WSL: Spurs stun Arsenal with milestone North London Derby win

Molly Bartrip of Tottenham Hotspur celebrates with teammates Ash Neville and Ramona Petzelberger
Molly Bartrip of Tottenham Hotspur celebrates with teammates Ash Neville and Ramona Petzelberger (Photo by Eddie Keogh/Getty Images)

Martha Thomas struck to cap a stunning Tottenham Hotspur team move and give the hosts an historic first ever Women’s Super League win over Arsenal in the North London Derby on Saturday.

Having played out a six-goal thriller in the Conti Cup on Wednesday with the Gunners taking the spoils on penalties, the two foes renewed hostilities with league bragging rights up for grabs.

In a battle of the Swedish bosses, Tottenham boss Robert Vilahman made one change from the side that played midweek, with Beth England coming in for Jess Naz. That meant a first League start for Czech goalkeeper Barbora Votíková.

In the other dugout, Jonas Eidevall made nine changes as he looked to build on last week’s demolition of Chelsea.

A North London Derby to remember

With both sides looking to play on the front foot, it was no surprise that chances quickly came at both ends, firstly with Beth England shooting at Manuela Zinsberger.

Arsenal quickly responded and Caitlin Foord had a shot deflected just wide after 12 minutes for a corner. Steph Catley put in a peach of a ball but Alessia Russo headed it wide.

Five minutes later, Foord was on the charge again. After cutting in past Luana Bühler, she unleashed a fierce drive that cracked the post. That was the last action of Bühler’s afternoon as she was forced off by injury. She was replaced by Amy Turner after just 19 minutes.

Bühler’s Day Off didn’t disrupt the Spurs’ momentum and they settled well. Although, they were kept to largely speculative efforts. Molly Bartrip floated a 35 yard free-kick into the midriff of Zinsberger and another shot from distance from the foot of Kit Graham didn’t trouble the Austrian goalkeeper as the game passed the half hour mark.

With five minutes left of the half, Votíková sprung into action. She smartly pushed away Frida Maanum’s effort from the edge of the box to ensure the sides entered the half-time break deadlocked.

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Martha Thomas stings Arsenal

The Gunners started the second half the far brighter side, pinning Tottenham back from the first whistle. Russo squandered another glorious chance from inside the six-yard box after 50 minutes, heading a Beth Mead cross wide.

Chances for Pelova and Leonhardsen Maanum came and went within minutes of each other as Tottenham had to weather an increasingly heavy storm. If the home side were to trouble the score sheet, they’d have to be clinical when the opportunity arose.

And how clinical they were to score one of the goals of the season that started with Votíková and ended with Thomas blowing the roof off the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium after an hour. A devastating move, working the ball across the pitch found Thomas in the middle with all kinds of space. 

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Marauding away to her right was Celine Bizet. She took the ball in her stride, driving into the Arsenal box where Thomas had continued her run. She was rewarded with a slide rule pass from Bizet and the Scottish international poked home past Zinsberger to the delight of the Tottenham faithful.

It clearly impressed Vilahamn, who said after the game: “That’s how a Tottenham Hotspur team should score a goal.”

Arsenal fail to find a way back

Arsenal looked to respond quickly. Russo drew another sharp save from Votíková, who was quickly down to gather a well-taken volley from the England forward. By now, the Arsenal pressure was incessant, but even with the introduction of Vivianne Miedema, Tottenham’s defence held firm.

Amanda Illestedt headed over from a corner and one of the myriad of Arsenal crosses was cleared by Angharad James, with Foord lurking behind her. Votíková held well from Kyra Cooney-Cross with Russo on hand to take advantage of any spillage.

In a manner reminiscent to their opening day defeat to Liverpool, Arsenal reverted to crossing the ball seemingly at will. A task Tottenham were more than up to. Illestedt punched a header from another corner over the bar with four minutes left to play

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All eyes turned to the fourth official, who signalled 11 minutes of additional time. A mere 11 minutes between Tottenham and history. Vilaham’s team threw themselves in front of the ball as if their lives depended on it. 

Arsenal earned a free-kick some 35 yards from goal after eight minutes of stoppage time. 

Steph Catley’s ball in was cleared only as far as Cooney-Cross on the edge of the box. The Australian unleashed a strike that for once had Votíková beaten only for James to head away off the line.

Read: Tactics: How Chelsea tried to break down Häcken defence

Into the 13th minute of added time, and one last chance for Arsenal to salvage a point from a corner.

Up came Zinsberger, to the delight of goalkeepers everywhere. Again, Tottenham dealt with the set piece and the ball fell to Naz on the edge of the box. She raced away towards the empty Arsenal net.

Naz squared to the supporting Rosella Ayane on the halfway line, who had the seemingly simple task of rolling the ball home to secure the points only to be denied by Cloe Lacasse.

The Gunners time had run out and Cheryl Foster blew for full-time in the North London Derby to kickstart Tottenham’s Christmas celebrations.

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