Women’s football’s showpiece match of the season takes place at Doncaster’s Keepmoat Stadium as Arsenal Ladies take on Bristol Academy in the 2013 FA Women’s Cup Final.
This year marks 20 years since the Football Association took over the running of the women’s game and the 2013 final will be staged at the home of Doncaster Rovers Belles, one of women’s football’s most famous clubs, who won the first Women’s Cup under the FA’s auspices in 1994.
The match also returns to terrestrial television for the first time since 2009 as BBC Two and BBC Two HD screens live coverage on Sunday, May 26, signalling the start of an amazing summer of women’s football with the UEFA Women’s Euro 2013 finals following in July.
Eleven-time winners Arsenal Ladies will face Bristol Academy in the final of the competition for the second in three seasons.
Arsenal emerged as 2-0 winners in 2011 at the Ricoh Arena, in what was Bristol Academy’s cup final debut, thanks to goals from Kim Little and Julie Fleeting.
Little was recently crowned the first ever PFA Women’s Player of the Year and she will again be likely to play a key influence in the game.
The perennial finalists from north London saw off Liverpool Ladies 2-1 in the semi-finals, while Bristol Academy beat Lincoln 2-0.
Despite being strong favourites to lift the Women’s Cup trophy aloft for a twelfth time, the Arsenal Ladies side is well aware of the threat posed by their opposition.
The Gunners won their most recent tie with the Vixens only a week before the final itself, but with both teams resting key players the 4-2 scoreline offers little indication of how the game might go in Doncaster.
Last week’s win in the Continental Cup brought the Arsenal team back to winning ways after a slow start to their Women’s Super League campaign.
The Londoners will be seeking to add another piece of silverware to their record Cup haul and back-to-back WSL crowns.
Mark Sampson’s Bristol Academy side made the final two years ago and their captain Corinne Yorston will want to make up for that defeat this time in Doncaster.
Bristol have had to negotiate tough ties against three other FA WSL sides – Doncaster, Everton and Lincoln – to reach their second final in three years.
Their squad boasts two under-23 England players as well as the England goalkeeper Siobhan Chamberlain, with an average age of just 21 and seven players who have come through the college programme at South Gloucestershire and Stroud College at Filton, representing the massive wealth of sporting talent in the city.
The Academy have a 100 percent record in the league campaign so far this season and the team has their eyes firmly set on what would be a defining victory for this relatively new club which has running in its current guise since 2005.
This year’s FA Women’s Cup has featured 283 clubs and now just two remain to lift the most famous and significant trophy in English women’s football.
The Women’s FA Cup Final returns to terrestrial television in 2013 after the BBC regained the rights to broadcast English womens football’s showpiece match.
Jacqui Oatley will present BBC Two’s live coverage of the 2013 final from the Keepmoat Stadium in Doncaster.
She will be joined by Sue Smith and Faye White for match analysis and discussion, plus special guest Casey Stoney, who has been capped more than 100 times for England, will also be part of the BBC on-air team.
Commentary comes from Jonathan Pearce and Lucy Ward, while Karthi Gnanasegaram will provide pitchside reports and interviews.
Commenting on the return of the Women’s Cup Final to BBC TV, Barbara Slater, director of BBC Sport, said: “We’re very pleased to renew our association with The FA Women’s Cup Final and offer live coverage of this key fixture to viewers.
“The Olympics provided a great showcase for the sport and demonstrated that there is a strong audience appetite to watch the top women’s teams in action.
“We’re looking forward to bringing more women’s football to audiences on the BBC across TV, radio and online this year.”
Last shown on free-to-air television in 2009 when it was covered by ITV, the Women’s FA Cup final has been shown on Sky Sports for the past three years.
The BBC previously covered the final for several years up to 2008 and the corporation has show an increased appetite for the women’s game in recent years.
It has followed England’s progress at major championships and gave a large amount of exposure to the widely praised Olympic tournament in 2012.
The 2013 Women’s Cup Final promises to signal the start of an bumper summer of women’s football, all building up to BBC TV’s live coverage of the UEFA Women’s Euro 2013 finals in July with coverage across BBC Two and BBC Three.
The first edition aired on May 20 and featured a special preview of the FA Women’s Cup final, including interviews and behind-the-scenes features with the key players from both the Arsenal and Bristol camps.
Later this year there will be four more shows providing goals round-ups, highlights and features, as well as looking ahead to England Women’s World Cup qualifiers which will also be shown live on BBC Two.
Sunday 26th May
FA Women’s Cup Final 2013: Arsenal v Bristol Academy
LIVE: 2.25pm-5.15pm – BBC Two*
*except Northern Ireland