By Giuseppe Muro at the Crabble
Arsenal’s youngsters completed an unblemished pre-season programme with a convincing 3-0 victory over Dover Athletic on Wednesday night.
Benik Afobe, fresh from his exploits with Arsène Wenger’s senior squad, got the ball rolling with a venomous strike early on and Henri Lansbury thumped a spectacular second to put the visitors in control by the half-hour.
A deflected effort from Luke Freeman found the net in first-half stoppage time to complete a very pleasing summer for the Club’s next generation.
Victory at the Crabble makes it five wins from five for the Arsenal XI and although these games are more about getting in shape for the season ahead, victory is always beneficial, especially when youngsters are involved.
A record of 23 goals scored and just one conceded makes for promising reading with the new campaign now very much in sight.
The past three weeks have seen Woking, Hastings, Stevenage and Boreham Wood all brushed aside with relative ease so, with that in mind, Neil Banfield will have been pleased with the competitive edge injected into this fixture by a spirited Conference South side.
But, on a glorious August evening on the south coast, Arsenal started with real purpose and went ahead after nine minutes when Afobe lashed home from the edge of the area after a neat one-two with Oguzhan Ozyakup. Lee Hook flung out a despairing left hand but the net was rippling before he got close to it such was the venom of the strike.
The game quickly settled into a pattern - Arsenal attacking; Dover, namely goalkeeper Camp, keeping them at bay. Chuks Aneke, Sanchez Watt and Jernade Meade were all denied by smart stops as the Premier League side threatened to race out of sight.
After a glut of goals against Boreham Wood last time out the Gunners were clearly hungry for more against their non-league opponents, who are managed by former Arsenal forward Martin Hayes.
Lansbury grazed the crossbar with a stinging left-footed drive though the former Norwich loanee didn’t have to wait long to get his name on the scoresheet. Receiving the ball 25 yards from goal, he controlled with his left before spanking home a spectacular volley with his right.
Arsenal seemed happy playing out the half in third gear though Freeman’s deflected drive made it three as the clock ticked into injury time.
It was a sign that they could pick up the pace at will.
The visitors controlled a largely uneventful second period to round off a hugely satisfying summer schedule.
Now for the serious stuff.
* Banfield’s Reserves kick off their season against Manchester United at Underhill on August 15 while Steve Bould’s Under-18s start with the visit of Barnsley on August 20.
Referee: L Venamore
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