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Page last updated at 18:04 GMT, Sunday, 10 May 2009 19:04 UK

Arsenal Ladies seal league title

By Tony Leighton

Rachel Yankey and Natasha Dowie
Everton and Arsenal battled for the fourth time this season on Sunday

Scotland striker Suzanne Grant hit the goal as Arsenal won 1-0 at Everton to claim their sixth successive Women's Premier League title.

The win completed the treble of League, FA Cup and League Cup and marked manager Vic Akers' retirement - 22 years after he formed the Arsenal team.

Grant hooked the ball home from close range following a Kim Little corner after 13 minutes.

Everton went close when striker Natasha Dowie headed just over the bar.

Akers was not present himself as his full-time job as kit man for the Arsenal men's team meant he was at the Emirates Stadium for their game against Chelsea.

But he was able to keep in touch by telephone with progress at the Halton Stadium in Widnes, where victory saw his team lift their 32nd major trophy.

And after having to rebuild the side after losing seven key players in the last 12 months, this latest triumph was perhaps the sweetest, according to captain Faye White.

England skipper White, who watched from the bench as she is recovering from a knee injury, said: "That's the 10th time we've won the league but this is the most satisfying because we've lost so many big players.

"It proves you can't keep a good club down and it's a great send-off for Vic."

Paying tribute to Akers, White added: "Vic had a vision for the women's game and he's worked 24/7 at making it happen.

"He developed the links with the men's club and always fought for the backing that we've now got - and he made us the best team in the country."

Arsenal had gone into the game needing to win as Everton, who beat them 3-0 six weeks ago, were three points clear at the top though with an inferior goal difference.

The home side almost took the lead after just three minutes, when midfielder Jill Scott had a goalbound header well saved by goalkeeper Emma Byrne.

Grant found the net 10 minutes later and both sides then went close to scoring either side of half-time, with Dowie almost netting a 63rd-minute equaliser.

But despite some heavy Everton pressure at times, the Gunners held on for victory.

Everton manager Mo Marley said: "Overall I thought we were the better team and we couldn't have done much more.

"To lose the league on goal difference is bitterly disappointing, but we took it to the wire and we'll be bigger and stronger for the experience come next season."



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