FA Youth Cup

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Post-Match Report

Youth Cup: Arsenal 5-0 Blackpool - How it happened

Burton and Ballard celebrate

Blackpool Yth -

Emirates Stadium
FA Youth Cup
FA Youth Cup
  Arsenal U18
      
                  Balogun (18)
                   Ballard (20)
                   Burton (23)
                   Smith Rowe (34 pen)
                   Smith (90)
            
   crest
Arsenal U18
Balogun (18)
Ballard (20)
Burton (23)
Smith Rowe (34 pen)
Smith (90)
5 0
  Blackpool Yth
   crest
Blackpool Yth

WHAT HAPPENED

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. 

Interview

‘I was gutted that I got brought down!’

Emile Smith Rowe

Emile Smith Rowe was a only split second away from scoring one of the best goals we have ever witnessed at Emirates Stadium.

Collecting the ball just inside his own half, the Under-17 World Cup winner accelerated away from one player and tricked past two more before he was brought down by the fourth Blackpool defender as he broke into the box.

Smith Rowe would slot home the resulting penalty, our fourth in a comprehensive 5-0 win over the Tangerines, but would have much rather had finished off his mazy run.

“I was gutted that I got brought down,” he told Arsenal.com. “I just wanted to score. I’m so happy for the team though that we could get through. I just got the ball, saw space and then started to run through. Luckily I got the penalty and I was able to score, so I’m very happy.

“From the penalty, I was going to go the other way. I was quite nervous because I thought he was going to get it, but we do practice them a lot in training. I’m dedicating that one to my nan because it’s such a memorable goal for me to score.

“It’s just great to be back on the pitch after I tore ligaments in my ankle,” Smith Rowe added. “I’m just very happy to be out there and playing. It’s a great pitch and hopefully I can get more opportunities, then one day play here with the first team. It would be great. 

“The lads have worked so hard and to get to the final is a massive achievement for the club. We’re just really happy to get to the final and hopefully we can do ourselves justice when we play Chelsea.”

Emile Smith Rowe

Video

Watch the goals from our FA Youth Cup semi-final

Our under-18s reached the FA Youth Cup final for the first time since 2009 following a convincing 5-0 victory over Blackpool on Monday night.

With the first leg having finished 2-2 at Bloomfield Road, we stormed into a four-goal first half lead at Emirates Stadium, with Folarin Balogun, Danny Ballard, Robbie Burton and Emile Smith Rowe all scoring.

Substitute Matthew Smith added a fifth with the final kick of the game as we secured our place in this month's two-legged final against Chelsea.

Click the play button above to watch all the highlights from our win.

Interview

Ballard - It’s been a bit of a rollercoaster

Daniel Ballard

Despite his young age, Danny Ballard has already had quite the journey. 

After being released as a schoolboy back in 2016, the Northern Ireland youth international broke his ankle while on trial with Southampton and rejoined local club Stevenage to regain his fitness.

Ballard was poised to sign scholarship forms with Boro, but then he was offered a chance to rejoin us and he has not looked back since. Our FA Youth Cup captain, the defender has been an ever-present in the competition this season and even scored a towering header in Monday’s semi-final win over Blackpool.

“It’s been a bit of a rollercoaster at Arsenal,” he told Arsenal.com. “Even looking back to when I got my scholarship I never thought I’d be in this position.

“At the start of the season, I don’t even think that as a team we thought we’d be here - we lost our first game of the season 4-1 to Fulham. We’ve all worked so hard, especially myself, and we're all really pleased to be in the final. 

“I think it boils down to hard work and having a manager that trusts you and rewards dedication. Having a manager who gives you opportunities off that and I think I’ve taken my opportunities pretty well. It’s all starting to pay off.”

After comprehensively beating Blackpool we have set up a final clash with reigning champions Chelsea, and Ballard is relishing the opportunity to go toe to toe with his boyhood club.

“It’s a very strong Chelsea side. It will be really tough but we have the squad and team. If we play like we did today then we can definitely go on to win the cup. 

“It will also be a good experience to play at another stadium like that, especially being a Chelsea fan as a kid! I’ve been to a few Chelsea games at Stamford Bridge so I’ll enjoy playing out there. It will be a huge experience and we can definitely do a job there.”

Burton and Ballard celebrate

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