Mead stars as Arsenal set up Women’s FA Cup final date with Chelsea
Beth Mead scored one goal and created two others against Brighton to send Arsenal into the delayed 2020-21 Women’s FA Cup final against Chelsea.
Mead set Kim Little up for the opener early in the second half before making it 2-0 with a cool finish soon after.
Leah Williamson sealed the victory with a third for the record 14-time cup winners from a Mead corner.
The Gunners will face London rivals Chelsea for the third time in six years at Wembley on 5 December.
Arsenal last won the Women’s FA Cup in 2016 by beating Chelsea 1-0, but lost their most recent final against Emma Hayes’ side in 2018.
Brighton manager Hope Powell said before the game her side “had more to gain than lose” in their tie against the Women’s Super League leaders and the Seagulls would “go out to enjoy” their first Women’s FA Cup semi-final for 45 years.
The former England boss would undoubtedly have enjoyed how her unfancied side held the hosts for so long – but that would provide scant consolation.
Even without all-time leading WSL goalscorer Vivianne Miedema, who has been given an extended rest after the international break, the Gunners still had Mead, Nikita Parris and Australian Caitlin Foord up front.
Powell insisted the “pressure would definitely” be on the Gunners to reach a record 17th final, which prompted Arsenal manager Jonas Eidevall to retort that he “doesn’t care what other people think” is expected of his team.
At Meadow Park, Arsenal delivered the dominant performance anticipated, even if Brighton did well for long spells to stifle them.
The Gunners had to wait until the 22nd minute to seriously threaten for the first time, at which point Foord had two chances. Denied first by Megan Walsh before sending a header narrowly wide from a Little cross.
Mead was then off target with a rare chance, while England team-mate Parris went close with a header that beat Walsh, but failed to get beyond the backtracking Victoria Williams on the line.
Arsenal played with greater intensity in the second half, with Mead doing well on the left before cutting a pass back in the 50th minute for Little to open the scoring from close range.
Four minutes later Mead doubled the advantage, starting the attack with a fine run from her own half before trading passes with Jordan Nobbs and side-footing home.
While Emma Koivisto went close at the other end, Brighton failed to respond before Williamson completed the ultimately comfortable win in the 76th minute.
Former Gunner Danielle Carter, who scored the Arsenal winner when they last lifted the trophy five years ago, was bright for the visitors, but chances were limited.
Awaiting Arsenal at Wembley is a Chelsea side looking to complete a belated domestic Treble after this competition was postponed by three months because of the pandemic.