FA PREMIER RESERVE LEAGUE
Arsenal 4-0 Spurs
One journalist amongst a sizeable press pack at Highbury summed up this encounter in a nutshell. ‘Spurs couldn’t buy a goal’ he said and he was spot on because, despite Arsenal’s obvious dominance, we carved out chance after chance but just couldn’t find the net.
In the end no less than 10 chances came and went, starting as early as the third minute when Yannick Kamanan fired a one-on-one opportunity wide and ending five minutes from time when Ian Hillier headed John Piercy’s cross over from eight yards.
The result was perhaps no surprise as Gunners kicked-off with first team regulars Dennis Bergkamp, Silvhino and Ray Parlour alongside high-profile squad members Manninger and Nelson Vivas.
Mauricio Taricco made a successful comeback after eight months on the sidelines but apart from that only Piercy, Dave McEwen and Matthew Etherington had tasted Premiership action in another young line-up.
The spotlight fell very much on Bergkamp, trying to prove his fitness before the FA Cup Final, but the dominance of Parlour in the midfield was the key factor.
Gunners opened the scoring when Stefan Malz’s dinked finish over Gavin Kelly proved a fitting finale to a one-touch move after five minutes.
Disaster struck after 19 minutes. Kelly threw the ball out to Taricco but, under pressure, the full-back had little option but to return the ball home. Kelly’s clearance went straight to Malz, he found Berkgamp and he slid home for 2-0.
We looked shell-shocked for a few minutes after that but managed to claw our way back.
Yannick Kamanan must still be wondering how Manninger diverted his point-blank header onto the bar and over and in the space of five minutes Vivas deflected McEwen’s cross off Etherington’s toe, Kamanan scooped over from 10 yards and Hillier’s free-kick was saved well by Manninger.
Steven Ferguson then beat Manninger to a ball over the top but his lob unluckily bounced over the empty net.
Then the killer blow. Five minutes before the break Kelly saved well from Parlour but as the corner was cleared, Mendez picked up the ball 35 yards and ran straight through the defence before flicking home for 3-0.
The second half followed a similar pattern. It was only six minutes old when Kamanan somehow failed to connect with Etherington’s cross barely five yards from goal only for Arsenal to go straight up the other end and add a fourth via Malz.
It was then just chance after chance. Hillier headed Piercy’s free-kick over and the same combination ended with Hillier heading wide from eight yards.
The excellent Etherington provided another pinpoint cross that John Jackson fired against Manninger from eight yards and after a couple of chances went astray from Tomas Danilevicius at the other end, the game’s final opportunity fell again to Hillier, who headed over from 10 yards.
Arsenal Res: Manninger, Vivas, Silvhino, Parlour (Demel, 75), Canoville, Chilvers, Mendez (Lincoln, 65), Barrett, Danilevicius, Bergkamp (Kuffour, 72), Malz. Unused subs: Spicer, Taylor.
Spurs Res: Kelly, Consorti, Taricco (Lacy, 65), Piercy, Hillier, Toner, McEwen, Jackson, Ferguson, Kamanan (Sutton, 62), Etherington. Unused subs: Quilter, Galbraith, Burch.
By Paul Miles at Highbury