Ladies First

Monday 6 May 2002

Fulham Ladies 2-1 Doncaster Belles.
Ladies FA Cup Final

Fulham's Ladies completed a remarkable season with a 2-1 victory over the Doncaster Belles in the 2001-02 Ladies FA Cup Final. A superb direct free-kick from Rachel Yankey and a wonderful strike from Katie Chapman ensured that Fulham's Ladies brought home the silverware yet again.

Doncaster were almost immediately under pressure as the ladies started the match at a high tempo and had their opponents on the back foot straight away.

Fulham were certainly having the better share of the opening few minutes' possession as Doncaster looked to be playing very compact - aware of the threat they were facing. Fulham's speed on the attack looked to be destabilising the Belles' balance between attack and defence but that final cutting edge had yet to appear.

Leading into match, much was being made of Doncaster's direct style. However it was to Fulham's credit that the threat presented by Karen Walker was largely nullified.



On the 9-minute mark, the dangerous looking Rachel McArthur forced a fine save from the Belles' 'keeper as she fired a deflected shot goal wards.

Fulham's defence was then put under their most significant spell of pressure of the match as the Belles won three consecutive corners. The last of which almost gave Doncaster their first goal-scoring chance of the match.

On the 20-minute mark, winger Kristy Moore was presented with a golden opportunity to put the Whites in front after she received the ball unmarked in the penalty area. But with plenty of time to compose herself, the Australian snatched at her shot and skewed the ball over.

The developing pattern of play was starting to suggest that the Belles were looking to defend around their penalty area, as they frequently allowed Fulham to maintain possession of the ball in dangerous positions. However, that final pass was still missing from the Whites.

Any feelings that Fulham were truly now on top of the match were put into check after a quick break from the Belles led to Walker forcing a fine save from Johannessen on 25 minutes.



With the Whites looking to work the ball into wide positions up front, the Belles' defence was certainly doing their job as a series of last-ditch tackles repeatedly saved the day for Doncaster.

As the first half approached its closing stages, neither side looked to be making any real inroads into their opposition's defence.

With no changes made at half time, Fulham went into the second half in the hope that they would produce a more effective attacking performance. That certainly looked to be the case as the Whites wasted little time in setting about their opponents.

The inspirational Rachel Yankey gave Fulham the lead from a wonderfully executed free kick in the 55th minute. The Belles had little to complain about as Kristy Moore was cynically brought down on the edge of the penalty area for the free kick. Yankey made no mistake in perfectly placing her effort just inside the near post.

It wasn't long before Fulham doubled their lead from a delightfully hit Katie Chapman strike. After the Belles failed to deal with a cross from Margunn Haugeness, the ball found its way out to Chapman who was lying in wait on the edge of the area. The young England midfielder made no mistake in firing a well-aimed shot past the Belles' 'keeper.



With Fulham looking to now take advantage of their two-goal lead, the Belles quickly made sure that the Whites would not have it all their own way as they struck back immediately from the restart. A well-flighted cross found the head of Handley who nodded home from six yards to make the score 2-1.

As the match approached the final quarter of an hour, the supporters inside Selhurst Park were now looking for the fitness of Fulham's ladies to ensure the Whites' victory.

With the Belles starting to feel the pace of the match, Fulham were being afforded much more space and time on the ball. The Whites duly took advantage as they spread the ball about nicely and looked to use the full width of the pitch.

The final whistle blew shortly after to complete an incredible season for Gaute Haugeness' ladies.

Fulham:

Johannessen, Jerray-Silver, Terp, Unitt, Phillip, McArthur, Chapman, Haugeness, Moore , Pettersen, Yankey

Subs:

Sanchia Duncan on for Kristy Moore 62
Lynn Rebecca Mork on for Margunn Haugeness 90