By Declan Taylor
Late strikes from Jay Emmanuel-Thomas and Rhys Murphy fired Arsenal into the Youth Cup Semi-Finals at the expense of local rivals Tottenham.
Steve Bould’s boys had fallen behind after only six minutes to a close-range Jon Obika tap-in but were rewarded for their dominance with three second-half goals.
Kyle Bartley equalised six minutes after the restart but the tie looked set for extra time after a flurry of missed chances at either end.
However, just like in the Third-Round victory over Aston Villa, captain Emmanuel-Thomas produced a late winning goal, lashing a superb strike past Oscar Jansson with only 18 seconds left on the clock.
Then substitute Murphy clinically sealed the victory in stoppage time, firing home in front of the vociferous Arsenal fans who were in outstanding voice all night.
Next stop on the Youth Cup quest – Manchester City or Norwich in a two-legged Semi Final.
Loan deals in either direction meant that Bould made two changes to the side that despatched Sunderland 4-0 in Round Five.
Goalkeeper Harry Lee, who was on loan from Charlton that night, has since gone back to his parent club. That meant James Shea came in between the sticks.
In midfield, Henri Lansbury’s loan spell at Scunthorpe opened the door for Sanchez Watt, who would come in alongside Gilles Sunu upfront. Jack Wilshere moved out wide.
The Gunners started brightly and moved the ball from back to front with real purpose in the early stages. However, within six minutes, they were behind.
The lively Andros Townsend received the ball on the halfway line and drove purposefully down the left. His low cross evaded the onrushing Mason but fell kindly to Obika who swept home from four yards.
It was a shock to the visitors’ system but it didn’t knock them from their stride. The Gunners continued to play their football, almost exclusively in Tottenham’s half.
Sunu looked Arsenal’s most likely goal source and the Frenchman was twice thwarted in the nick of time by centre back Steven Caulker.
However, after 36 minutes, the striker wriggled free of his marker before sliding a low effort across Jansson. The keeper took the sting out of the strike and the Tottenham defence hacked clear.
The Spurs goal lived a charmed life for the remainder of the half and the whistle came as music to the home side’s ears.
But the break would provide only the briefest of respites - after only six minutes of the restart the scores were finally level.
Certainly not an ‘Arsenal’ goal but effective nonetheless. One of Francis Coquelin’s corners was met at the front post by Tottenham right back Adam Smith who could only nod the ball in off the back of Bartley.
The goal provoked an Arsenal onslaught. First, Wilshere bustled into a shooting position but saw a weak effort saved before Watt speared a sizzling drive just over the bar from 20 yards.
After riding the storm, Tottenham crept steadily back into the game. John Bostock saw more of the ball and the dangerous Townsend was gliding down the left wing at will.
In the 76th minute the tricky winger steered a low cross into the path of Mason who could only stab a weak effort into the legs of Shea. Then, six minutes later, an identical delivery found Obika who looked certain to score but for a match-saving intervention from Bartley.
Both sides had given everything but there was no dip in pace and the game became almost basketballesque in nature with chances coming and going at both ends.
And with 18 seconds left on the clock, one would finally stick.
Emmanuel Frimpong slid in a low pass to Emmanuel-Thomas who wriggled free of two Tottenham defenders on the edge of the area before lashing a left-foot strike past the despairing Jansson.
Deep into stoppage time Murphy, who hadn’t played since leaving Arsenal’s Fourth-Round tie with over Wolves on a stretcher, applied the icing to the cake. sending the noisy Arsenal fans behind the goal into raptures.
The perfect end to a thrilling North London derby.
- Bartley Goal!
- Emmanuel-Thomas Goal!
- Wilshere Yellow Card
- Sunu 86
- Murphy 86 Goal!
Tottenham Hotspur Res
- Parrett Yellow Card
- Cox Yellow Card
- M'Poku 57
- Obika Goal!
- Kasim 57