By Rob Kelly at Parc y Scarlets
Arsenal Reserves delivered a highly-impressive performance to beat Swansea 2-0 at Parc y Scarlets on Wednesday night.
Neil Banfield’s side were in complete control throughout this one-sided affair, and their slick passing and incisive attacking play will have left their manager purring.
The Gunners took a well-deserved lead in the 22nd minute when Zac Ansah converted from close range, before doubling their advantage on the stroke of half time through Serge Gnabry.
Oguzhan Ozyakup and Josh Rees came close to adding to the scoreline in the second half, but in the end the second string had to settle for just the two goals.
With Rhys Murphy, Gavin Hoyte, Danny Boateng and Ryo all leaving the Club on loan over the past week, Banfield made a raft of changes to the side that lost at Fulham.
Damian Martinez came in for Lukasz Fabianski, Nico Yennaris was back in reserve-team action again at right back, Ansah spearheaded the attack and Kyle Ebecilio also started.
Most notably, though, there was a first start for Thomas Eisfeld, the Gunners’ transfer deadline-day signing from Borussia Dortmund. The German midfielder made an immediate impression, both with his tidy passing and his eye-catching luminous yellow boots.
Swansea fielded a relatively-experienced side, with the likes of Ferrie Bodde, Alan Tate and Stephen Dobbie - who scored a last-gasp equaliser for the Swans at Arsenal earlier in the season – among their starting line up.
Arsenal were the livelier side for much of the opening period, and it came as no real surprise when they opened the scoring midway through the first half through Ansah.
The goal came after a slick passing move between Gnabry and Eisfeld, which saw the former wriggle his way to the left byline. The German midfielder’s cross rolled into the path of his compatriot Eisfeld, and after his shot was well saved by Jose Moreira, Ansah converted the rebound from close range.
It was no more than Arsenal deserved, although the Swans came close to levelling matters in the 31st minute when Dobbie whipped in a free kick from the right and Rory Donnolly scooped the ball over.
Arsenal were in confident mood and they should have doubled their lead moments before half time when Eisfeld laid a good ball off to Craig Eastmond, but he saw his shot, and then a follow up, saved by Moreira.
But Banfield’s side did not have long to wait for their second as, right on the stroke of the interval, Ebecilio’s shot was saved by Moreira but looped up invitingly for the impressive Gnabry to head in from close range.
The Gunners picked up where they left off after the restart and could have extended their advantage in the 50th minute. Gnabry raced on to a loose ball to go one on one with Moreira, but his shot from the edge of the area was saved by the goalkeeper.
It was a highly-encouraging performance from the second string and Rees - who came on for Eisfeld at half time - tested Moreira just before the hour mark as the visitors tried to press home their advantage.
Ozyakup came close three times to extending Arsenal’s advantage, but in the end they settled for just the two goals on a satisfying night in South Wales.
- Eastmond (C)
- Thomas Eisfeld 46
- Gnabry 77 Goal!
- Ansah 71 Goal!
- Zac Fagan
- Rees 46
- Wynter 77
- Philip Roberts 71
- Darnel Situ 46
- Alan Tate (C)
- Joe Walsh
- Davies 46
- Ashley Elsey
- Corey Francis
- Jordan Smith
- Connor Roberts