By Laura Knight at the Lamex Stadium
While the first team were in action in Cologne, Arsenal’s youngsters continued their impressive pre-season campaign with a 1-0 win over Stevenage in a tough encounter at the Lamex Stadium.
Chuks Aneke scored the decisive goal six minutes into the second half, firing a right-footed shot into the net following a quick one-two with Henri Lansbury, to take his pre-season tally to three in three games.
After beating Hastings United 9-0 earlier in the week the Arsenal XI were looking for another good result but had to be cautious of a Stevenage side who had produced a shock win over a Fulham XI just a week before.
Stevenage, seemingly full of confidence, enjoyed most of the early possession but a bruising tackle from Samuel Galindo on Ronnie Henry in the opening minutes reminded the hosts that Arsenal meant business.
Luke Freeman produced the game’s first real attack but could only send his shot wide of the post and when Sanchez Watt found himself clean through ten minutes later, his attempt to round Alan Julian in the Stevenage goal ended up with the pair colliding and the ball rolling off for a goal kick.
Stevenage seemed to have clear tactics of using Julian’s long goal kicks to try and beat the Arsenal back four and it almost worked when Craig Reid latched onto a goal kick that had found its way through the defence, but after turning onto his right foot he scuffed his shot and Reice Charles-Cook was able to collect it comfortably.
Following Aneke’s goal, Stevenage turned the heat up and pushed hard for an equaliser as Jennison Myrie-Williams volleyed wide in front of an open goal. Charles-Cook was called into action once again, stopping a fiercely hit free-kick from Chris Beardsley that was heading for the top corner, but the Arsenal XI never really looked like conceding and held on for the win to remain unbeaten from their pre-season fixtures.
Liam Brady, the former Arsenal player and now Head of Youth Development, took charge of the Arsenal XI at Stevenage and he was pleased with what he saw. He said: “We had to work very hard today but I’m very happy with the result and the performance. Stevenage are a very physical side and obviously we are a very young team but we told the players what to expect and to be fair it wasn’t until late on when we got a bit tired that we gave them a few chances.
“They are a team who have just been promoted to League One and they also knocked Newcastle United out of the FA Cup last season so we knew it was going to be a real tough game and that they would make it difficult for us to play our football because they put a lot of pressure on the ball when we had it.
“Luckily for us our goalkeeper was in tremendous form today. He made a point-blank save and also another splendid save from a free kick that was going into the top corner to keep us ahead. I’m pleased for him because he’s only a second year youth scholar.”
Brady continued: “I thought we played some good football at times and the goal we got was a quality goal from Aneke. We went close a couple of times with some good moves but I was more pleased with the fact that we didn’t succumb to their tactics.
“That is probably going to be our toughest game of the pre-season but I would say the boys are looking really fit and sharp and when the Reserve League starts we will be ready.”
- Galindo 73
- Lansbury 62
- Aneke 71 Goal!
- Ansah 62
- Angha 73
- Meade 71