On Wednesday evening, Arsenal Ladies played out a thoroughly entertaining 2-2 draw with Chelsea at a rain sodden Wheatsheaf Park. The Gunners took a first half lead through Jodie Taylor, before Mille Bright equalised for the Blues. Drew Spence’s 92nd minute strike looked to have given Chelsea the points.
But in the 95th minute, Dan Carter’s shot was cleverly flicked home by Jordan Nobbs to rescue a point. Tim Stillman spoke to an (understandably) exhausted Dan Carter after the match about the game, Saturday’s match with Birmingham, being left out of the England squad for Euro 2017 and her designs on a more central role in the future.
This is how you equalize with style. Jordan Nobbs with the 94th minute goal to level it at 2-2 for Arsenal against Chelsea. pic.twitter.com/InawKQQYhE
— Our Game Magazine (@OurGameMagazine) May 17, 2017
When I join Danielle Carter pitchside, fewer than 180 seconds have passed since her 95th minute effort on goal was flicked into the Chelsea net by Jordan Nobbs to snatch a last gasp equaliser. A pair of injury time goals have caused a frantic rewrite of my questions. “I’ve got a question here about how gutting it was to lose the game in the final seconds, but I guess that won’t be necessary any longer,” I beam, still a little giddy at the late strike.
“Oh no, we’re still gutted,” Carter answers, “We wanted to win the game and we were 1-0 up so we are still disappointed.” The 24-year old pauses for a second and considers, “I suppose we have to be happy with a point because we conceded in injury time, but we always want to win.” It is interesting and revealing that her instantaneous gut reaction was one of disappointment, even though the adrenaline of a late leveller away from home at last season’s WSL runners-up must’ve been coursing through her.
Carter is nothing if not determined. Despite the incredibly heavy surface at Staines Town and after 95 minutes of a slugfest with Chelsea, she still found the resources to power past a Blues defender to shoot at goal. Earlier in the match, her persistence won the Gunners’ their penalty, as she chased down Chelsea goalkeeper Carly Telford. Her presence panicked the England international goalkeeper, who spilled the greasy ball and ultimately fouled Carter as she pounced.
Over the last 2 years or so, Carter has blossomed into one of England’s hottest attacking properties. She was always a coruscating presence on the flanks, but she is beginning to regularly add end product to her game, as her two goals and assist against Liverpool showed a fortnight ago. “If you look at my stats, I’m more involved in our goals now. I feel like I can make things happen in the box. I need to keep building on that and make sure that even if I’m not scoring, that I’m creating situations for teammates.”
Having turned 24 on Thursday, it seems strange to consider Carter an old hand, but she has been a regular first team player for the last 3-4 years and is becoming gradually more senior as a result. “Yes, I do consider myself a senior player since I’ve been around for so long.
“We played with Lotte Wubben-Moy and Anna Patten at centre half tonight [both are 18] and they look up to me. They are outstanding players, mature well beyond their years. So I know I have to keep stepping up not only on the pitch, but also around the club and on the training ground.”
With Carter producing so regularly and honing her leadership skills, it was a little surprising that she was not selected in Mark Sampson’s Euro 2017 England squad. She scored hat-tricks home and away for her country against Estonia in qualifying. When I ask her how she took the news, Dan’s answer is typically forthright.
“I’m showing on the pitch how I’ve taken the news,” she asserts. “If I keep playing well, scoring and making goals, I’ll get back in. I was desperate to be on that plane but there’s a bigger picture, I want to be involved with England for many years and there will be other tournaments if I keep working hard.”
Carter has played largely as a left sided forward this season, occasionally swapping over to the right. Manager Pedro Losa has utilised her ability to sprint past full-backs and cut inside onto her right foot. She scored twice against Liverpool recently in exactly this manner. But Carter admits that she still has her eyes on a more central berth in the future.
“Yes, I was a striker in the youth teams when I came here. I’ve cemented a position in the first team in the wide areas and I am versatile like that, I can play on the left and the right and through the middle. I would like to play through the centre eventually, but I’ll play wherever the team needs me.”
Looking ahead to Saturday’s game against Birmingham City at The Hive, Carter knows the Gunners are in for another tough game. They couldn’t break the Blues down in either WSL encounter last season and fell to a 1-0 defeat in the West Midlands in the FA Cup in March. “Birmingham are a really strong side now.
“They really work together as a team and we’ll have to be at our absolute best to beat them.” Arsenal may well be helped by playing the game at Barnet’s Hive ground. The conditions are slightly more modern than those at Boreham Wood- which has been Arsenal’s home for many years now. But crucially, the pitch is larger and a little smoother at Barnet and Carter feels that this suits the team’s expansive style of play.
“The Hive is a really good ground and we always play really good football there. The pitch is a little bigger and it helps us to play our game a little more. Particularly for me out wide, it is a little easier to find space on the flanks. Birmingham won’t give us much space on Saturday, so we will have to use it as best we can.”
If you want to go along to Arsenal Ladies’ match against Birmingham City on Saturday, kickoff is at 1pm at The Hive. It’s £6 adults and £3 concessions and tickets are either available on the day, or you can buy them here.