Arsenal 3-0 Crystal Palace
FA Youth Cup third round
Thursday, December 16, 2004
Kick-off: 7.00pmMORE PICTURES
- Chris Wright
- Kerrea Gilbert
- Mitchell Murphy
- Fabrice Muamba
- Dominic Shimmin
- Matthew Connolly
- Ben Gill
- Sean Kelly
- Luke Webb
- Sean Clohessy
- Ryan Smith
- Danny Spaul
- Nicklas Bendtner
- Anthony Stokes
- Issa Kadir
- Mark Howard
- A Smith
By David Price
Arsenal progressed to the Fourth Round of the FA Youth Cup with a 3-0 defeat of Crystal Palace at Underhill on Thursday night.
After an even first half, the young Gunners picked up the tempo in the second half and two goals in two minutes just before the hour mark put them firmly in control.
Then a fine goal from Danish striker Nicklas Bendtner, his second of the evening, sealed the victory three minutes from time.
Steve Bould was able to name a strong line-up as the Gunners got their Youth Cup bid underway and Arsenal, in the form of Ryan Smith, were also able to include a player with first-team experience.
Three further players with first team appearances under their belt this season - Francesc Fabregas, Johan Djourou and Arturo Lupoli - were all omitted from the team, despite being eligible for the competition.
The FA Youth Cup is a tournament for Under-18s, yet the majority of the Arsenal team have played regularly for the high-flying reserve team this season, and went into the fixture high on confidence.
The first half was a competitive affair, if low on clear-cut scoring chances. The midfield was proving to be an important battle ground, with Fabrice Muamba looking to stamp his authority on the game for the hosts.
Arsenal's best opportunity in the opening 45 minutes fell to Smith but, after cutting inside his defender, his low shot went just wide.
At the other end Palace nearly capitalised on a Gunners mistake. Arsenal goalkeeper Chris Wright mishit his attempted clearance and the ball fell to Ryan Hall. With the goal at his mercy, and Wright out of position, he elected for power rather than precision with his shot, and missed the target.
After the interval the teams continued to cancel each other out until Bendtner, signed in the summer from FC Copenhagen, gave Arsenal the lead.
The tall 16 year-old centre forward picked the ball up close to the by-line and worked his way into the area. He then slotted the ball past David Wilkinson in the Palace goal with a crisp right-footed finish.
That was after 57 minutes and within a couple of minutes Arsenal doubled their advantage.
Smith, who featured in all three of Arsenal's Carling Cup games this season, hammered home from inside the area after beating his man.
Dominic Shimmin, playing in the centre of defence alongside captain Matthew Connolly, then had a couple of chances to stretch the lead. On both occasions though, the stocky defender saw his point-blank shots from dangerous crosses well saved by Wilkinson.
Bould made changes as time began to expire, bringing on Sean Clohessy, Danny Spaul and Sean Kelly, but there was still time for one more Arsenal goal, and it was the pick of the bunch.
With 87 minutes on the clock, Bendtner bent home a left-footed shot across the 'keeper from the edge of the box. So the Gunners march into the fourth round, where they will take on Preston North End at Underhill. The tie will be played by January 22.
Captain Connolly leads out the teamNicklas Bendtner shapes to shootand sees his effort beat Banks1-0 to the Arsenal!Ryan Smith makes it 2-0Bendtner nets his second
2004/05 FIXTURE LIST
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