- Wojciech Szczesny
- Abu Ogogo
- Rene Steer
- Gavin Hoyte
- Paul Rodgers
- Nacer Barazite
- Vincent van den Berg 82
- Kieran Gibbs
- Mark Randall
- James Dunne
- Rui Fonte
- Giorgos Efrem 77
- Jay Simpson
FA Premier Academy League
Under-18s Play-off Semi-Final
Arsenal Training Centre. Tue, May 15, 2007
Leicester City Under-18s
By Adam Clark
Arsenal Under-18s suffered their second Semi-Final defeat this
season as Leicester edged them out in the Academy League play-offs
at the training ground on Tuesday.
Steve Bould's side just missed out on a place in the FA
Youth Cup Final last month and were thwarted this time by a
purposeful Foxes side.
Victory would have set up a Final showdown with Sunderland at
the Stadium of Light on Sunday but goals either side of the break
from Kieran Gibbs and Jay Simpson proved in vain.
Bould's starting line up boasted four players who have
featured on the bench for Arsène Wenger's first team this
season. But the Academy coach also had key players missing
following last week's European Under-17s championship.
Midfielder Henri Lansbury picked up an injury in England's
Semi-Final win over France while Spaniard Fran Merida and England
striker Rhys Murphy, who both featured in Sunday's Final, did
not start. The latter was rested completely.
Despite their absentees the young Gunners got off to a good
start with Nacer Barazite, fresh from representing the Netherlands,
But Leicester quickly set about dictating play and took the lead
just 10 minutes in. Gavin Hoyte, another of England's charges,
looked to have cleared any danger with a defensive header but found
Billy McKay, who in turn found the bottom corner.
Arsenal's response was immediate. Kieran Gibbs received the
ball in the box and bided his time before squeezing a shot between
keeper Carl Pentley and his near post. Yet the goal didn't
serve to give the Gunners momentum and Leicester looked hungry to
regain their advantage.
Polish stopper Wojciech Szczesny twice saved from Eric Odihombe
and Andy King while McKay passed up an opportunity to double his
Hoyte latched on to a Simpson free-kick but could only guide his
effort at Pentley while Simpson himself fired wide after a slip
from Scott Lycett gave him his first clear sight of goal.
Odihombe and King continued to cause problems and each
registered another effort on goal before the break. Randall also
fizzed a shot inches over Pentley's bar following a neat
lay-off from the industrious Gibbs.
Randall then turned provider with an incisive through-ball which
put Simpson one on one. Unfortunately for the striker,
Leicester's defenders recovered quickly and forced him to hurry
his shot. The 18-year-old again stole a march on his marker on 53
minutes but this time he fluffed his attempted lob as the keeper
Barazite and Simpson had further chances saved by the impressive
Pentley and agonisingly saw Leicester regain the lead on 64
minutes. Odihombe played a neat one-two, affording himself space to
calmly slot the ball under Szczesny.
And 16 minutes later the challenge before Arsenal increased
further still. McKay showed quick feet to find room in the box
before placing a shot beyond the reach of the 17-year-old
The young Gunners handed themselves a lifeline with five minutes
remaining as Gibbs provided for Simpson to hook in a reply. It
ensured a nail-biting climax and Gibbs went close in the dying
seconds only to see his goal-bound shot deflected over the
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