Izzy Christiansen’s thumping second-half header secured a first trophy for the Blues who have capped off a memorable season in the best possible style.
City, having finished a creditable fifth in their first Premier League campaign were up against an Arsenal side who finished one place higher in the table and won this trophy for three years in succession.
The two league meetings offered little in the way of an indication as to which way this game would go, with the Blues beating Arsenal away earlier on in the season and the Gunners winning the return game in Manchester.
The bookies had the North Londoners down as favourites, but the opportunity to create a bit of club history meant past meetings meant little – but would the occasion the get the better of the Blues?
...City 1 Arsenal 0...
Nick Cushing’s side looked edgy in the opening exchanges with a number of passes going astray.
Indeed, with just nine minutes on the clock the failure to clear the ball almost resulted in Arsenal going ahead as Karen Bardsley’s poor clearance fell to Rachel Yankey who missed the target from eight yards out with the goal at her mercy.
The Blues struggled to string two passes together against a strong looking Arsenal side who were stronger in the challenge and generally quicker to the ball and it was half-an-hour before City created a chance of note with Jill Scott’s clever bit of skill creating a chance that ultimately came to nothing.
That was perhaps a wake-up call to Arsenal who, despite all their possession still had nothing to show, but they should have gone ahead on 35 minutes when Danielle Carter muscled her way through to fire a powerful shot at goal from couple of yards out, only to be denied by a superb Bardsley reflex save.
Bardsley came to the rescue again just before the break, smothering another chance for Yankey as the Blues rode their luck, somewhat
...City 1 Arsenal 0..
City, however, grew in confidence and stature after the break, perhaps sensing this could be their night after all.
Krystle Johnstone was starting to cause problems for the Gunners down the right flank and when Jill Scott’s clever back-heel put her in behind the Arsenal defence, her low cross just eluded Toni Duggan in the six-yard box.
It was a warning that went unheeded by Arsenal as City, much the better team after the break, deservedly took the lead on 73 minutes with a goal that oozed class.
Scott drove forward and fed Johnston whose sumptuous cross was met on the full by the head of Christiansen for a goal worthy of winning any cup final.
The Blues, now dominant, almost doubled their lead on 81 minutes when Steph Houghton’s free-kick was pushed onto the underside of the bar.
Then Scott’s clever weaving run almost sealed the win a minute from time, but the midfielder just overran the ball at the vital moment, but it still needed a brave save from Bardsley deep into injury time to protect the lead.
Despite almost seven minutes of added time, Cushing’s team held on to deservedly win the trophy that everybody hopes will be the first of many.