Spurs show fight in exciting derby draw

Arsenal 2-2 Tottenham Hotspur

Tottenham Hotspur put some of their derby misery to one side by playing out a spirited Continental Cup draw with Arsenal at an icy Meadow Park.

Having slipped in the FAWSL of late, the prospect of facing a Spurs side they have hit ten past over two previous meetings this season must have left the Gunners rubbing their hands in anticipation of quashing recent frustrations. Indeed, Lilywhites Head Coach Karen Hills, said: “This will be the third time we’ve played Arsenal already this season and in three different competitions.

Our last two meetings with them were two very different games in terms of our performances. There were plenty of positives from both games, but the score lines were obviously very tough to take.

Hills sides’ only victory this campaign came against London City Lionesses at the Hive back in early October. And despite their winless sequence continuing and a bonus point squandered following a penalty shootout, Spurs offered their North London rivals a little more to think about than in recent encounters.

Lydia Williams comfortably fielded Alanna Kennedy’s early dead-ball attempt as Tottenham looked to profit in the blustery conditions – Ria Percival feeling the full force of a similar attempt from Katie McCabe as the Gunners swiftly responded.

Rebecca Spencer clawed out Jill Rourd’s close-range effort as Arsenal turned then screw, but the Spurs stopper could do very little to prevent the Gunners all-time leading scorer, Vivianne Miedema, from opening the scoring with a low drive into the bottom corner of the net with the host’s next meaningful foray forward.

Rosella Ayane forced Wiliams into a smart save after a neat move involving Ashleigh Neville. But despite Tottenham’s toil – honest and hard-working – it was Arsenal who provided the more fluent football – Danielle Van De Donk nodding wide a McCabe cross as they stepped up their search for a second.

Skipper Kim Little passed up a glorious opportunity shortly before the interval – fluffing her lines in front of goal following a flowing move down the right. Then Lia Walti was too high as the Gunners finished the half stronger.

The appearance of two-time World Cup winner, Alex Morgan, offered Tottenham further attacking prowess. Leah Williamson tested Spencer’s resolve with a fizzing strike from distance, while Morgan was a whisker away with an angled attempt as the sides exchanged opportunities immediately after the restart.

But Tottenham were offering more of a threat. Percival profited from Siri Worm’s superb pass before beating Williams to restore parity.

Tottenham tails were up. Williams managed to finger-tip Angela Addison’s thundering drive onto the woodwork, but before the Lilywhite could make any further impact, Arsenal struck again. Caitlin Foord managed to get in ahead of Percival to divert home from close range.

Kennedy’s free-kick sailed over, while Percival was agonisingly close to her second of the evening. But Tottenham were now asking all the questions. Shelina Zadorsky was on hand to bundle home from close range, setting up a grandstand finish.

Williams saved at the feet of Morgan, while Beth Mead drove wide, but the result was about right.

Arsenal grabbed a bonus point by winning the resulting penalty shootout – Morgan sending the final attempt over after each of the previous nine kicks had been successful.

Arsenal: Lydia Williams, Lotte Wubben-Moy, Leah Williamson, Danielle Van De Donk, Kim Little (Lisa Evans 46’), Vivianne Miedema (Beth Mead 74’), Lia Walti, Jill Roord (Ruby Mace 81’). Katie McCabe, Caitlin Foord, Leonie Maier (Jennifer Beatie 68’) Subs not used: Manuela Zinsberger (GK), Beth Mead, Malin Gut, Gracie Pearse, Grace Gerrard

Booked: Beth Mead (foul), Danielle Van De Donk (foul)
Goals: Vivianne Miedema 11’, Caitlin Foord 71’

Tottenham Hotspur: Rebecca Spencer, Lucia Leon, Shelina Zadorsky, Josie Green (Capt) (Gemma Davidson 81’), Ria Percival, Angela Addison, Siri Worm (Alex Morgan 46’), Alanna Kennedy, Rosella Ayane (Lucy Quinn 81’), Hannah Godfrey, Ashleigh Neville Subs not used: Kerys Harrop, Sophie Whitehouse (GK), Amy Martin, Elish Sulola, Esther Morgan

Booked: Rosella Ayane (foul)
Goals: Ria Percival 60’, Shelina Zadorsky 88’

Referee: Amy Fearn,
Assistants: Jack Bloxham and Charles Martland
Fourth Official: Robert Whitton

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Brian Jeeves

Email: [email protected]