Gunners take the honours as North London derby attracts a record Women’s Super League crowd

Tottenham Hotspur 0-2 Arsenal

A RECORD CROWD approaching 39,000 turned out to witness the first FA Women’s Super League, and indeed, North London derby to be staged at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

Sixth-placed Spurs were facing their local rivals for the very first time at the top level of the women’s game. And although the Gunners were very much the favourites, Tottenham’s Joint Head Coach, Karen Hills, spoke enthusiastically about the occasion.

“It’s a challenge that we’re ready to embrace,” she explained.

“Within the season you’re always going to come up against top teams, top players and that’s what our ambition was, to compete in this league. We know there are going to be good moments and bad moments throughout the season and this, for us, is a good moment, whatever the outcome of the game. Arsenal are a fantastic team, pioneers of the women’s game and have been at the forefront of it for many, many years.

“We’re closing the gap every time we play them and we hope that this is going to be no different. We know it’s going to be a big, big challenge but we’re ready for it and we’re going to learn, whatever the outcome is. There’s a lot of learning that takes place on and off the field, that will only make us better and we’ll keep striving to be the best we can.”

Arsenal – neat and tidy, sitting second in the table – were first to threaten. Skipper, Kim Little, firing directly at Rebecca Spencer following a crisp build-up involving Danielle van de Donk. Soon after, Beth Mead nodded over as the Gunners continued to control the early tempo of the contest.

Mead sent a right-footed attempt the wrong side of an upright following an outrageous piece of skill to create herself an opening. Meanwhile, Gunners stopper, Manuela Zinsberger, thwarted Kit Graham, this after the Spurs player had eluded the attentions of Leah Williamson and raced clear on goal.

Rachel Furness was too high, while Graham was a whisker away as Spurs continued to grow into the game. Rianna dean then sent an angled attempt across goal when perhaps picking out the advancing Furness would have been a better option?

Katie McCabe drilled wide, while Vivianne Miedema left Spencer clutching thin air as Arsenal pressed menacingly after the break. Then at the midway point of the half, the Gunners took the lead. Little controlled before letting fly from fully 25-yards – Spencer left helpless as the effort fizzed into the bottom right-hand corner of her net.

Spurs had looked a little jaded since the restart. Furness tested Zinsberger’s resolve as the Lillywhites search for a foothold. However, the contest was all but over when Miedema seized on Anna Filbey’s poor backpass before rounding Spencer and firing high into the net for Arsenal’s second of the afternoon.

Lisa Evans blasted over after Miedema had played her in but in truth, Arsenal’s second-half performance had more than merited the victory.

The record attendance, coming off the back of sizable crowds at Chelsea, West Ham and most recently for the England Lionesses match at Wembley Stadium begs the question of how soon the women’s game could possibly replace League’s One and Two in terms of a spectacle, marketability and public interest?

Tottenham Hotspur now faces Chelsea at Kingsmeadow in the FA Women’s Continental League Cup on Wednesday, November 20 (7pm). They return to FAWSL action on Sunday 24 when they take on Everton at Walton Hall Park (12:30pm).

Tottenham Hotspur: Rebecca Spencer, Ria Percival, Ashleigh Neville, Hannah Godfrey, Anna Filbey, Siri Worm (Gemma Davison 83’), Chloe Peplow (Lucy Quinn 76’), Josie Green (Capt) (Rosella Ayane 80’), Rianna Dean, Kit Graham, Rachel Furness Subs not used: Chloe Morgan, Jenna Schillaci, Lucia Leon, Coral-Jade Haines

Booked: Chloe Peplow (foul), Rachel Furness (foul), Ashleigh Neville foul)
Goals: None

Arsenal: Manuela Zinsberger, Jennifer Beattie, Leah Williamson, Danielle van de Donk, Jordan Nobbs (Jill Roord 87’), Kim Little (Capt), Vivianne Miedema, Lia Walti, Katie McCabe, Lisa Evans, Beth Mead (Leonie Maier 85’) Subs not used: Emma Mitchell, Louise Quinn, Pauline Payraud-Magnin, Viktoria Schnaderbeck

Booked: None
Goals: Kim Little 66’, Vivianne Miedema 82’

Referee: Abigal Byrne
Assistants: Lisa Rashid and Melissa Burgin
Fourth Official: Lisa Benn

Attendance: 38,262

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Brian Jeeves

Email: [email protected]