Arsenal Ladies travelled to Beckenham Town FC to take on Millwall Lionesses earlier today, as the experienced WSL side routinely triumphed against their WSL2 hosts. Three goals thanks to Carla Humphrey, Rachel Yankey and Jordan Nobbs gave the Gunners a convincing pre-season away win, as the 2015 WSL campaign lay under six weeks away.
The North Londoners started with a strong line-up, as all five of their England Cyprus Cup call-ups, Siobhan Chamberlain, Casey Stoney, Alex Scott, Jordan Nobbs and Lianne Sanderson took to the field. Carla Humphrey, after signing her first professional deal during the week, also started alongside fellow academy graduate Vyan Sampson.
As expected the encounter settled into early Arsenal threat, with winter-signing Sanderson almost adding to her pre-season tally, as she was denied by Millwall Lionesses ‘keeper Frankie Gibbs, after a one on one opportunity from a tight angle.
With the Gunners dominating proceedings, defender Scott drove a shot over the bar, whilst Nobbs had two quick fire chances denied by Gibbs again and a last ditch tackle from Lionesses Dionne Lennon.
A third of the way through the game and, on the half hour mark, the Gunners' probing finally told as Humphrey collected a neat through ball to tuck it inside Gibbs’ far post. It capped off a remarkable week for the young midfielder as she looks to progress in the Arsenal Ladies first team for the season ahead.
Millwall continued to not find any meaningful foothold in the game as the half neared its close, and with the clock bearing down on 45 minutes, the experienced Yankey pounced on a stray clearance to rifle home the Gunners' second from the left edge of the box.
Another England international Stoney tried her luck from distance and Sanderson threatened again just before the half-time whistle, but both opportunities came to nothing as Arsenal Ladies went in at the break 2-0 up against their resolute hosts.
With no changes from boss Pedro Martinez Losa for the second period, the Gunners were straight back into their stride as the potent Sanderson finished well to make, what she thought, the score 3-0. However, her effort was ruled out for offside, although possibly harshly, as the ball over the top which put her through appeared to get a final Lionesses touch.
The North Londoners would not have to wait long for their third though, as Nobbs took her pre-season tally to three goals with a stunning 30-yard effort, which snuck in just under the crossbar. Although just 22-years of age, Nobbs, now in her fifth year in North London, will play a vital part from midfield in any potential Gunners success this season.
From 3-0 the scoreline could have extended soon after, as Yankey shot into the side netting following a good combination with Nobbs. Humphrey was then put through one on one again from a lofted pass, but substitute ‘keeper Sarah Quantrill produced a brave challenge to nip the ball off the midfielder's toes.
As the game reached the final quarter, Gunners ‘keeper Chamberlain was called into action as a Lionesses trialist teased in a cross which the England shotstopper calmly palmed to safety under pressure.
With the clock ticking towards the end of the 90 minutes, the tie was appearing to peat out as Arsenal had already put the fixture out of sight. More chances for Sanderson and Caroline Weir came and went, as the Gunners eased into the final whistle for a commanding 3-0 success.
The result keeps Arsenal Ladies undefeated this pre-season with a previous 4-1 victory against Doncaster Rovers Belles and 1-1 draw with Aston Villa Ladies.
Most of the Gunners' internationals, new signings and academy products have got more valuable playing time, as they get finely tuned for the impending FA Cup and WSL ventures this season, and next up for the Ladies is an away encounter at Derby County Ladies on Wednesday evening.