Arsenal U18s 4-1 City U18s
Wednesday, April 22, 2009, 7pm
Emirates Stadium - Att: 9,266
Arsenal: Shea, Eastmond, Cruise (Evina 77), Frimpong, Bartley, Ayling, Wilshere (Freeman 88), Coquelin, Sunu (Afobe 77), Watt, Emmanuel-Thomas.
Unused subs: Mann, Ozyakup.
City: Clegg, Trippier, Cunningham, Wabara, Boyata, Tutte, Benali, Ibrahim, Mak (Cieslewicz 72), Nimely-Tchuimeni (Redshaw 41), Chantler (Guidetti 82).
Unused subs: E Johansen, Elabdellaoui.
Goals: 1-0 (Watt 1), 2-0 (Wilshere 21), 3-0 (Bartley 29), 4-0 (Watt 31), 4-1 (Ibrahim 44).
Referee: K Woolmer
It was a warm & sunny evening in north London, with a decent crowd populating three-quarters of the lower tier in this, arguably England’s best football stadium. Many of the crowd were still settling into their seats when City’s already difficult task became much, much harder. Our first foray forward in the first minute came to nothing, and a long ball from Arsenal’s defence went all the way over the top to Sanchez Watt, who outpaced the Blues’ backline to go one-on-one with Clegg, before calmly placing the ball past the City keeper. Tom Cruise was at left-back for Arsenal, and it did look like “Mission: Impossible” for City now – but with 89 minutes left time was in our favour.
City now had to score twice to level the tie, with away goals not counting in the FA Youth Cup. Ibrahim’s diving header within a minute went straight at Shea, who was forced to make a more difficult stop just afterwards, diving away to his left to parry Trippier’s well-hit shot.
The home side were content to soak up the pressure and hit on the break, repelling a series of corners before Cruise broke away to cross to Coquelin, whose good leap and header forced Clegg into a save to his right.
The young Gunners doubled their lead on 21 minutes after Watt had once more proved to be a nuisance. The lanky striker burst into the box past Wabara and after Clegg hauled him down referee Woolmer pointed straight to the spot. Jack Wilshere stepped up to take the penalty and placed it to Clegg’s left, but the City stopper did well to get a hand to it and on another day it might have gone wide of the post.
Arsenal were going for the kill, and they went even further ahead to surely put the tie beyond City on 29 minutes. Wilshere swung in a corner from the near side and Kyle Bartley rose above the defence to hammer a header past Clegg’s left hand.
We were still catching our breaths from that when Arsenal added a fourth. Clegg passed short to Wabara, who dithered and was caught in possession on the edge of the box by Sanchez Watt. The striker threw off the defender’s attentions and threaded the ball past Clegg to make it 6-1 on aggregate after just 31 minutes.
Emmanuel-Thomas popped up behind the City defence on 41, but Clegg made a fine save to deflect his shot over his bar. The resulting corner came to nothing, and City broke away to have their best chance of the game so far. Tripper beat the offside trap and elected to go for goal with Mak in a good position in the middle, and Shea was forced to make a fine save.
The prolific Jack Redshaw replaced the struggling Nimely-Tchuimeni on 42 minutes, and he immediately had an impact as City reduced the deficit. Redshaw dragged the goalkeeper wide and then looked up to feed Ahmad Benali, who swept the ball home with his left foot from near the penalty spot. There was still time before the break for Arsenal to clear a Boyata header off the line, but despite Benali’s goal a 6-2 lead for Arsenal was surely going to be too much for City to claw back in the last 45 minutes.
After such a first half, you felt there would be more goals and City did their best to give Arsenal something to think about. Redshaw found the side-netting on 49 minutes, and Tutte’s shot two minutes later was charged down. Ibrahim did superbly to stay on his feet on the edge of the box before feeding Chantler, who delayed slightly and could not get a shot away.
Redshaw had been a threat ever since coming on, and just after the hour mark he could have reduced the arrears even further, but after going one-on-one with Shea he delayed for a crucial second and Bartley denied him with a last-ditch challenge.
Adrian Cieslewicz replaced Robbie Mak with 18 minutes left, and working the right flank he came close to setting up Dedryck Boyata almost immediately, the defender just inches short of getting a touch inside the six yard area. A mix-up on the edge of our area with a quarter of an hour left allowed Wilshere a chance to make it five, but the highly-rated 17-year-old’s angled shot flew just over Clegg’s crossbar. Redshaw forced Shea into another good save in stoppage time.
Overall, City had had the better of the second half and deserved a goal to show something for their efforts, but Arsenal’s devastating early blitz had done the damage and given them breathing space. Credit to the young Blues for not folding completely after such an onslaught, but the defence of the FA Youth Cup had come to an end.