Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Women’s Football: Steph Houghton is a happy Gunner

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STEPH HOUGHTON admits she was living the dream as she picked up the Women’s FA Cup with Arsenal on Saturday.

The 23-year-old from South Hetton played the full game as the Gunners saw off plucky Bristol Academy 2-0 at the Ricoh Arena in Coventry.

First half goals from Kim Little and Julie Fleeting sealed the victory.

“Overall we deserved to win on our first half performance alone. We could have been 4-0 up at half-time,” said the former Sunderland player.

“I’m so happy to win my first FA Cup and my first trophy with Arsenal.

“I can’t really put into words the feeling of when I got my winner’s medal and lifted the FA Cup in front of my family.

“It’s definitely what dreams are made of and I’m sure it won’t sink in for a few months still.”

First-time finalists Bristol made a lively start as they looked to pressure their heavily-fancied opponents,

Anouk Hoogendijk headed wide from an early corner but Arsenal soon rammed home their superiority as, after Ellen White had a shot blocked and former Sunderland star Jordan Nobbs volleyed over, Little fired them ahead in the 19th minute.

The impressive Scottish midfielder received the ball on the edge of the Bristol box after a cross from Houghton was only partially cleared. Little nutmegged one defender and beat another before slotting home.

Fleeting had a shot blocked but the striker then doubled the lead after 32 minutes.

Full-back Niamh Fahey got forward down the left and her cross allowed the striker to head home from eight yards.

Bristol sought a response after the break, although Arsenal remained in control of the contest, and they came within inches of getting a goal back as Helen Bleazard’s free-kick came back off the bar.

Little had a late chance to grab her second goal but Siobhan Chamberlain saved well from close range after Jennifer Beattie headed a Houghton free-kick across goal.

The Gunners will now look to complete a league and cup double when the Super League resumes for the second half of the season. They are second, four points behind Birmingham and with a game in hand.

“Winning the FA Cup has made the team hungry for more trophies,” added Houghton. “Our focus has to be on the league when on fixtures resume in July.”

Next up for Houghton, though, could be the World Cup in Germany as she is hoping to make the final cut in Hope Powell’s England squad.

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