Reset on:
by Layth Yousif at Meadow Park
VIV MIEDEMA’S 44th-minute goal sealed a hard-fought contest in favour of Arsenal Women against their battling opponents London City Lionesses at Meadow Park on Sunday afternoon.
Fifty-six days after Jonas Eidevall’s side were routed 3-0 by Chelsea in the 2021 final at Wembley, the 15-times FA Cup winners successfully launched their hunt to reach another showpiece final at the national stadium.
With Thursday’s much-needed 2-1 comeback victory over Brighton being only their second win in the last eight matches, perhaps this cup game against lower-league opponents came at the right time for Eidevall’s talented but stuttering side.
In glorious midwinter sunshine, the home side dominated the opening stages, with Nikita Parris testing the Pride’s keeper, Shae Yanez. Beth Mead had a shot saved shortly afterwards, struck near to the spot where she scored her excellent free-kick during the stirring Super League comeback against Brighton.
On 22 minutes Mead had a powerful drive spectacularly saved by Yanez, a former University of Tennessee alumnus, as the Gunners continued to dominate.
Credit has to be given to Melissa Phillips’s side, who proved obdurate opponents as the half wore on, restricting Arsenal to Frida Maanum’s snatched shot, which forced the impressive Yanez to gather before the break.
But just as the Dartford-based visitors appeared to be heading level into half time, Miedema made it 1-0, slotting home with composure moments before the interval after Mead won back possession from the Pride back line.
Miedema started the second half in similar fashion, firing over as the Gunners started powerfully, with Maanum having a shot saved by Yanez shortly afterwards.
The world-class Dutch international Miedema was to depart shortly afterwards, replaced by Austria defender Laura Wienroither to warm applause, as Arsenal continued to press for a second, with Jordan Nobbs having an effort saved on the hour.
As the clock ticked down, a determined home side sealed their passage to the next round, even if huge credit should be given to the visitors, who never made it easy for Eidevall’s side.
The bigger picture off the field is that women’s teams in the FA Cup are battling for less than 2 per cent of the prize money awarded to men’s sides, with the total for winning the trophy a measly £25,000, in contrast to the £1.8 million handed to the men.
And despite the FA conceding that it would make a “significant increase,” it has refused to reveal exactly what that means.
All of which means pressure must be kept on the relevant authorities to make substantial changes, not only to increasing the prize-money pot — but also to outdated attitudes.
Given the outstanding commitment shown by both sides during this absorbing match, it is the least they should expect.
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