WSL: Arsenal 3 Bristol City 1
- Credit: PA
Arsenal maintained their perfect start to the Barclay’s FA Women’s Super League season but only after surviving a scare against Bristol City.
The Gunners were looking to bounce back from their midweek FA Cup exit at Manchester City, but fell behind early on when Abi Harrison scored the visitors’ first league goal of the campaign.
But Jordan Nobbs hit back just before half time before Caitlin Foord completed the turn-around with a close-range finish and Vivianne Miedema wrapped up the win with four minutes to play.
Bristol City – beaten 11-1 in this fixture last season and yet to pick up a point this time around – made the perfect start when Ella Mastrantonio caught Leah Williamson in possession and fed Harrision, whose shot deceived Manuela Zinsberger and found the bottom corner to open up a shock lead.
Arsenal almost hit back immediately but, after rounding the goalkeeper, Miedema was denied by a wonderful goalline block from Amy Palmer.
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For the next 40 minutes the Gunners dominated possession but created next to nothing against a resolute Robins defence, which limited them to long-range, wayward shots until just before the break, when Nobbs met Foord’s low cross with a precise finish.
It was the same two who combined again shortly after the break, this time Foord sliding in at the back post to touch in Nobbs’ perfectly-weighted cross.
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From then on it was almost one-way traffic, only a string of very fine Sophie Baggaley saves preventing Nobbs, Katie McCabe and Miedema adding more.
Substitute Ebony Salmon did have a late chance to level for Bristol City but Zinsberger did well to save one on one.
Miedema then ended the contest, racing onto a ball over the top and poking home to ensure that Arsenal returned to the top of the table.
Arsenal manager Joe Montemurro said: “All credit to Bristol, they were very compact, very difficult to break down. We had to pick our moments and be patient.
“When you don’t get an important result midweek, sometimes that emotion can take over. But I’m proud of the players, they kept their heads, kept their emotions and continued to do what was needed to be done to break down a very organised team
“The goal came from an error on our behalf and a very good finish from their striker. They’re things that happen in football, errors, we all make them, but it was more the reaction to continue to play, to look for the openings and be patient for when the opportunity came. It was always going to be tough to break down such an organised team it needed a change of tempo and a little bit of patience.
“There was a bit of positional elements we worked on, areas we thought we could find some spaces, at half time, but we all knew that the speed of play had to be lifted at times. But it was more about being professional and patient, and waiting for our opportunities.”
Arsenal (4-3-3): Zinsberger; Schnaderbeck, Beattie (Gut 75), Williamson (Maritz 75), McCabe; Nobbs (Wubben-Moy 87), Walti, van de Donk; Mead, Miedema, Foord.
Unused subs: Stenson, Mace.
Referee: Emily Heaslip.
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