Fulham 3 Arsenal 2

Wednesday 16 January 2002

League Cup Semi Final - Fulham Ladies 3 Arsenal Ladies 2 (aet)

(Image: Javier Garcia) Report: BBC Online

The balance of power in English women's soccer began shifting from north to west London as Fulham beat treble champions Arsenal 3-2 after extra time in the Premier League Cup semi-final.

Norwegian international striker Marianne Pettersen hit a 91st minute winner to herald the dawn of a new era.

It could see the Cottagers, Europe's first professional women's club, sweep all before them in the domestic game.

Arsenal have been the dominant force since the formation of the Premier League in 1992-93.

They have won the championship four times and the FA Cup five times as well as collecting the League Cup on six occasions.

Arsenal won the League Cup in each of the last four seasons and had not lost a game in the competition since November 1996.

But at Woking FC's Kingfield Stadium, they met their match in a Fulham team whose only defeat in their 18 months of professionalism was by Arsenal in last season's FA Cup final.

After avenging that reversal Fulham manager Gaute Haugenes said: "We are not yet the definitive number one, but after losing to Arsenal in the FA Cup final then winning this match we are level with them.

"We are the best two teams in England and I feel that this Fulham side is not far away from the best club teams in Europe."

Revenge

Arsenal boss Vic Akers, whose team's defeat was their first in any competition for 22 months, said: "We played well and I was proud of the girls, but in the end fitness levels told - we just ran out of legs.

"We'll always give Fulham a good game, but we might be the only club who can do that and there's a big danger next season of the League being a one-horse race."

Fulham have not yet met the Gunners in League action as they are still climbing the Premier League pyramid.

But they are set for promotion from the Southern Division to the top flight this season and gave a foretaste of what's in store for the big clubs as well as extracting revenge for their Cup final defeat.

Dogged fightback

They had to come from behind, however, after Arsenal had started impressively and deservedly taken a 26th minute lead through Ciara Grant.

The Republic of Ireland midfielder latched on to a poor back pass by central defender Lene Terp to slide the ball home.

Former Arsenal player Rachel Yankey equalised two minutes before the interval when Emma Byrne, Arsenal's Eire international goalkeeper, hopelessly mis-read the England striker's cross and the ball looped over her head and into the net.

The game seemed to be swinging Fulham's way after substitute Sanchia Duncan volleyed in Yankey's curling 62nd minute cross.

But Arsenal doggedly fought back and veteran striker Marieanne Spacey equalised with a superbly driven 25 yard cross shot eight minutes from the end of normal time.

Just 33 seconds into extra time though, Pettersen raced on to Rachel McArthur's long through ball to drive in the winner from 12 yards.

The Cottagers now meet Birmingham City in the final, the Northern Division leaders having pulled off a major shock in the other semi-final by beating Doncaster Belles 4-3 on Sunday.

Fulham team: Johannessen, Jerray-Silver, McArthur, Terp, Philip, Chapman, Haugenes, Unitt, Moore, Yankey, Pettersen.

Subs: Used: Duncan for Moore

Not used: Gibbons, Smith, Rahman.

Attendance: 1,391