Arsenal U18s 5-3 Spurs U18s
Report from London Colney
23 September 2015|Tottenham Hotspur
Our fast-starting Under-18s saw their efforts undone after the break as Arsenal recovered from a 3-2 half-time deficit to win 5-3 on Wednesday morning (September 23).
Marcus Edwards and Kazaiah Sterling struck early to give us a two-goal advantage inside nine minutes at the Gunners’ training ground.
But the hosts got back into the Barclays Under-18 Premier League contest and goalkeeper Tom McDermott made a series of fine saves either side of the break to keep us in with a chance.
Ultimately, though, it was the two players introduced as half-time substitutes by the Gunners who turned the game in their favour, Tyrell Robinson (2) and Eddie Nketiah finding the net in the second period to secure the spoils for the home side.
We got off to a fine start to the game and took the lead after just two minutes. Sterling won the ball on the right and passed to Edwards, who in turn sent Keanan Bennetts scurrying into space on the opposite side of the box. His initial shot was repelled by Gunners goalkeeper Hugo Keto, but he latched onto the rebound and cut back for Edwards to fire home from a central position, despite the best efforts of defender Kostas Pileas to get himself in the way of it.
Seven minutes later we doubled our lead as Armani Daly pulled the ball back from close to the byline on the right to present Sterling with a routine finish inside the near post – his second goal in three days after also finding the net in our Under-21s’ goal-fest with Leicester City earlier in the week.
Arsenal started to get forward more frequently as the half went on and after Josh Da Silva’s left-footed free-kick was comfortably gathered by McDermott it was Yassin Fortune who rose highest in the box to head home Nathan Tella’s cross and halve our lead with 20 minutes gone.
We hit back four minutes later, though, with a fine passing move that outfoxed the Arsenal defence. Zenon Stylianides picked out Sterling in the right channel and he in turn found Edwards in space in the box – the latter taking a touch before clipping the ball past Keto to restore our two-goal lead.
Back came the Gunners once more, however, as Reiss Nelson was tripped by centre-half Jaden Brown in our penalty area, with the same player tucking away the resulting spot kick on 27 minutes despite McDermott diving the right way.
McDermott then managed to claw Charlie Gilmour’s free header from six yards out away to his left to keep us in the lead, while he made another fine stop on the stroke of half-time after Nelson wriggled into a shooting position in the box. In between those saves, a Charlie Owens (pictured, above) corner had caused problems for the hosts with Brown seeing two shots blocked in quick succession at the back post.
The Gunners made a double change at the break with Robinson and Nketiah entering the fray and they made a purposeful start to the second period, Robinson advancing down the left side and lashing into the net from the angle on 51 minutes to get his side back on level terms.
Arsenal continued in the ascendancy but were initially denied a fourth goal by some courageous goalkeeping from McDermott on 57 minutes. First he kept out Da Silva’s effort following Tella’s cross from point-blank range and within a split second he was back up and diving back across his goal to palm away Fortune’s drive on the follow-up.
His resistance was finally breached two minutes later, though, as Robinson blasted into the net through a crowded area, despite the keeper getting his fingertips to the ball at full stretch.
We then began to control the possession once more but found openings limited. Sterling had a good chance to level on 72 minutes after Edwards slipped the ball through to him on the left side, but Pileas threw himself in the way of his shot and Arsenal were able to clear their lines.
Edwards set up Stylianides to shoot from the edge of the box four minutes from time but his effort deflected up off a defender and looped into Keto’s arms.
The Gunners, however, put the game to bed in the 90th minute as Da Silva sent Nketiah racing through one-on-one with McDermott and the Arsenal man made no mistake to complete a 5-3 win for his side.
Spurs U18s: McDermott, Paul, Muscatt, Owens, Tanganga (Marsh 46), Brown, Daly (Duncan 53), Stylianides, Sterling, Edwards, Bennetts (Loft 66). Substitutes (not used): Shashoua, Austin (GK).