2007 - ARSENAL 4-1 CHARLTON ATHLETIC
|Monday 7 May 2007, 1pm
|The City Ground, Nottingham Forest FC, Nottinghamshire
|Kelly Smith (7, 80), Jayne Ludlow (15, 45)
|Katie Holtham (2)
|2.Casey Stoney (c)
|9.Lianne Sanderson (sub 62)
4.Jayne Ludlow (c)
14.Jessica Smith (sub 68)
4.Katie Holtham (sub 82)
|10.Julie Fleeting (sub 75)
|10.Natasha Dowie (sub 82)
|14.Karen Carney (sub 62)
|8.Ashlee Hincks (sub 68)
|20.Gemma Davison (sub 75)
|15.Natasha Hughes (sub 82)
|12.Ann-Marie Heatherson (sub 82)
|24.Rebecca Spencer (GK)
|1.Pauline Cope (GK)
|Manager: Vic Akers
|Manager: Keith Boanas
|Referee: Anthony Bates (Staffordshire)
|Assistants: Graham Scott (Berks & Bucks) & John Stokes (Cheshire)
|4th Official: Shaun Proctor-Green (Lincolnshire)
Football is subjective. There are many different ways to measure greatness but by whatever measure you use the Arsenal team of 2006-07 have to be included on the definitive list of the best of all-time. Vic Akers’ side completed The Quadruple, a clean sweep of every competition they entered.
It was fitting that the last of the four, the triumph that completed the glorious quest for perfection, was the trophy that had been around the longest, the one that had first helped raise the profile of women’s football when it was inaugurated in 1970-71 – the women’s FA Cup.
Eight days before meeting Charlton in the final Arsenal had become the first British team to be crowned champions of Europe as they carried off the UEFA Cup, (since renamed the Champions League). A goalless draw against Umea at Borehamwood was enough to secure a 1-0 aggregate win courtesy of Alex Scott’s first leg goal in Sweden.
Not only were Charlton taking on the newly-crowned champions of England and Europe but a team that had trounced them 9-2 in the League earlier in the season. Indeed once all the games had been played Charlton would finish a full 16 points behind Arsenal in third place.
A crowd of 24,529 at the City Ground almost doubled the previous record crowd for the fixture which had stood at 13,824 since the 2001 final at Selhurst Park.
Come the end of this match both managers were calling for future finals to be held at Wembley. Arsenal boss Akers told the media: “The FA Vase final crowd is only about 10,000 and the FA Trophy around 20,000, and both of those are going to be played at Wembley again, so there should be a big call for the women’s final to be played there.”
Fans at the ground, as well as those watching live on BBC One, were treated to an incident-packed start. Charlton took a shock lead in the second minute when midfielder Katie Holtham converted Eniola Aluko’s low cross.
Who knows what the final outcome might have been had Charlton held on to their lead for longer than five minutes? Kelly Smith exacted full punishment after being fouled by Charlton right-back Maria Bertelli to equalise directly from an exquisite 25-yard free-kick.
At the quarter-hour mark, Charlton’s lead had turned into a deficit. Another set-piece created Arsenal’s second as Lianne Sanderson sent a free-kick to the near post where Jayne Ludlow bundled the ball over the line.
Ludlow got her second of the game in first-half stoppage-time when she rifled a spectacular 30-yard effort into the top corner to give Arsenal a 3-1 lead.
Charlton remained resolute in the second-half until nine minutes from time when Smith netted the fourth goal – a goal Arsenal’s overall dominance merited – by curling home.
Two days after the Cup final Arsenal played their first ever fixture at Emirates Stadium. They paraded their four trophies in front of the crowd and beat Everton in their penultimate League fixture. Come the season’s end they had not just won every competition they’d entered but every single domestic game they’d played.