Arsenal 3-3 (4-3) Tottenham: Gunners clinch victory as the North London Derby went down to the wire

A North London Derby in the FA Women’s Continental League Tyres Cup awaited a chilly Meadow Park crowd on Wednesday, with Arsenal playing host to Tottenham Hotspur in Matchday 4 of the competition’s group stages. Both North London teams were the only sides in Group D with consecutive victories ahead of the match.

Both Jonas Eidevall and Robert Vilahamn opted to make significant rotational changes to their starting elevens for the midweek occasion – ten changes were made for the Gunners, and seven for Spurs respectively.

The most notable alteration perhaps came in the form of a returning Vivianne Miedema, as the Dutch striker making her first appearance in Arsenal’s starting eleven since December 2022.

ARS: D’Angelo; Maritz, Beattie, Codina, McCabe, Kuhl, Cooney-Cross, Maanum, Lacasse, Blackstenius, Miedema.

TOT: Votíková; James, Buhler, Bartip, Neville, Petzelberger, Graham, Thomas, Bizet, Clinton, Naz

Down on the pitch, Celine Bizet and Katie McCabe immediately made for a scintillating match-up along Tottenham’s right side, both players committing to the challenges with fire.

Arsenal’s November Player of the Month – Kyra Cooney-Cross – immediately set the tempo for the fixture, as a floating chip into the feet of a roaming Vivianne Miedema saw the Gunners claim their first opportunity on goal. Her attempt to cut back inside the area saw the Dutch striker dealt with by the double-teaming defence of the Spurs backline though.

Despite being discounted by the possession, Tottenham were fast to make their presence known on the counter-attack. An overlapping run from Ash Neville saw the ball into the area, with the head of Martha Thomas expertly finding the back of the net for the first of the evening.

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Less than 60 seconds later though, the Gunners responded with urgency. Frida Maanum found space on the right side, delivering a searching cross into the area that was finished with poise by Stina Blackstenius.

An even contest fell in Spurs favour once again, as Thomas expertly found the space to split the Gunners last line. A streaming Jessica Naz reached top speed to send the ball past an advancing Sabrina D’Angelo, giving the Lilywhites the advantage at the half-hour mark.

Chasing their North London rivals once again, the Gunners responded through a scintillating passage of football. Cooney-Cross expertly utilised the width to find an advancing Katie McCabe, who sent a driving cross inside the area to be hammered home by a prime positioned Maanum.

All was tied up at the break, with the North London Derby entering the interval in a 2-2 deadlock. Vilahamn made one change to his Spurs defence at the interval, with Luana Bühler making way for Amy Turner.

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Within the opening minutes, Spurs rapidly gained the territory in Borehamwood. A midfield blunder from Kathrine Kuhl forced a turnover in the final third, with Tottenham able to gain territory to find a wandering Naz in the width. The Spurs forward found the corner with expertise, adding a second to her personal account.

A free-kick on the edge of the area gave the Gunners an opportunity to equalise, as Cooney-Cross sent the ball searching to the opportunistic back-post area. Laia Codina found connection, heading home the equaliser for what is her first goal for the club since signing in the summer.

Despite what was an aggressive contest from both sides heading into the final minutes, the fixture concluded with neither team able to break the deadlock. The fixture at Meadow Park saw the North London outfits share the points, with a penalty shootout to be played for the award of an additional point as per competition rules.

With Sabrina D’Angelo and Barbora Votikova between the sticks for each side respectively, it was Tottenham who would get the shootout underway in Borehamwood.

Despite thriving off the form of a brace, a concentration lapse from Naz saw her strike palmed away by a stretching D’Angelo. Alessia Russo followed up to open the shootout for the Gunners, finding the bottom left-corner as cool as you like.

Rosella Ayane was the second for Spurs – the young forward had no troubles finding the back of the net. A response from Beth Mead immediately followed, with Arsenal’s number 9 maintaining the one-strike advantage.

The situation for Spurs began to look bleak as Kit Graham sent the ball into the woodwork, denied of a second. The left foot of Steph Catley saw the side netting ripple though, 4-2 Arsenal.

Shelina Zadorsky kept one foot in the door for Spurs as her effort found the netting, and that very door creaked further open when Caitlin Foord was unable to convert, as Votikova denied the Australian’s entry.

Ramona Petzelberg struck home in cool fashion, though the difference didn’t prove enough – as Jen Beattie stepped up to the spot, converting to give Arsenal victory at Meadow Park.