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#U18 #MatchReport #Arsenal

Red card proves costly as Under-18s suffer first defeat

Arsenal 3-2 Spurs (Under-18 Premier League)

Tue 02 April 2019, 14:46|Tottenham Hotspur

Arsenal used the numbers game to mount a late turnaround as our 10-man Under-18s slipped to their first defeat of the season at London Colney on Tuesday lunchtime.

In a first-v-second clash with title ramifications in the Under-18 Premier League, we were too much for the Gunners to handle in the first half and were well worthy of the 2-0 lead given to us by Paris Maghoma and Harvey White’s penalty.

But when central defender Luis Binks was shown a straight red card following a large-scale melee involving both sets of players shortly before half-time, the tide began to turn. Arsenal came out all guns blazing after the break and for 40 minutes we withstood wave after wave of pressure with all 10 men behind the ball, but eventually it was just too much and two strikes from substitute Bukayo Saka – the second one deflecting in off Brooklyn Lyons-Foster – and one from Ben Cottrell saw our rivals win 3-2.

It means they extend their lead at the top of the table to four points, although we still have a game in hand and will be sure to fight all the way after a phenomenal unbeaten run stretching all the way back to the start of the season in August, which has included some superb performances along the way.

It took us just six minutes to break the deadlock in the pouring rain as captain Armando Shashoua won the ball in midfield, Dilan Markanday breezed forward on an excellent solo run and laid off for Maghoma, who swept a tidy finish across goalkeeper Tom Smith from the left angle.

J’Neil Bennett saw his shot blocked in the goalmouth by Mark McGuinness and had an effort ruled out for off-side before White’s free-kick took a deflection in the box and looped up against the woodwork. At that stage, Arsenal had no answer to our free-flowing football and we deservedly doubled our lead on 34 minutes when Bennett was brought down in the box by Smith and White drilled in from the spot.

Fol Balogun went clean through for the Gunners moments later, only to be denied by a wonderful tackle from behind by defender Malachi Walcott but, when Binks tangled with McGuinness following a 40th-minute corner, the centre-half saw red while his counterpart escaped with a booking. Goalkeeper Josh Oluwayemi then produced a flying save from Trae Coyle to preserve our lead going into the break.

Bennett had a golden chance to score a third for us in the opening stages of the second period but couldn’t convert at the back post when a corner was flicked into his path – and shortly afterwards, when Arsenal called on danger men Bukayo Saka and Xavier Amaechi to come off the bench in the wide areas, the hosts began to turn the screw.

Amaechi forced another great save from Oluwayemi with a free-kick towards the bottom corner but, despite an attacking change with Phoenix Patterson returning after nearly five months out through injury, we couldn’t keep the ball and ended up losing out. Cottrell made the first two – sending the ball through for Saka to score on 85 minutes and then supplying a similar forward pass which ended with Saka’s shot deflecting in off Lyons-Foster two minutes later – before finishing off the third himself from close range after a corner was only half-cleared and the ball was worked back into the box.

Key moment

Although we managed to hold on for the majority of the second half, in truth, the sending-off of Binks changed the course of the game. With five minutes to go until half-time, Binks was shown a straight red card after clashing with McGuinness and although Lyons-Foster – who performed well in a holding midfield role from the start of the game – was able to drop back in alongside Walcott at centre-half, Arsenal took advantage to put themselves in the driving seat in the title race with two and three games left for the respective sides.

Arsenal 3-2 Spurs (Under-18 Premier League)

Spurs: Oluwayemi, Okedina (Pochettino 88), Statham, Lyons-Foster, Walcott, Binks, Markanday, White, Bennett (Clarke 79), A Shashoua (c, Patterson 71), Maghoma. Substitutes (not used): Kurylowicz, Thorpe.