Post-Match Report

Academy Final: Arsenal 5-3 Nott'm Forest

Nottm Forest Yth -

Emirates Stadium
Premier Academy League
Premier Academy League
5 3
  Nottm Forest Yth
Nottm Forest Yth

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By Nick Teale

Benik Afobe was the hat-trick hero as Arsenal Under-18s retained the Premier Academy League title on Tuesday.

The prolific striker was involved in all five goals as the Gunners defeated Nottingham Forest 5-3 at Emirates Stadium.

The visitors went ahead early on but Afobe struck twice before the break to give Steve Bould's side a deserved lead.

They were pegged back shortly after the hour mark but Afobe then converted a penalty he had won himself to complete his hat-trick.

The star man wasn't done there though. Minutes later he won a penalty for Luke Freeman to convert. The former Gillingham striker then assured the Gunners victory after Tom Mullen had given Forest hope.

Steve Bould made one change to the side that beat Manchester United on penalties in the Semi-Final, bringing Oguzhan Ozyakup in for Roarie Deacon

His side were given an early warning when Mullen beat Boateng only to hit his shot against the post in the fourth minute.

And within 60 seconds the visitors did take the lead.

Danny Meadows found George Thomson on the right and he delivered low to Elliot who had made a surging run from midfield to turn the ball in at the back post.

Arsenal responded well to going behind and set about finding an equaliser quickly, though they would have to wait until just after the half hour to find it.

Henderson had a 30-yard effort deflected over in the eighth minute and Freeman penetrated into the area from the left but his cut-back didn't find an Arsenal shirt.

Forest weren't completely on the back foot though and with 12 minutes on the clock Matt Sykes got to the byline on the left and Ignasi Miquel had to make a sliding tackle to deny Thomson an opportunity on goal, though it was the last real chance they created in the opening period.

Arsenal were dominating their visitors and in the 21st minute Chuks Aneke fired just wide after keeper Zannettos Mytides was only able to punch Cedric Evina's left-wing cross to the edge of the area. Moments later Emmanuel Frimpong's free kick crashed wide of goal.

Henderson then hit the wall with a free kick from inside the 'D' but Arsenal would finally find the equaliser they deserved in the 31st minute.

Afobe out-paced the Forest backline to latch onto a lofted through ball but had his effort palmed away by Mytides.

Freeman was first to the rebound and with his shot potentially heading wide, Afobe turned it into the net to draw Arsenal level.

Arsenal kept pushing and after efforts from Aneke and Ozyakup, Afobe added a second for the Gunners.

Aneke won the ball in midfield, linked up with Yennaris and played an inch-perfect 20-yard pass for Afobe.

The striker only needed two touches to race past his man and find the bottom corner, glancing the ball across Mytides to give the Gunners a half-time lead.

Eleven minutes after the break Freeman almost extended Arsenal's lead but was denied by the reflexes of Mytides. Then the visitors drew level.

Mullen beat Frimpong at the byline and pulled back for Thomson, who made no mistake from 10 yards.

The midfielder found the bottom corner but his side wouldn't be level for long.

In the 65th minute Ozyakup played a through ball to Afobe and he was pushed over inside the area by Sykes.

The striker collected the ball himself and sent the keeper the wrong way to secure his hat-trick.

Freeman then added a fourth from the spot after Afobe was upended by a reckless challenge from Karlton Watson.

But the game wasn't over yet.

Forest made a change before the game restarted and substitute McCashin had an instant impact.

Bursting into the area he latched onto a bouncing ball and forced Shea to block his effort. However the rebound fell kindly for Mullen and Forest were back in it.

Arsenal knew they now needed a fifth to be secure and Miquel nearly found it in the 77th minute. His header forced Mytides into a finger-tip save after a floated free kick found the centre back at the far post.

Forest then had a gilt-edged chance to draw level but Elliot drilled wide after receiving the ball from Mullen. He was 18 yards out but had time and space on his side.

And he would be made to pay. With nine minutes remaining Afobe got to the byline and squared for Freeman.

The former Gillingham man scored the simplest of goals, tapping in from yards out to guarantee the Gunners victory.

Forest didn't give up but their efforts were in vain. Arsenal had retained the Premier Academy League title.

Referee: C J Knowles

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