In the first ever North London Derby in the Women’s Super League, it was favourites Arsenal who scooped all three points after goals from Kim Little and Vivianne Miedema.
Last season’s champions versus the team that finished second in the second-tier last season. Even having switched from a part-time to a full-time set-up over the summer, the Spurs team was clearly a new one. A young one. On paper one that wouldn’t, couldn’t be a match for an Arsenal team that boasted nothing but internationals and well-known stars.
The first ever North London Derby at the new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, the stands filled, the nerves rippled through the home team as they let their geographical rivals run at them. The flat four at the back looked to give the team stability but it stretched itself across the full width of the pristine pitch, leaving gaps big enough for the entire Arsenal bus. The Gunners wove through, Kim Little’s seventh minute stinger deployed straight down Becky Spencer’s throat for the former Arsenal goalkeeper to clutch.
The minutes ticked by with Arsenal calling the shots until suddenly, out of nothing, Kit Graham got the better of Jennifer Beattie, her effort one that Manuela Zinsberger dealt with with ease. Yet it marked a turning point, it was the spark to spur the hosts on, they didn’t claw their way to the top but they did stretch the game, giving the visitors something to think about.
From a Graham snap-shot to a not-quite curler from Rianna Dean, the hosts saw their chances come and go as the first half drew to a close. When the two came back out for the second, they fell back into the pattern of Arsenal dominance, the visitors still edging the chances but still drawing a blank.
Despite relative success with their press up top, the Lilywhites fell back a half yard as the team adopted for a narrower approach, Arsenal unwavering in their closing down of the ball. Then finally, long after the hour, the Gunners had their goal, Little’s net-ripper leaving Spencer to grasp at air.
All too soon, the exhaustion and exertion began to tell, the match began to slip through Spurs’ fingers, a lapse in concentration at the back allowing Vivianne Miedema to rob her marker, roll Spencer and send the ball into the unguarded net to seal all three points.
A late rally from Spurs enough to get the record crowd back into high voices, but not enough for a consolation to show for their, overall, commendable performance.
Spurs: Spencer, Percival, Neville, Godfrey, Filbey, Worm; (Davison ’83) Peplow (Quinn ’76), Green (Ayane ’79) (c), Dean, Furness, Graham
Arsenal: Zinsberger, Evans, Williamson, Beattie, McCabe, Wälti, Little (c), Nobbs (Roord ’88), van de Donk, Miedema, Mead (Maier ’85)
Goals: Little ’67, Miedema ‘82
Cautions: Peplow ’36,
Referee: Abigail Byrne
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