Conti Cup 2020: The Road to the Final

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22nd September, 2019. Princes Park.
London City Lionesses 0 Arsenal 5 [Mead 28, 57, 79, Roord 33, Mitchell 54]
The Gunners began their Conti Cup campaign with a comfortable afternoon in Dartford, a ground where they had also won in last season’s Conti Cup group stage. [London City Lionesses rebranded from Millwall Lionesses in the intervening summer]. Beth Mead helped herself to a hat-trick, but the real headline was Lia Wälti’s return from a knee injury.

After 8 months out, the Swiss midfielder played the opening 45 minutes. Emma Mitchell was also on the score sheet, but the pick of the goals came from Dutch international Jill Roord, netting her second competitive goal for the club, delightfully spanking the ball into the top corner after twisting her way into the box.

Lia Wälti post-match reaction

20th October, 2019. Meadow Park.
Arsenal 4 [Beattie 34, van de Donk 45,50, Mead 48] Charlton Athletic Women 0
Charlton were comfortably despatched at Meadow Park for the third consecutive season. Beth Mead was the star of the show, setting up the opener for Jen Beattie with an excellent free-kick, before teeing up Danielle van de Donk for a second on the stroke of half-time. Mead then scored a goal of the season contender early in the second half.

Mead played a short corner into Jordan Nobbs, who stabbed the ball back in Mead’s direction and the Whitby born forward lashed the ball into the far corner from a tight angle. Van de Donk added a fourth, but Arsenal hearts were in mouths when Vivianne Miedema left the pitch clutching her calf late in the second half with a crunch game against Manchester City seven days down the line. Miedema was fit enough to play against City and bagged the winner, naturally.

Jordan Nobbs post-match reaction

3rd November, 2019. People’s Pension Stadium.
Brighton & Hove Albion Women 0 Arsenal 0 [Brighton win 4-2 on penalties]
Joe Montemurro rested Danielle van de Donk and Vivianne Miedema for a game on a dry, bumpy pitch at Crawley Town and despite creating numerous chances, Arsenal couldn’t break down the Seagulls and were held to a 0-0 draw. Montemurro trialled Jill Roord upfront in Miedema’s absence and it’s fair to say the experiment didn’t work- it certainly hasn’t been repeated since.

Roord had played as a striker as a teenager, but Arsenal just lacked cutting edge. A shootout was held to decide who should get the extra point and the home side prevailed after misses from Kim Little and Beth Mead from the spot. The draw made no difference to Arsenal’s destiny as eventual group winners.

Louise Quinn post-match reaction

21st November, 2019. Meadow Park.
Arsenal 7 [Little 33,52pen, Roord 45, Miedema 57,75, Nobbs 87, Beattie 90] Bristol City Women 0
Joe Montemurro sprung something of a tactical surprise by inverting full-backs Leonie Maier and Viki Schnaderbeck and creating plenty of overloads in the middle of the park. A Vixens side more focused on avoiding relegation had little answer as a brace from Kim Little and a Jill Roord goal gave the hosts a commanding 3-0 half-time lead.

Vivianne Miedema added a double in the second half before late goals from Nobbs and Beattie made it a chastening evening for Tanya Oxtoby’s side. 10 days later they would come to Meadow Park and leave with an even sounder hiding, as a Miedema powered Gunners side would go on to thump them 11-1 in the WSL.

Leonie Maier post-match reaction

11th December, 2019. Meadow Park.
Arsenal 9 [McCabe 8,34,54, Filis 45,77,86, Evans 47,88 Mead 49] London Bees 0
The Gunners only needed a point against Lee Burch’s Bees side to guarantee top spot, but they showed their Championship neighbours no mercy with a nine-goal salvo. Hot on the heels of an 11-1 home win over Bristol City, it meant 20 Arsenal goals were scored at Meadow Park in the space of two games.

Katie McCabe’s first goals of the season contributed to her first hat-trick for the club, while Mel Filis’ first goals at senior level did likewise. Lisa Evans and Beth Mead were half-time substitutes and both scored within five minutes of coming on. The victory saw Arsenal top the group with 13 points and 29 goals and none conceded.

Katie McCabe post-match reaction

15th January, 2020. Meadow Park.
Arsenal 1 [Little 86] Reading Women 0
After sailing through a straightforward group, Arsenal had to fight tooth and nail against a physical Reading side to go through to the semi-finals. Last year, a stoppage time Vivianne Miedema goal was required to beat Birmingham in the quarters and Montemurro’s side only wrapped this one up marginally earlier.

After a tough 86 minutes and with a home game against Chelsea on the horizon, Kim Little powered into the box and onto Lisa Evans’ low cross to sweep home the winner. It was a fine way to mark Kim’s 200th Arsenal appearance. Her midfield partner Jordan Nobbs also made her 200th appearance for the club on the same night.

Lisa Evans post-match reaction

29th January, 2020. Meadow Park.
Arsenal 2 [Miedema 7, van de Donk 44] Manchester City Women 1 [Bonner 60]
Arsenal locked horns with Manchester City in the semi-finals at Meadow Park in a repeat of the 2014, 2018 and 2019 finals. The Gunners dominated the first half and deserved their 2-0 half-time lead courtesy of goals from Dutch duo Vivianne Miedema and Danielle van de Donk. They really ought to have scored more.

City came back into it in the second half; Lauren Hemp’s tricky run won City a second half spot kick, but Manu Zinsberger saved Ellen White’s attempt. However, Gemma Bonner poked home from the resulting corner to set up a tense final 30 minutes. Arsenal kept City at bay reasonably comfortably and qualified for their third consecutive Conti Cup Final.

Jill Roord post-match reaction

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Peter Story Teller
Peter Story Teller
1 month ago

What can you say apart from the blot away to the Seagullesses?
Looking forward to getting our own back against the West Londoners on Saturday so let’s hope Joe has a plan rather than being bullied into soft handovers. Perhaps DvD could put in a couple of her special tackles early on so that their midfield are not so keen on getting too close!
Strange that after an eternal absence Lia has made an appearance on the Arsenal website with a hamstring problem so presumably she is unavailable again. Seems like a long lay off for a hamstring.

Christopher Humphrey
Christopher Humphrey
1 month ago

With a squad down to 12 fit (that we knowof!) outfield seniors for Saturday Joe really has no room for experimentation. With Lia’s absence rather strangely “confirmed” 4 days before the final one can only assume Leah stays at DM to the detriment of some pace in the back line or perhaps Caitlin Foord’s positional flexibility will be used “early doors” in her Arsenal career?
A Mitch recal from Spudland could be handy to keep us guessing!!