Coventry City Ladies lost 4-0 against the reigning Women's Super League champions, Arsenal...
Coventry City Ladies suffered a 4-0 defeat against Arsenal Ladies despite a spirited second-half performance.
The reigning Women's Super League champions, which fielded a team of seven internationals, faced City in their first pre-season match in preparation for the 2013/14 FA Women's Premier League Southern Division season.
After the successes of the 2012/13 season, the fixture attracted a record City Ladies attendance at the Bedworth Oval and the players responded with a strong start.
Maz Gauntlett was the first to test the Gunners defence when she burst through in the 6th minute and directed her fierce shot wide before Ash Neville almost capitalised on a keeper's mistake five minutes later.
With England internationals Jordan Nobbs and Katie Chapman featuring for Arsenal, they began to wield their influence on the game. Caroline Weir and Carla Humphrey both tested City keeper Sue Wood within the first half-hour, but Wood parried both efforts away.
Wood's best save came five minutes before the break when Jordan Nobbs found space just outside the area and her low strike seemed to be heading towards the bottom corner, but the City keeper pulled off a brilliant save.
City forward Ash Neville had a header saved from a City corner before Caroline Weir put Arsenal ahead on the stroke of half-time. Nobbs' low strike was well saved by Wood but the rebound fell into the path of Weir who tucked home.
City didn't settle at the start of the second-half and fell further behind in the 47th minute when Weir grabbed her brace with a brilliant half-volley.
The Gunners continued to control the game and Chapman could have put the away side further in front in the 54th minute, but her goal-bound effort was cleared off the line by City captain Natalie Lynch.
The Sky Blues kept battling throughout the match and almost pulled themselves back into the game. The influential Helen Dermody found space on the right side of the area before pulling it back for Karen Clough to put her shot narrowly past the left-hand post in the 63rd minute.
Wood continued to deny Arsenal in the City goal, pulling off a finger-tip save from Jade Bailey's header and denying a low Freda Ayisi strike in the 72nd minute.
As the game drifted into the last 15 minutes, Arsenal, who are currently half-way through their WSL Season, made their extra fitness count.
Carla Humphrey added a third for the Gunners after a neat interchange with Gemma Harrison on the edge of the area with nine minutes to go.
Gauntlett almost pulled one back for the Sky Blues when her header hit the bar with three minutes left before Davidson slotted home a deserved goal in the final minute of the game.
Coventry City Ladies: Wood, Walton, Lynch, Wilcox, Toussaint, Dale, Anderson, Dermody, Neville, Formaston, Gauntlett.
Subs: Ward, Clough, Mole, Barber, De Campos, Simpson
Arsenal Ladies: Byrne, Bartrip, Tracy, Bailey, Flaherty, Nobbs, Weir, Ayisi, Davidson, Chapman, Humphrey.
Subs: Ayisi, Back, Robb, Bragg, Mitchell.