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Heartbreak for U18s

Posted on 17 May 2009  - 12:00

Our Under-18s once again suffered heartbreak at the hands of arch rivals Arsenal as they lost out in the FA Premier Academy League Final at White Hart Lane.

Heartbreak for U18s

Our Under-18s once again suffered heartbreak at the hands of arch rivals Arsenal as they lost out in the FA Premier Academy League Final at White Hart Lane.

The lads were hoping to avenge a 3-1 FA Youth Cup quarter-final defeat at the hands of Steve Bould's men back in March.

But it wasn't to be as Rhys Murphy netted the only goal of the game on 50 minutes to bring what has been a fantastic season for our young side to a disappointing end.

However, for the fourth time this year, there was an impressive turnout at The Lane for an Academy game, proving the interest that is developing in our promising crop of young players.

Coach Alex Inglethorpe stuck with the same XI that defeated Sunderland in the semi-final on Wednesday.

As with our Youth Cup game with the Gunners, we got out of the traps quickly and perhaps had the better of the opening exchanges.

Jon Obika opened the scoring for us that night, and he had our best chance of the first half on nine minutes.

The striker chased down Calum Butcher's long ball, got into the box and beat two defenders before shooting straight at goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny.

But, in another repeat of the Youth Cup clash, the visitors got stronger as the half progressed, and would have been disappointed not to have gone into the break with a lead.

Oscar Jansson made good saves from Gilles Sunu and Henri Lansbury, while Murphy's attempted chip went just wide all inside the first 20 minutes.

But Arsenal's best spell of the half came in the last five minutes.

Francis Coquelin rose to meet Lansbury's corner, and Jansson did well to take pace off the powerful header before Danny Rose cleared off the line.

And their best chance came just moments later when Lansbury caught Nathan Byrne in possession and went clean through on goal, only to shoot wide with only Jansson to beat.

However, Arsenal did not have to wait long after the break before they took the lead.

Five minutes in, Sunu got the better of Steven Caulker on the right hand side of the penalty area, before sliding a low ball in across the face of goal, where Murphy was on-hand to finish unmarked.

It was the England Under-19 international's second goal at The Lane this season, having scored a late third in the Youth Cup tie back in March.

Rather than sit back on their lead, Arsenal continued to press, with captain Jay Thomas their driving force.

The big forward latched onto a throughball on 55 minutes and held off Caulker as he burst into our box, but Jansson did well to force him too wide to get a shot in.

Thomas skipped into our penalty area again on 71 minutes, and Jansson once again did well coming off his line to make the save, although it still required a goal-line clearance from Caulker as the ball looped up into the air.

Although Arsenal defender Luke Ayling was sent off for a second bookable offence just moments later, Steve Bould's men were in control.

Our only chance of note came 11 minutes from time when Obika laid off Mason's throw into the path of the on-running Adam Smith, who shot wide from inside the box. Mason also dragged a shot wide from the edge of the area in stoppage time.

Sanchez Watt, Lansbury and Emmanuelle Frimpong, who hit the bar, had further efforts on goal for the visitors, as what has been a great season for our Under-18s ended in disappointment.

Nonetheless, a great deal of credit must go to Alex Inglethorpe and Academy Manager John McDermott for the job they have done with this young side.

Some fantastic individual displays throughout the season have made it a memorable campaign, and our future certainly looks bright.

Spurs (4-4-1-1): Jansson; Smith, Caulker, Butcher, Byrne (Kasim, 59); Townsend, Cox, Parrett (Bostock, 86), Rose; Mason; Obika
Subs not used: Butler, Nicholson, Kane

Arsenal (4-4-2): Szczesny; Eastmond, Bartley, Ayling, Cruise (Evina, 62); Lansbury, Frimpong, Coquelin, Thomas; Murphy (Henderson, 81), Sunu (Watt, 66)
Subs not used: Shea, Boateng