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Arsenal Ladies' title hopes in balance after Bristol draw
Arsenal Ladies’ hopes of retaining their WSL title are hanging by a thread after Bristol Academy held them to a second goalless draw in four days on Sunday.
Sunday’s result, coupled with Thursday’s stalemate against Lincoln, leaves the Ladies three points behind Liverpool with just two games left.
Shelley Kerr handed goalkeeper Cherie Rowlands, on loan from Barnet, a debut in place of the injured Emma Byrne. Katie Chapman captained the team alongside Kim Little and Jordan Nobbs in midfield, with Gemma Davison and Ellen White supporting Danielle Carter in attack.
The hosts started well and could have opened the scoring when White headed over from close range following good work from Carter.
A few minutes later Steph Houghton misjudged a corner from Little and could only head wide.
Arsenal were dominating the match and limited their visitors to shots from range which rarely troubled Rowlands, with Natalia Pablos’ effort after 25 minutes a case in point.
A few minutes before the break the Gunners carved out an opening with their best move of the first half. White received the ball after a marauding run from Little and crossed for Carter. The forward, who yesterday received her first senior international call-up, took a touch and fired just over.
Bristol were much brighter at the start of the second half, but again it was Arsenal who created the first chance of note. Davison found Little with acres of space in the box, but the Scotland international could only place a shot wide.
Moments later Little came close again when she fired a shot just wide from the edge of the box.
Mark Sampson’s side improved after the hour and almost took the lead Pablos fired a volley inches wide of Rowlands’ post.
Arsenal responded in kind when White was denied by a brilliant fingertip save by Bristol goalkeeper Siobhan Chamberlain. Gilly Flaherty headed over from the resulting corner.
Despite the home team’s pressure, Bristol looked dangerous on the counter attack. Ann-Marie Heatherson floated a header just over with 20 minutes remaining before Natasha Harding forced Rowlands into a smart stop with a well placed shot.
The action was end to end in a frantic final ten minutes as both teams searched for what would have been a crucial winner in terms of the title race. Harding missed a wonderful chance to win it for Bristol when she dragged a shot wide in stoppage time before Chamberlain denied Yankey with second remaining.
Arsenal face Birmingham in their final home match of the league season on Sunday before a trip to Everton on the final day, knowing they need other results to go their way if they are to retain their title.
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