outing two years ago, had their hopes of a first major trophy hit early on when captain Houghton headed in Rachel Yankey's second-minute cross. Arsenal continued to dominate the first half, but the closest they came to doubling their lead before the break came when Nobbs hit the post.
Just past the hour mark, Bristol lost England Under-23 midfielder Lucy Staniforth to what looked a serious knee injury, and not long afterwards player of the match Nobbs sent a looping header past Siobhan Chamberlain from Gemma Davison's cross – further pressing her claim for a UEFA Women's EURO 2013 berth after scoring on her England debut earlier this year. In added time, White clinched victory on the rebound when Chamberlain could only parry Kim Little's shot.
Gunners manager Shelley Kerr, winning her first trophy since she replaced Laura Harvey in February, said: "We've been so successful and the expectations are really high. It's about the players; they were magnificent today. I told them to relax; I thought they showed their experience today."
These teams resume their WSL campaigns on Thursday when they meet in Bristol, with the hosts holding the only perfect record in the league and Arsenal possessing just one point from two games in their bid for a tenth straight English title. The competition offers two places in the 2014/15 UEFA Women's Champions League, with Arsenal and Birmingham confirmed as England's representatives again next season.
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