Supersubs keep Gunners’ Euro hopes alive
13 October, 2016 — By Steve Barnett
Danielle Carter proved a handful for the Doncaster defence. Picture: The FA via Getty Images
ARSENAL Ladies kept their faint hopes of qualifying for next season’s Champions League alive with a resounding victory away at Doncaster Rovers Belles on Thursday night in the top flight of the Women’s Super League.
Natalia Pablos Sanchon and Kelly Smith both came off the bench to score, while hotshot striker Danielle Carter was also on target as the Gunners banged in five at the Keepmoat Stadium.
The match also marked the return to action for Leah Williamson following a lengthy spell on the sidelines with an ankle injury. The 19-year-old said she was “delighted” to be back, adding that Arsenal would keep battling to finish the season above London rivals Chelsea – and in Europe.
“I’m really pleased to be back. I know that everybody says that, but I am,” she said. “The game was all about the team. I think I played ok but it was really about a good team performance.
“We will fight to the end. There is still something to play for and we won’t stop. “We had a harsh team talk because we knew we needed to shape up. “We feel like we’re flying now and we want to continue that.”
Carter opened the scoring in the 12th minute against Doncaster Belles when she poked home from close range, giving the Gunners a slender 1-0 lead at the break. Pablos Sanchon proved to be a supersub for manager Pedro Martinez Losa, coming off the bench in the 57th minute and scoring within just three minutes.
With that second goal easing the pressure, and the three-points all but in the bag, Carter and Pablos Sanchon both went on to score again, before Smith’s impudent lob from 30 yards wrapped up a convincing 5-0 win in injury time.
Williamson reserved special praise for Pablos Sanchon and Smith.
“They calm things down because we haven’t always controlled games this season, but we changed that and those two players really helped us,” she said.
“When you see goals like Kelly scored, you wonder how we don’t score more goals and win more games – it was incredible!”
Meanwhile Dutch international Danielle van de Donk has committed her future to Arsenal by signing a new contract. Capable of playing in both midfield and as a striker, the 25-year-old has impressed with her skills and tenacity in her first season with the Gunners, scoring three times in 12 league outings.