By Richard Clarke

David Bentley inspired Arsenal Reserves to a comprehensive 3-0 victory over Leicester at Barnet FC on Monday night.

The England Under-21 international did not score and only set up the final goal after two early strikes had given Eddie Niedzwiecki's side a stranglehold on the game, but he still managed to catch the eye.

Short passing, long through balls, free-kicks, corners ? Bentley did the lot as he revelled a number of positions in which he was employed.

In the 10th minute his perceptive high ball forward was expertly chested down by Jeremie Aliadiere on the run. But the Frenchman, still working his way back to fitness after a knee injury, saw his shot blocked.

It took only two more minutes for Arsenal to go ahead. Nicky Nicolau pumped a long ball into the left-hand channel and John Spicer collected, cut inside his defender before firing home.

On the quarter-hour, Frankie Simek's ball was flicked on by Michal Papadopulos and Aliadiere latched on. He took the ball at pace, raced into the area and scored at the second attempt. His sixth goal in five reserve games this season.

Then Bentley took over. On the right-hand byline, he controlled Hoyte's pass with one-touch; flicking the ball over the head of Leicester left back Ahmed Deen. He then muscled past the defender, raced to byline and cut the ball back for Papadopluos, who sidefooted a rising shot against the angle of post and bar. It was stirring stuff.

Aliadiere hit the inside of the post soon afterwards and, just before the interval, Bentley ended a mazy dribble with shot over the bar.

Three minutes after the restart, the same player ran onto a pass from Cesc Fabregas and produced a chip reminiscent of the goal he scored against Middlesbrough in the FA Cup. This one, however, drifted over the bar.

In the 55th minute, Bentley's cross was nodded home at the far post by right back Justin Hoyte, who went on to spend much of the second half attacking.

Four minutes later, Bentley's long raking pass was again taken by Aliadiere in his stride but Leicester keeper Conrad Logan thrust out a hand to palm the resulting shot wide.

By this time Bentley had moved into central midfield, having spent some time in a free role. He nearly capped an excellent display with a goal himself after great skills from substitute Stephen Bradley. Then his powerful free-kick deflected off the wall.

He could not resist one of those trademark chips 11 minutes from the end. Again it drifted over.

Still by that time Arsenal were worthy winners and having endured a difficult turn of the year, Niedzwiecki's team only lost one game in their last six.

  • Arsenal's next reserve game is away at Fulham on Tuesday, March 9. Click here for a full list of Arsenal's Reserve League fixtures.


John Spicer opens the scoringDavid Bentley gets a shot inAliadiere tries his luckCesc Fabregas makes himself some spacePapadopulos shields the ballAliadiere makes another burst forward

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Richard Clarke 1 Mar 2004