By Adam Clark
Battling 10-man Arsenal Reserves showed all the passion required of a North London derby but ultimately went down 3-0 against an adventurous Tottenham Hotspur at Underhill on Monday.
Arsenal's youngsters fought valiantly to earn some spoils but Henri Lansbury was dismissed, and Jay Simpson's retaken penalty saved, as goals either side of the break from Mark Yeates and Jamie O'Hara and another at the death from Kieran McKenna gave Tottenham the North London bragging rights.
Neil Banfield starting line-up included seven players that started last Wednesday's 2-1 FA Youth Cup win at Hull. Three of the other four were on the bench on Humberside meaning Arsenal's only starter aged over 18 was Vito Mannone, the 19-year-old keeper who was making his first appearance since returning from a loan spell at Championship side Barnsley.
After a sluggish start from both sides the first opportunities came the way of Simpson. The powerful striker was muscled off the ball while trying to turn his marker and soon after another explosive burst into the box was ended by Leigh Mills' well-timed sliding challenge.
Slowly the visitors found their feet and threw everything into attack against Arsenal's inexperienced rearguard, preventing the hosts from producing the type of flowing football that has become synonymous with the Gunners, whatever the level.
Tottenham new boy Adel Taarabt went close on 17 minutes when he narrowly failed to curl the ball inside Mannone's left-hand post but three minutes later he turned provider with devastating results. The attack-minded midfielder galloped down the right before delivering an inch-perfect cross that Yeates headed home emphatically.
Gavin Hoyte almost made an immediate reply for the Gunners but Nacer Barazite's swirling free-kick eluded him at the back post. The miss was soon followed by another trademark run from Simpson but this time he showed too much Mills, who ushered him off the ball.
Four minutes before the break Randall stung the palms of Spurs keeper Ben Alnwick with a rasping volley before Simpson rounded the former Sunderland stopper only to see his effort - the best of the half - headed away by Mills.
Tottenham came out for the second half and showed little intention of changing their forward-thinking approach and when Kieran McKenna passed up the chance to score to slide in O'Hara on 55 minutes, the midfielder had the simple task of slotting past Mannone.
Soon after Randall missed a double chance to earn Arsenal a quick reprieve but on 64 minutes came a moment that should have brought hope but instead became a blow to morale from which they never recovered.
Defender Phil Ifil brought down Cypriot midfielder Giorgos Efrem in the box and referee Mr Horwood had little doubt in pointing to the spot.
Simpson calmly slotted the ball low to Alnwick's left but Mr Horwood judged Arsenal's players to have encroached and asked Simpson to do it all again. Inevitably the striker's calmness had disappeared and this time his effort was easily saved.
Things turned from bad to worse on 86 minutes as Arsenal were reduced to 10 men. Midfielder Henri Lansbury was shown two yellow cards in quick succession and within four minutes of his departure the visitors capitalised.
Reto Ziegler took full advantage of the extra room in midfield to play in an inviting throughball for McKenna. This time the midfielder had eyes only for the goal, and although Mannone got a hand to his effort, it was low enough, and hard enough, to trickle over the line.
Dunne on the charge
Randall contests a loose ball
Efrem evades challenge
Simpson takes a penalty
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- Randall 59
- Dunne 80
- Lansbury Red Card
- Berg 59
- Murphy 80