By Isaac Moore at Earslmead Stadium
An Arsenal XI cruised to a comprehensive 5-1 win against non-league Harrow Borough on Saturday afternoon.
First-half goals from Julio Pleguezeulo, Daniel Crowley and a brace from Benik Afobe gave the young Gunners a commanding lead at the break.
Alex Iwobi added a fifth at the start of the second half to round off a comfortable day's work for Arsenal.
SETTING THE SCENE
Steve Gatting named a side mixed with under-21 regulars and under-18s for the academy's second game of pre-season.
Fresh from their exploits with the first team at Meadow Park last week, Chris Willock and Afobe spearheaded the Arsenal attack while Semi Ajayi and Pleguezeulo started in central defence.
The talented Crowley operated in the No 10 role, with pacy duo Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Iwobi on the flanks.
Arsenal began in confident mood and got off to the perfect start in the seventh minute when Maitland-Niles picked out Pleguezuelo's burst from the back. The Spaniard's shot was saved by Jack Norton but then took a bobble and rolled into the bottom corner.
The Gunners doubled their lead seven minutes later when Tafari Moore found Crowley with a low cross from the right and the midfielder slammed it into the top corner.
Harrow created their first chance in the 22nd minute when Lewis Driver's header sailed just wide of Josh Vickers' goal.
The visitors increased their lead on 27 minutes when Willock's effort crashed off the underside of the bar and gifted Afobe a simple finish under Norton.
There was still more to come from Gatting's side. A minute before the break, Crowley's exquisite pass found Jack Jebb, whose drive was parried away by Norton but again Afobe was on hand to nod home his second.
Harrow reduced the arrears on the stroke of half time with a well-taken goal from Driver after he cut in from the left and rolled a shot into the bottom corner.
Arsenal continued to press home their superiority and Afobe squandered an excellent chance to complete his hat-trick when his shot was blocked on the line from Moore's cut-back.
But the Gunners restored their four-goal cushion moments later when Iwobi twisted past two defenders and drilled past Norton.
With the victory sealed, Gatting rang the changes midway through the second half, giving much-needed playing time to the likes of Austin Lipman, Glen Kamara and Renny Smith.
Lipman came close to scoring with his first touch but side-footed wide after another marauding run and cross from Moore.
Harrow struggled to break through an organised Gunners defence in the second half, although Anthony Page and Simeon Anikola both saw efforts cannon off the bar in quick succession.
Gatting's side ran out comfortable winners in the end and will be looking to maintain this level of performance when they visit Boreham Wood on Friday.
- Pleguezuelo 36 Goal!
- Moore 77
- Crowley Goal!
- Jebb 71
- Maitland-Niles 71
- Iwobi Goal!
- Willock 62
- Afobe Goal! Goal!
- O'Connor 36
- Lipman 71
- Smith 62
- Wright 77
- Kamara 71
- Jack Norton
- Adam Louth
- Franny Otira
- Jake Gilbert
- Michael Barima
- Anthony Maissiat
- Marc Charles-Smith
- Lewis Driver Goal!
- Steve Butterworth
- Anthony Page
- Harold Odametey
- Michael O'Keeffe
- Ryan Debattistsa
- Shaun Lucien
- Simeon Akinola
- Spencer Bellotti