Post-Match Report

Youth Cup: Liverpool 1-0 Arsenal - Report

Thomas Cruise

Liverpool Yth -

FA Youth Cup
FA Youth Cup
  Liverpool Yth
Liverpool Yth
1 0

By Chris Harris

Arsenal's Youth Cup adventure ended in cruel fashion at Anfield on Tuesday night.

Steve Bould's side dominated much of their Fourth-Round tie against Liverpool but an own goal against the run of play by the unfortunate Rene Steer proved decisive. The Arsenal left back deflected Steven Irwin's cross past Wojciech Szczesny after 23 minutes and, despite enjoying plenty of possession, the visitors could not find an equaliser.

James Dunne's late sending off, for a second bookable offence, simply compounded Arsenal's misery. For the second successive season, they have been eliminated when they looked capable of lifting the trophy. Now the young Gunners will have to pick themselves up and focus on the Academy League title race.

Arsenal were by no means at full strength for their biggest test of the season. Henri Lansbury, Rhys Murphy, Rui Fonte and Jack Wilshere were all sidelined by illness or injury while Fran Merida and Vincent van den Berg are out on loan. However, Bould could call upon Nacer Barazite and Havard Nordtveit, both of whom missed the Third-Round victory at Burnley.

Maybe they are just used to playing in world-class stadia after appearances at Emirates Stadium and Old Trafford last season, but Bould's boys showed no signs of nerves after running out in front of a sizeable gathering on The Kop. OK, Liverpool skipper Irwin fired the first warning shot after just 33 seconds but Arsenal were soon into their stride.

The half-chances piled up. After six minutes Kieran Gibbs collected the ball on the edge of the box, span and shot straight at Bouzanis. Then Barazite directed a free header wide from 12 yards after a surge down the left flank by Rene Steer.

It didn't stop there. On the quarter-hour Randall's right-wing corner was half-cleared to the edge of the box where it was met fiercely on the volley by Gibbs. To Liverpool's relief, Gibbs' effort flew straight at Bouzanis.

The signs were promising for Arsenal with Randall pulling the strings in midfield, Barazite floating dangerously behind Sunu and both full-backs, Ogogo and Steer, bombing forward. Frankly, Arsenal should have been ahead. Instead, they found themselves behind.

Szczesny had been pretty much redundant for the first 23 minutes but was suddenly forced into a fine reflex save to thwart David Amoo's header. The danger seemed to have gone but the ball was worked to Irwin on the right-hand side of the area and his cross was deflected past Szczesny by Steer. It was a soft goal and frustratingly against the run of play.

It took time for Arsenal to recover. Their best chance in the remainder of the half was engineered by Barazite, but his long-range shot clattered into a defender before it could test Bouzanis. Liverpool, buoyed by their stroke of fortune, pressed forward in search of a second.

It so nearly came with three minutes of the half remaining. Amoo's cross from the right eluded Szczesny, Rodgers attempted to lash the ball clear but instead saw it bounce off his heel and rolls towards his own goal. Gavin Hoyte came to the rescue, hooking off the line in the nick of time.

You sensed Arsenal would need a bit of magic to haul themselves level. Randall almost provided it after 57 minutes, collecting the ball 25 yards out and tip-toeing his way to the edge of the area before floating a shot wide of the post.

Randall kept the ball-boys on their toes with a wayward long-range shot eight minutes later and Barazite lashed an effort of his own past the post from 20 yards. The Dutchman found himself in a similar position seconds later and picked out Gibbs' diagonal run into the box. As Gibbs pulled the trigger Gary Mackay-Steven slid in to make a vital block.

Arsenal were improving but Liverpool still offered a threat, particularly from set-pieces. Joe Kennedy nodded just wide with 20 minutes left and, as Arsenal pushed men forward, a quick breakaway sent Amoo through on goal. Szczesny raced out to make a vital save and keep the tie alive.

Arsenal's task was made much harder with 14 minutes to go when Dunne brought down Amoo when the Liverpool winger was in full flight. It was enough to earn the midfielder a second yellow card.

A goal down and a man down, the young Gunners dug deep and Barazite went close with a low shot which was gathered by Bouzanis. The Dutchman almost wriggled through in the closing stages but, once again, the Liverpool defence slammed the door in his face. It summed up Arsenal's night.

Liverpool's famous Kop fills up

[IMG: 58848 alt="Gavin Hoyte takes on Eccleston" width="230" height="230" ]

Gavin Hoyte takes on Eccleston

[IMG: 58849 alt="Gilles Sunu outpaces Amoo" width="230" height="230" ]

Gilles Sunu outpaces Amoo

[IMG: 58850 alt="Kieran Gibbs in action" width="230" height="230" ]

Kieran Gibbs in action

[IMG: 58851 alt="Nacer Barazite shows his control" width="230" height="230" ]

Nacer Barazite shows his control

[IMG: 58852 alt="Amoo challenges Thomas Cruise" width="230" height="230" ]

Amoo challenges Thomas Cruise

[IMG: 58853 alt="Sanchez Watt holds off Kacaniklic" width="230" height="230" ]

Sanchez Watt holds off Kacaniklic

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