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'I'm proud of them, now we regroup' - Karen Hills on Arsenal FA Cup loss

Posted on 21 March 2017  - 12:30

Spurs Ladies' proud unbeaten run this season came to an end against a world-class Arsenal side in the Women's FA Cup on Sunday.

Karen Hills consoles Josie Green on the final whistle - all photos - Wu's PhotographyLucia LeonLeah RawleNikita WhinnettRiana SoobadooKelley BlanchflowerEartha PondWords of consolation for Renee Hector

Full-time professionals, Women's Super League 1 side, FA Cup holders and 14-times winners, Arsenal started with 11 internationals including Fara Williams, the most-capped England international, Scotland captain Kim Little and three-times Olympic champion Heather O'Reilly, capped 231 times by the USA.

The Gunners took the tie seriously and ran out 10-0 winners at Boreham Wood FC's Meadow Park.

Unbeaten in 27 matches leading up to Sunday, Spurs will now turn their attention back to their title charge in the FA Women's Premier League South - two levels below Arsenal - where they top the table with games in hand. They also have three cup finals to look forward to and manager Karen Hills insists the players should take nothing but positives from the experience.

"Let's be honest, it was a one-off game for us, a luxury game in many ways and we went there and had a go," she said.

"The level Arsenal are at is incredible. They train full-time, they were packed with internationals and so strong and quick, we couldn't get near them.

"But we showed real character, real togetherness and I'm so proud of every single one of the players.

"Yes, it was a reality check after the season we've had so far, but the players relished the challenge. They walked out of there with their heads held high knowing that's the level we all aspire to."

The team will now re-focus on what has been an incredible season as they fight on four fronts. "The squad was back in training on Monday and raring to go again," added Karen.

Spurs return to action in the FAWPL on Sunday, when they face Crystal Palace at Cheshunt FC, kick-off 2pm.

Below: Spurs line-up at Arsenal - back row, from left - Wendy Martin, Renee Hector, Toni-Anne Wayne, Josie Green, Leah Rawle. Front, from left - Lucia Leon, Riana Soobadoo, Bianca Baptiste, Jenna Schillaci, Nikita Whinnett, Sophie Mclean. Photo: Wu's Photography

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ARSENAL LADIES 10-0 SPURS
Women's FA Cup, fifth round

Report from Khalid Karimullah at Boreham Wood, Meadow Park
Photographs with thanks to Wu's Photography

Spurs Ladies’ 27-game undefeated run may have come to a halt against north London rivals, Arsenal in a valiant 10-0 defeat, but Karen Hills’ team can take a lot of pride in the manner of their approach in reaching the Women’s FA Cup last 16.

The internationally-packed hosts started on the front front with the Lilywhites finding it difficult to get going. Danielle Carter took aim from the edge of the area, but saw her curler sail wide of the post.

Sophie Mclean looked to claw back momentum spraying out to Leah Rawle overlapping down the left, whose floated cross looking for Wendy Martin was cancelled out by Sari Van Veenendaal. Katie McCabe pounced onto Jodie Taylor’s lay off, but curled wide with the outside of the left boot.

With a rapturous crowd cheering every kick - Lucia Leon, Josie Green, and Bianca Baptiste combined down the right, the latter looked to play in Martin who found the pass a stretch too far.

Fara Williams’ well-taken free-kick slid Kim Little through, which found Toni-Anne Wayne in inspired form getting down low to her near-post. Carter connected from McCabe’s flick with a diving header six-yards out, which Wayne held.

Jordan Nobbs picked out Carter who finished with menace from a tight angle for the opening goal after 21 minutes. Heather O’Reilly shimmied into the area whose left footed strike was caught by Wayne.

Baptiste and Leon recycled down the right, the former played across looking for Martin forcing Van Veenendaal to swoop up. O’Reilly’s low cross was converted in for two on the stroke of half hour. It was three a minute later. Carter collected a bobble inside the area, firing into the bottom right.

Below: Renee Hector in action

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Carter’s overhead kick went over the crossbar. Moments later, Little exchanged with Taylor to break in on goal, placing inside the far-post. Danielle Van De Donk made it five slotting from close reaching the break.

Renee Hector defended diligently breaking out from the back, her pinpoint just evaded Baptiste pacing away. Van De Donk powered into the top left connecting with Carter’s back heel – and she finished off a counter after an hour. Seven minutes later, Chloe Kelly took the ball under her control and placed inside the left-hand post.

Beth Mead made it eight curling across Wayne with 20 minutes to go. Nobbs picked out McCabe who hit off the post with Wayne pouncing onto the rebound. Just past the last quarter of an hour, McCabe flicked the ball to the inside left channel hitting back across goal for nine.

Wayne kept out Kelly’s piledriver from afar with a splendid one-handed stop to guide the ball off the post. Van De Donk completed her hat-trick after seeing her looping attempt over the line.

Certainly not the result wanted, but as ever prevalent this campaign, the tie will serve as an opportunity to learn.

Spurs Ladies: 1. Toni-Anne Wayne, 2. Lucia Leon, 15. Jenna Schillaci, 19. Renee Hector, 3. Leah Rawle (18. Eartha Pond 45), 7. Josie Green, 5. Sophie Mclean, 12. Riana Soobadoo (16. Maya Vio 63), 9. Nikita Whinnett (20. Kelley Blanchflower 68), 10. Wendy Martin, 8. Bianca Baptiste. Substitutes (not used): Megen Lynch, Danielle Carlton.