We booked our place in the FA Youth Cup final by hitting five goals past Blackpool on an enjoyable evening at Emirates Stadium.
Our frontline displayed fluid attacking football throughout and have now scored 20 goals in just six games in our run to the competition decider.
It was a stunning start by Kwame Ampadu’s side, who instantly took charge of the game and carved open a number of golden opportunities.
Flo Balogun was at the heart of each and every attack in the opening stages, but for a while it seemed like it just wouldn’t be his night in front of goal. The right winger failed to convert a delightful cross from Xavier Amaechi, before rattling the crossbar and missing a one on one.
But the teeneger kept his head up and in the 18th minute, snatched his reward by beating Craig Thordarson with a perfectly-timed header.
Our lead was doubled just two minutes later, when Amaechi’s corner was hooked into the six-yard box and met by a towering header from our captain Danny Ballard.
Blackpool would have hoped to find some defensive organisation after our electric start to the game, but we showed no mercy and continued with our relentless attacking approach. Robbie Burton beat his marker with a sharp turn and fired in a deflected strike from 25 yards, before Emile Smith Rowe stole the show.
The 17-year-old started his run from deep in his own half and effortlessly skipped past five players, forcing the Blackpool defence to hack him down out of frustration. Smith Rowe stepped up for the penalty and made no mistake in finding the right corner, taking his tally to four goals in the FA Youth Cup.
The intensity of the game certainly dropped in the opening stages of the second half, but our frontline still found space behind the Seasiders defence. Amaechi’s thumping strike was denied by the outstretched Thordarson, before Tyreece John-Jules hit the side netting from a similar position.
Balogun was constantly used as an outlet to stretch the Blackpool backline, and in the 74th minute his final contribution was assisting Jack Newton’s red card. Newton had been caught out in midfield and dragged the Arsenal winger to the floor, forcing the referee to brandish a second yellow card.
Substitute Matthew Smith then rounded off the scoring, as he tapped in Bukayo Sako’s saved effort deep into stoppage time before referee Craig Hicks’ whistle signalled time on an entertaining night at Emirates Stadium.
WHAT IT MEANS
We will face Chelsea in the final of the FA Youth Cup. The first leg will be held at Stamford Bridge on April 27, before the Blues make the trip to Emirates Stadium on April 30.
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