Women's Super League: Arsenal begin season with victory

By Tony Leighton Women's football correspondent

A dramatic start to the Women's Super League season included three sendings-off, two of them for Bristol Academy players in their 4-1 win at Liverpool.

Grace McCatty was dismissed for what appeared to be a stamp and Corinne Yorston saw red during an ugly melee.

Everton's Brooke Chaplen was booked twice in the first half of the Toffees' 3-2 defeat at champions Arsenal.

Last year's runners-up Birmingham City had to come from behind twice to force a 2-2 draw at Lincoln.

The final match on the opening weekend of fixtures, Chelsea's meeting with Doncaster Belles, is set for Monday afternoon.

Arsenal 3-2 Everton

The first game to kick off on the opening day of the campaign had quite a start, Toni Duggan shooting Everton in front with a superb 25-yard strike after just five minutes.

But Arsenal gradually fought their way into contention and drew level through a neat 18th-minute finish by striker Danielle Carter.

Eleven minutes later the Gunners took the lead, midfielder Jordan Nobbs racing on to a Rachel Yankey pass to calmly slot the ball home.

Midfielder Chaplen then saw red seven minutes before the interval for her second bookable offence, the first having been committed in only the second minute.

Arsenal wasted the chance to press home their advantage when Scotland midfielder Kim Little missed a penalty nine minutes into the second half.

And 60 seconds later they paid the price when England Under-21 winger Duggan headed in her second goal to bring the scores level.

An unlikely draw looked a possibility for the battling visitors, but midfielder Katie Chapman headed the Gunners back in front in the 65th minute.

The home side then had chances to increase their lead, but in front of an enthralled crowd of 705 they were happy to settle for a one-goal margin of victory.

Liverpool 1-4 Bristol Academy

Bristol's victory was comfortable enough, but the result was overshadowed by controversy in stoppage time of a game watched by only 105 spectators.

The visitors took the lead through a 20th-minute penalty by Jess Fishlock, who added a second goal direct from a corner two minutes into the second half.

Two minutes later Nicki Watts headed in the third goal, and it was game over when Melissa Lawley struck to make it 4-0 in the 56th minute.

Nicki Twohig hit an 89th-minute consolation goal for the home side, but that was not the end of the action.

McCatty appeared to stamp on the grounded Katie Brissell, who had to be carried off on a stretcher wearing a neck-brace, and the Bristol defender was shown a straight red card.

The incident sparked off a confrontation involving players of both sides and the game was brought back to order only after Yorston had also seen red.

Lincoln 2-2 Birmingham

A comparatively tame affair at Lincoln was none the less action-packed as both teams went all out for an opening-day victory.

The home side went ahead after just 10 minutes through former Blues striker Precious Hamilton, who cleverly lobbed goalkeeper Rebecca Spencer from 20 yards.

England winger Karen Carney headed in the equaliser on the half-hour to silence the home supporters in a crowd of 310.

But the Lincoln fans were back on their feet four minutes after the break as midfielder Remi Allen struck home a penalty following a foul on England winger Jess Clarke.

Clarke's international colleague Eni Aluko brought the scores level for a second time, however, curling in a beautifully struck 18-yard shot in the 68th minute.

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