Despite falling behind against the run of play to Danny Ballard's header from a free-kick, we produced an excellent performance from back to front at Boreham Wood FC to make it five games unbeaten in the division and give a further boost to our bid to move away from the drop zone.
An eventful afternoon for right-back Eyoma began when he headed in the equaliser shortly after the mid-way point of the first half. The introduction of his older brother AJ from Arsenal's bench in the second period saw the pair play against each other on opposite sides of a north London derby for the second time in their young careers and, when AJ was switched from the right to left wing, they were in direct competition with one another for a spell – TJ coming out on top in both duels between them!
Ultimately, it was a pair of stunning goals that won us the game, though. First, midfielder Skipp picked out the top corner with a superb first-time finish on his left foot with 12 minutes to go until half-time – his first goal in our colours.
And the game was effectively made safe when Keanan Bennetts scored a spectacular 25-yard free-kick shortly before the hour mark.
We still had to defend at times with Japhet Tanganga impressive on his return from a three-month injury lay-off, while George Marsh and Christian Maghoma made crucial interventions in the box to prevent our rivals from making a comeback. Jack Roles hit the bar for us late on.
The result puts us four points clear of the drop zone and three behind Manchester City in seventh, having played a game more in both instances.
SAVES: BOTH KEEPERS CALLED ON EARLY - 5-6mins
The match got off to a frenetic start and we had the first attempt at goal after five minutes when striker Reo Griffiths cleverly flicked the ball to Joe Pritchard with the inside of his foot and the midfielder's strike was palmed away to his right by Arsenal goalkeeper Matt Macey. Seconds later at the other end, Tanganga made a crucial block to take the sting out of Vlad Dragomir's eight-yard shot and Alfie Whiteman was able to smother the loose ball.
GOAL: ARSENAL 1-0 SPURS - DANNY BALLARD - 18mins
Arsenal began causing us problems cutting in towards the right side of the area and drew two fouls just outside the box, close to the byline. We dealt with the first free-kick well but four minutes later, Xavier Amaechi delivered a set-piece from a virtually identical spot and Ballard rose highest in the box to nod past Whiteman.
GOAL: ARSENAL 1-1 SPURS - TJ EYOMA - 25mins
The equaliser arrived seven minutes later and it also came from a set-piece. Bennetts fizzed a diagonal free-kick from deep towards the back post, Tanganga did well to nod it back across goal towards the far stick and Eyoma was there to head home.
Above: Keanan Bennetts celebrates after his goal.
GOAL: ARSENAL 1-2 SPURS - OLIVER SKIPP - 33mins
Skipp certainly picked his moment to score his first goal in Under-23 and Under-18 football combined – and what a strike it was! Samuel Shashoua picked out Pritchard down the right, he turned inside and laid off for Skipp, arriving late in the box, to apply a cultured first-time finish with his left foot that sent the ball spinning into the top corner.
GOAL: ARSENAL 1-3 SPURS - KEANAN BENNETTS - 57mins
Bennetts has scored some spectacular goals this season and he added another one to that list after a positive start to the second half where we produced some neat, one-touch play. Griffiths was hauled down by Arsenal goalscorer Ballard in a central position, 25 yards from goal, and Bennetts stepped up to curl the resulting free-kick up and over the wall and into the top corner with his left foot.
WOODWORK: ROLES CLOSE LATE ON - 89mins
Both teams threatened as the game went on, Marsh scrambling while on the floor to dispossess Dragomir in our box, Pritchard drilling wide and Griffiths being denied by the keeper for us before centre-half Maghoma blocked from Ballard following a Gunners corner, but it was substitute Roles who went closest to adding to the scoreline a minute from time. Good footwork from Griffiths in the middle allowed Skipp to get onto the ball and pick out Roles in the box on the left, but his strike hit the crossbar on its way over.
ASSISTANT COACH JUSTIN COCHRANE SAID
“It’s fantastic result. The boys showed good spirit and quality at the right moments and once again showed good character after going a goal down to recover, so a 3-1 win is very pleasing. All three goals were slightly different but still things we’ve worked on in training, especially the second one. It’s fantastic that the boys have taken on board what we’ve been working on and put it into practice out on the pitch and it was a good finish from Oliver (Skipp) to cap it off.
“We spoke about starting the game right, being on the front foot and taking the game to Arsenal. Even though we haven’t played for a little while we started quite brightly, then lost our way a little bit in the middle part of the first half, but in the second half we dominated with stylish football, quick passes and some effective front play as well. The free-kick from Keanan – he shows quality at times in training and it was a good finish, plus Reo Griffiths worked hard and caused them some problems as well, winning us the set-piece that led to the third goal, so he came out in credit too.”
Arsenal: Macey, Osei Tutu, Bola, Da Silva (c), Ballard, Medley, Coyle (Eyoma 62), Gilmour (Balogun 81), Dragomir, Smith Rowe, Amaechi. Substitutes (not used): Keto, Olowu, Smith.
Spurs: Whiteman, Eyoma, Georgiou, Marsh, C Maghoma (c), Tanganga (Brown 89), Bennetts, Skipp, Griffiths, Pritchard (Oakley-Boothe 66), S Shashoua (Roles 77). Substitutes (not used): O'Reilly, Duncan.
Goals: Arsenal - Ballard 18; Spurs - Eyoma 25, Skipp 33, Bennetts 57.
Yellow cards: Arsenal - Da Silva 31, Ballard 56, Gilmour 66; Spurs - Georgiou 14, Tanganga 28, S Shashoua 60.
Referee: Simon Barrow.
Attentions now turn to European action for many players in this group with our Under-19 UEFA Youth League quarter-final showdown with FC Porto coming up at Hotspur Way on Tuesday afternoon (kick-off 3pm, live on BT Sport). After a tremendous run in the competition which has seen us beat Borussia Dortmund, APOEL, Real Madrid and Monaco - the latter on penalties in the round of 16 last month - we'll now be looking to take the next step and qualify for the semi-finals, which take place along with the final in Switzerland later this season. Our next Premier League 2 outing isn't until Saturday 7 April when we host Derby in a rearranged fixture at Hotspur Way, kick-off 12pm.