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Charlton Athletic 1 (Heatherson 40)
att: 1,487; at Stevenage Borough F.C.
Charlton Athletic won the F.A.Women's Community Shield for the first time in their history as a close range goal from young striker Ann-Marie Heatherson proved to be just enough to separate themselves and Arsenal in a well-contested match at Broadhall Way.
Both teams paraded their new summer signings, Mary Phillip and Elaine O'Connor making their debuts for Arsenal whilst Katie Chapman started in a Charlton shirt for the first time. Jayne Ludlow captained the Gunners in the absence of Faye White, for whom Hayley Kemp deputised in the centre of defence.
With barely sixty seconds on the clock, Charlton almost caught Arsenal cold as Carmaine Walker's flick released Ann-Marie Heatherson the left, she found her way past Mary Phillip before producing a cross which was fractionally too high for the oncoming Eniola Aluko. The Addicks continued to look bright during the opening minutes and another sharp breakaway saw Aluko denied again, this time by a fine challenge from Clare Wheatley after good work from Walker.
Lianne Sanderson produced the first effort on goal for Arsenal, a tame lob which was comfortably held by Pauline Cope but the Gunners were settling down and the first clear opening in the 12th minute, as Casey Stoney and Cope hesitated over clearing and Julie Fleeting touched the ball past the Charlton keeper but she could not force it home under a saving challenge from Danielle Murphy.
Fleeting was looking sharp and, after a good run and exchange of passes with Wheatley, could not quite get herself set for a shot on the edge of the area and the chance was lost and at the other end, Aluko made a fine run which took her through the Arsenal defence and this time it was Jayne Ludlow who did enough to make her shoot wide.
Leanne Champ fired a shot wide for Arsenal from a corner as the game continued to flow from end to end but chances were few as both defences had settled down well. Emma Byrne did well to gather a dangerous Walker cross under pressure but Arsenal were to pass up another great opportunity seven minutes before half time. A powerful run from Ludlow saw her find Fleeting, who released Wheatley in the area but her shot was saved by Cope.
Arsenal were made to pay three minutes later, Jess Smith's clever reverse pass putting Aluko in on goal, her sliding shot may well have been on its way into the net but Heatherson made sure from close range to give Charlton the lead.
The goal stung Arsenal into a quick reply but Charlton were grateful to Cope for some fine goalkeeping, staying on her feet as Fleeting tried to round her and she was helped out by her defenders who crowded out the Arsenal striker. Half time came, with Charlton holding on to their one-goal advantage.
The second half started with Arsenal having the better of possession against a more cautious Charlton but the Addicks continued to look strong at the back, with only a half chance falling to Wheatley from Ciara Grant's header. Charlton did begin to settle though and Chapman made a good run into the area but couldn't quite direct Eartha Pond's cross at goal.
Sanderson shot straight at Cope on the turn as did Heatherson, at Byrne at the other end as both sides continue to promise when going forward but struggling to break down the defences.
Broadhurst lifted a 25-yard shot narrowly over after Arsenal had cleared a Stoney cross but this was a rare opportunity as both sides were visibly becoming heavy legged at this stage.
There was a scare for Byrne as she punched a Pond corner just past her own post and, from the resulting corner, the Arsenal keeper needed to save from substitute Daniella Farmer's header. Chapman fired over her own rebound from another Pond kick as Charlton successfully continued to keep the ball in the Arsenal half of the pitch.
Arsenal tried a late rally, Hayley Kemp's free kick was deflected just wide and just beyond the oncoming Ludlow. Charlton immediately broke from the resulting corner with Phillip doing well to stop Farmer breaking clean through on goal. As the game went into five minutes of injury time, it took an excellent interception from Murphy to foil Ludlow and, after a rare lack of composure at the back from Charlton, Dunia Susi found Justine Lorton whose cross was headed over from close range by Fleeting.
This was to be the last chance for Arsenal and it was Charlton who duly picked up the first silverware of the season.
Arsenal: Emma Byrne, Kirsty Pealling, Leanne Champ, Jayne Ludlow, Mary Phillip, Hayley Kemp, Ciara Grant, Elaine O'Connor, Lianne Sanderson, Julie Fleeting, Clare Wheatley. Subs: Justine Lorton (for O'Connor 45 mins), Dunia Susi (for Wheatley 84 mins), Gemma Davison (for Sanderson 90 mins), Lisa Burrows, Jazmine Cripps.
Charlton: Pauline Cope, Casey Stoney, Eartha Pond, Jessica Smith, Karen Hills, Katie Chapman, Danielle Murphy, Ann-Marie Heatherson, Carmaine Walker, Jo Broadhurst, Eniola Aluko. Subs: Daniella Farmer (for Aluko 65 mins), Alexa Hunn (for Heatherson 71 mins), Susan Rea, Nicola Morris, Jade Nelson.
(Photo - Elaine O'Connor finds herself surrounded by Ann-Marie Heatherson (left) and Jo Broadhurst.
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