Liverpool and Arsenal took the honours in the two FA WSL Academy finals in tough conditions at Loughborough University, reports Richard Laverty.
Liverpool ran out 2-1 winners in a closely fought encounter against Bristol City before Arsenal had it much easier in a comfortable 5-0 victory over Manchester United.
In the day’s early game with the Academy Plate at stake, Bristol goalkeeper Eartha Cumings was responsible for Bristol keeping a foothold in the game, enough so to allow Chloe Gilroy to slot home Rhianne Oakley’s cross.
Cumings thwarted Farah Crompton, Missy Bo Kearns and Annabel Blanchard before she was finally beaten by a deflection off Lauren Thomas’s cross early in the second half.
Liverpool soon completed the turnaround when Kearns slipped in Blanchard, the forward rounding Cumings to score the winner.
Bristol came close to an equaliser when Ellie Strippel’s free-kick struck the bar but Liverpool head coach Martin Ho was delighted with his side’s efforts.
“It’s an amazing achievement by the players to win two trophies this season under difficult circumstances at times. I’m proud of everyone’s efforts.”
It took Arsenal much less time to wrap up the Academy Cup in the second game of the day. A stunning effort inside three minutes from Shauna Vassell put Arsenal in front and the Gunners never looked back.
Just minutes later it was 2-0 when Lachante Paul scored her first of the afternoon with a low finish and Paul added her second shortly before half-time after Alex Everett had denied Melisa Filis.
It was 4-0 before half-time Paige Bailey-Gayle swept home a low finish and the game was put well beyond United.
The second half was a low-key affair as the temperature took its toll on several players, but Bailey-Gayle did add her second and Arsenal’s fifth as the game approached the 90th minute, adding some extra gloss to an already comprehensive victory.
Arsenal manager Lauren Phillips said, “I’m very pleased for this group of players. It’s a group who have overcome a lot of hurdles this season and very much deserve to celebrate this success as a reward for their continued dedication to their individual development.”