Lindsay’s FA Cup heartbreak

Linsday Johnson
Linsday Johnson

LINDSAY Johnson suffered FA Cup heartbreak after Everton lost English women’s football showpiece 2-0 to Arsenal.

The Gunners completed a male and female FA double after Arsene Wenger’s team beat Hull City in extra-time last month.

But, unlike the drama at Wembley, there were no difficulties at all for the ladies as they won at a canter with a goal in each half at stadium:mk.

Shelley Kerr, managing Arsenal for the last time, saw Kelly Smith score the opener in the first half and then set up Japanese international Yakari Kinga in the second.

But for the woodwork and a flying keeper from Rachel Brown-Finnis, Arsenal could have had a hatful.

And Johnson, at 34, fears her third FA Cup final could be her last.

“I am disappointed we lost, but more disappointed that we just didn’t perform anywhere near how we can,” said the Hartlepool-born defender.

“They could have had a couple more to be honest, we just didn’t get into the game.

“But we are a very young squad and the girls will learn from this experience and become better players.

“I’m upset because at my age it’s going to be a struggle to get to any more FA Cup finals.

“You never know, but our previous finals were 2005 and 2010 so that could be my last.

“I’m not going to be around forever.”

That the Gunners triumphed should not have come as a surprise – they have won NINE of the last 11 FA Cup finals, an incredible record.

Everton had defeated them in the 2010 final at Nottingham Forest but there was no danger of a repeat at MK Dons yesterday.

Arsenal brought their cup form and Everton did not.

That effectively was the story of yesterday’s match. Arsenal scored two and could have many more – they hit the Everton woodwork four times, twice in each half.

When Nikita Parris was sent through in the first minute, it looked like being a promising afternoon for Everton even if she blazed the ball high and wide.

Aside from a 78th-minute Parris header, which went inches wide, there was little else for the Toffees to cheer.

The opener came in the 15th minute when Danielle Carter was chopped down on the edge of the box by full-back Alex Greenwood.

And Smith curled an excellent free-kick beyond the blue wall and Brown-Finnis into the keeper’s left-hand corner for her sixth FA Cup final goal.

It maintained the England star’s record of scoring in every round.

Rachel Yanke’s screamer hit Brown-Finnis’s right post and Carter the left upright as Arsenal threatened to run riot.

Smith’s delightful left-footer beat the Toffees keeper – though not the post – in the 50th minute.

But Smith showed great awareness after shaking off an Everton foul to tee up Kinga for the second.

Shinobu Ohno was denied by Brown-Finnis and Emma Mitchell hit the bar for the Gunners before the end.

For Johnson, who was the Player of the Match in her first FA Cup final, at Upton Park in 2005, and a winner in 2010, there was scant consolation to take from yesterday.

The centre-half was kept busy as the Toffees struggled to stem the tide of Arsenal attacks and she made a number of tackles, blocks and interceptions.

“Arsenal were the better team and deserved their win,” said the former England international. “But I think the occasion may have got the better of us.

“We normally pass it well but we just couldn’t get the ball and we got no real service to Nikita up front.”

Johnson now says Everton, yet to taste victory in the summer-staged Super League after two draws and two defeats, must now find their winning touch in the top division.

“Bizarrely the Super League now has a month off,” she said.

“We’ll probably have a week off now, but we’ll get back to training and lift each other and go again.”