By Giuseppe Muro at the Pilot Field
Arsenal’s youngsters dispatched non-league Hastings United on Tuesday night as they continued their pre-season schedule with an emphatic 9-0 win on the south coast.
Oguzhan Ozyakup got the ball rolling on the quarter-hour and two goals in as many minutes from Jay Emmanuel-Thomas left the Arsenal XI in complete control.
Chuks Aneke added a fourth shortly before the break before Sanchez Watt and Rhys Murphy found the net as Neil Banfield’s side showed the gulf in class between the two teams.
Luke Freeman also added a second-half brace and Jernade Meade got in on the act as the Gunners ran riot against their non-league opponents.
If Friday’s curtain-raiser at Woking was about blowing away some summer cobwebs then tonight saw the Gunners turn their preparations for the new season up a notch.
The Pilot Field provided a charming, if somewhat unusual, setting on the outskirts of this picturesque seaside town with two sides of the pristine playing surface surrounded by woodland. That, added to the fine weather and the exhibition of football provided by Arsenal made for a perfect evening for a bigger-than-expected crowd.
Banfield again drew from the youth ranks in front of the watching Liam Brady with four changes from the side that had strolled to victory in Surrey.
Reice Charles-Cook was given a start between the posts and the goalkeeper had barely drawn breath when he was called into action after 30 seconds. Only a fingertip save denied Kenny Pogue a shock opener.
The enthusiastic home support sensed an upset but Arsenal had other ideas and went ahead when Ozyakup opened his account for the summer. Freeman raced into the area and cut back for the Dutch midfielder who didn’t have to break stride as he stroked the ball across the keeper and into the far corner.
Hastings proved stubborn opponents until Emmanuel-Thomas’ quickfire double had Arsenal coasting as the first-half drew to a close.
By the time Aneke added a fourth three minutes before the break, the visitors were in cruise control. This was proving to be fine entertainment for a near-capacity crowd.
It was 5-0 not long after the interval when half-time substitute Murphy headed home Emmanuel-Thomas’ cross-cum-shot underneath the crossbar. It may have been going in without his intervention but, as any good striker would, Murphy was on hand to get his first of the summer.
Watt got himself on the scoresheet when he poked home from close range and Ozyakup’s weaving run put the ball on a plate for Freeman to make it seven just a minute later.
It was getting embarrassing for Hastings, who ply their trade in the Ryman League Premier Division, when Meade emphatically volleyed home from a corner 15 minutes from time and Freeman got his second.
Arsenal went in search of double figures but a tenth goal proved elusive.
Next stop for the Arsenal XI is a short trip north to League One side Stevenage on Saturday afternoon as they continue their preparations for the season ahead.
Referee: C Brook