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Sunday, 15 April, 2001, 17:08 GMT 18:08 UK
Arsenal strike title blow
Arsenal's Jayne Ludlow in the Premier League Cup Final
Jayne Ludlow shows her aerial prowess
By BBC Sport Online's women's football correspondent Tony Leighton.

Arsenal struck a decisive blow in the Women's Premier League championship chase when Jayne Ludlow's late goal gave the leaders a 1-0 victory at second in the table Doncaster Belles.

The result smashed Donny's 100% League record and stretched Arsenal's lead over their only realistic title rivals to four points, though the Belles have a game in hand.

While the Gunners were edging a little closer to their fifth League championship in nine seasons, bottom of the table Liverpool slipped nearer relegation when a 2-1 defeat at Barry Town left them nine points adrift of the safety positions with only five games remaining.

Doncaster Belles 0-1 Arsenal

Defiant Doncaster manager Julie Chipchase refused to give up on her team's title aspirations after losing to Arsenal for the third time this season.

The Gunners, who had already knocked the Belles out of both the FA Cup and the Premier League Cup, made it a hat-trick of vital victories when Welsh international midfielder Ludlow hit their 84th minute winner.

But Donny edged the possession over the 90 minutes and Chipchase said: "There's no way we are going to concede the title when there's still quite a way to go.

"There are one or two areas of our game we need to improve, but we deserved at least a draw from today's game and it was only a defensive blunder that cost us the points.

"We still have to play Arsenal at their place though - and there's no reason why we can't win all our other games then go there and beat them to win the title."

The Belles certainly had their chances to beat them on home territory.

In an evenly fought first half, England striker Karen Walker missed a couple of good openings, though at the other end her international colleague Marieanne Spacey wasted two chances for the Gunners.

As Donny took control in the second period, Walker, Melanie Garside and Karen Burke all failed to take opportunities while they also had a penalty appeal turned down after Walker had appeared to be upended by Ludlow.

The only goal of the game arrived when former England captain Gill Coultard under-hit a back-pass towards goalkeeper Leanne Hall, who was beaten to the ball by Ludlow for the midfielder to toe-poke a shot into the empty net.

Charlton Athletic 1-0 Everton

An Emma Moore goal gave Charlton victory over third in the table Everton and lifted the fourth-placed Addicks to within eight points of the Merseysiders - over whom they still have five games in hand.

A long ball out of defence by Sarah Wathen set up Moore to lob in the 26th minute goal which earned the reigning League champions three points.

Everton had the better of the second half and went close to equalising when a fine effort by Danish midfielder Gitte Pedersen was brilliantly saved by England goalkeeper Pauline Cope.

Sunderland 4-5 Tranmere Rovers

Melissa Cook settled a nine-goal thriller with Tranmere's winner six minutes from time.

The game was open throughout but there was no hint of what was to follow after an opening 42 minutes which boasted only one goal.

Melanie Carr shot the home side ahead in the sixth minute and it was not until two minutes before the interval that Sue Smith equalised.

Julia Merola put Rovers ahead seconds before the break, but five minutes into the second period Donna Lanaghan brought the scores back to level pegging.

An incredible 10 minutes then saw the ball hit the net five times, the first of them when England winger Smith bagged her second goal in the 74th minute.

Merola hit her second to stretch the visitors' lead, but then Lisa Langrish struck two goals in two minutes to once more bring Sunderland level - only for Cook to come up with the winner for fifth in the table Tranmere.

Barry Town 2-1 Liverpool

Barry boosted their survival hopes with a victory which lifted them four points off the relegation zone while keeping Liverpool pinned firmly to the bottom of the table.

Juliette Payne put the home side ahead in the 28th minute but Liverpool quickly hit back, Emma Davis equalising on the half-hour.

In a scrappy contest the visitors rarely looked like adding to their single goal and it was a 56th minute strike by Trudie Williams which gave Barry a victory they just about deserved.

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See also:

08 Apr 01 |  Football
Charlton teenager steals the show
01 Apr 01 |  Football
Belles hunt down Gunners
01 Apr 01 |  Football
Arsenal take Premier League Cup
23 Mar 01 |  Football
England ladies shine
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