FA Youth Cup semi final first leg
Manchester City v Arsenal
Wednesday, March 18th, 2009, 7.0pm
City of Manchester Stadium - Att: 2,615
City: Clegg, Trippier, Cunningham, Wabara, Boyata, Tutte, Benali, Ibrahim, Mak (Redshaw 86), Nimely-Tchuimeni (Elabdellaoui 75), Chantler (Helan 86).
Unused subs: E Johansen, Tse.
Arsenal: Shea, Eastman, Cruise, Frimpong, Bartley, Ayling, Wilshere, Coquelin, Sunu, Watt, Thomas.
Unused subs: Evina, Mann, Deacon, Freeman, Atobe.
Goals: 1-0 (Nimely-Tchuimeni 41), 1-1 (Thomas 71), 1-2 (Sunu 81)
Arsenal: Frimpong (26), Ayling (65)
Referee: A Penn
City named a strong team, with no room at the start for the prolific Jack Redshaw. The visitors boasted Premier League experience in the shape of the highly-rated Jack Wilshere, and among their coaches they could look to the wisdom of Steve Bould and Steve Gatting – brother of England cricketer Mike. A glance at the teamsheet also told onlookers that Tom Cruise was here – playing at left-back for the Gunners!
A cagey opening spell ended when Nimely-Tchuimeni shook off his marker to unleash a strong effort from long range that Shea did well to tip over his bar.
The Liberian was our main threat and was a nuisance to the Arsenal back four, and on 23 minutes he did well to get out of the corner and feed Ibrahim, who was hauled down on the edge of the box. Cunningham’s free kick brought a great save out of Shea, who managed to tip it onto the bar – but the linesman was the only person in the ground who did not see the save, instead denying us a corner and giving a goal kick!
On the half-hour mark the two opposing number 11s went close. First of all, Thomas drove a free kick goalwards but saw the City defence block the effort. Within seconds, Chantler was just short of touching a great through ball past Shea, but the Arsenal keeper raced to the edge of his box and denied him the chance.
Nimely-Tchuimeni set up a good chance within a minute, crossing to Ibrahim, but he could not get on top of it and the ball looped over. City were creating more opportunities now, with Chantler seeing a well-hit low shot charged down in the 33rd minute.
It felt like a goal was coming, and on 41 minutes three of last year’s cup-winning veterans combined to put us ahead. Boyata kept a cool head to clear from inside the box while under pressure and find Trippier. The right-back showed Arsenal a clean pair of heels and then put a long pass upfield to Alex Nimely-Tchuimeni, who ran into the box and then smashed the ball past Shea at the near post. After the inevitable dancing celebration, the young goal scorer was off to embrace the bench before resuming.
Arsenal were marginally the better side after the break but despite applying some pressure the nearest they came to an equaliser was when Clegg dropped a Wilshere corner that was then cleared with ease. At the other end, Robbie Mak was almost clear of the Gunners defence before being held back by Ayling, who went into the book.
There were nervy moments in the 69th minute when a testing cross from the left nearly found Coquelin, but bravery from Cunningham saw the City left back clear the ball behind off the Arsenal number eight, copping a limp for his troubles.
The woodwork kept the score at 1-0 on 70 minutes, Ayling’s shot taking a deflection onto Clegg’s right post and going wide, but within a minute the visitors had levelled the score. Wilshere swung in a corner to the near post, and Jay Thomas nipped in to squeeze a header through a crowded area and past Clegg.
It could have been worse for City a minute later, Coquelin heading against the crossbar. The visitors were having the better of the game now, and with 15 minutes left a great tackle by Wabara inside the area denied Watt the chance to push the ball past Clegg.
The Blues got their heads up and forced a couple of corners, but then with nine minutes to go the visitors hit back to take the lead. The Gunners threaded the ball through to Gilles Sunu, who moved into the right hand side of the area and then drove the ball back across Clegg and into the far corner.
City threw on their last two subs, Redshaw & Helan with five minutes to go, but it was Arsenal who went closest to scoring when Thomas curled a free kick from the edge of the area and onto the bar as we entered stoppage time.
Three minutes were added on, but the visitors kept City out to inflict the Under 18s’ first defeat of the season and take a lead into the second leg at the Emirates Stadium on April 22nd.