Our under-18s delivered an outstanding attacking performance in their penultimate game of the season on Saturday as they secured a 5-2 victory over Aston Villa.
Amani Richards delivered a man of the match display, winning two penalties and converting our fifth of the afternoon, while Nathan Butler-Oyedeji and Omario Cozier-Dubbery scored their first goals at this level. Schoolboys Bradley Ibrahim and Reuell Walters were also trusted to start.
Ken Gillard’s side started brightly at London Colney and took the lead after just seven minutes, as Richards won a penalty following a slick turn inside the penalty area that forced a foul from the defender. Nathan Butler-Oyedeji was trusted from the spot as an experienced member of this side and duly fired into the bottom corner.
It wasn’t long before we doubled our advantage too, as once again, Richards wreaked havoc on Villa’s defence with the drop of a shoulder and a turn of pace to race past his marker and force a foul for yet another penalty. This time it was Joel Ideho from 12 yards, who coolly fired into the bottom corner.
It was an impressive first-half performance, but in the space of 15 minutes after the restart, Villa found themselves level. Tommi O’Reilly breached our defence with a darting run and chipped over the onrushing Remy Mitchell, who replaced Hubert Graczyk at the break, before Tristan Abldeen-Goddridge pounced on a loose ball to equalise after we missed a number of promising chances.
At this point, our youngsters could have lost their focus and shifted away from the gameplan, but they kept their cool and eventually rested their lead. Racing forward on the break, Ideho fizzed a ball across the face of goal and a deflection allowed it to drop for substitute Amario Cozier-Duberry, who was perfectly placed to fire into the roof of the net.
Ideho then went on to score his second of the afternoon, firing home from close range following a corner delivery, before Richards grabbed his reward for an outstanding performance, pouncing on a goalkeeper error to register his third goal in just three starts at this level.
WHAT IT MEANS
Up next, we will face Chelsea in our final outing of the U-18 Premier League south season.
The game will take place on Wednesday, May 12 with kick-off at 11am (UK time).
Copyright 2023 The Arsenal Football Club Limited. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source.