Martha Thomas’ ninth goal of the season fired Tottenham to a maiden victory over Arsenal in the Women’s Super League.
Jonas Eidevall’s Arsenal entered this fixture eyeing an eighth consecutive league win, but the day belonged to his fellow Swedish coach Robert Vilahamn, who claimed a statement result at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
Under the watchful eye of Spurs men’s boss Ange Postecoglou and chairman Daniel Levy, Vilahamn’s team held firm during a tight first half and produced a superb team move in the 58th minute, which was expertly finish by Thomas.
The visitors pushed for a late response, but could not find a way through to hand Tottenham a 1-0 win and a first triumph over their rivals at the eighth time of asking in the WSL.
The two rivals warmed up for this league fixture with an entertaining 3-3 draw in the Conti Cup on Wednesday, but chances were far and far between in the opening stages.
It took until the 12th minute for the first opportunity of note when a Caitlin Foord effort deflected wide to earn Arsenal a corner.
Eidevall’s side produced a neat short corner routine and it should have resulted in the opener, but Alessia Russo inexplicably headed wide from four-yards.
Spurs had shipped 11 goals in their last two WSL matches, which saw Vilahamn hand Barbora Votikova a first league start and the post came to her rescue soon after when Foord again cut inside and rifled a shot against the woodwork.
Tottenham were forced to replace centre-back Luana Buhler minutes later before Arsenal had penalty appeals waved away after Beth Mead went down after contact from Ashleigh Neville.
The hosts were able to regroup afterwards though and Celin Bizet posed questions of the visitors defence with two dangerous runs down the right.
Arsenal still looked the more threatening and Votikova saved well from Frida Maanum not long after Foord had directed another effort off target to ensure it remained goalless at the break.
Bethany England, only recently back from hip surgery, was withdrawn at the break but it was the away side who came out with better intent.
Russo squandered another fine headed opportunity from a Mead cross after 50 minutes before Votikova saved well from long-range efforts by McCabe and Maanum.
Molly Batrip brilliantly blocked a Mead shot moments later and it appeared Arsenal were edging closer to the breakthrough, but they were stunned by the hosts in the 58th minute.
Under pressure at the back, Tottenham kept their composure brilliantly and six passes after Votikova had possession inside her own penalty area, Vilahamn’s team were down the other end and Thomas had poked home following Bizet’s perfectly-weighted pass.
Arsenal immediately set about finding a response and Votikova saved Russo’s volley before Eidevall turned to his bench with Vivianne Miedema and top-goalscorer Stina Blackstenius introduced.
The game had to be paused in the 83rd minute owing to a medical emergency in the designated away end and while Miedema hooked over in the first minute of 11 added on, Spurs held on for a memorable win.