By Lambros Lambrou
A lone goal from Zak Ansah was enough to give Arsenal’s Under-18s their second win in a month over Chelsea in a friendly played at Emirates Stadium on Sunday.
The 1-0 victory was a hard-fought affair with both sides showing off the abundance of talent available to their respective academies.
The young Gunners had recently beaten the visitors 3-0 in the Academy League at the Chelsea training centre at Cobham. That result was flattering to Arsenal and their London rivals had plenty of chances on Sunday too.
The first real effort fell to Chelsea in the eighth minute when Todd Kane got away from his marker on the right flank and fired in a looping shot from 25 yards out that Reice Charles-Cook in the Arsenal goal tipped over the bar.
Chelsea went close again in the 17th minute through Bertrand Traore but his 30-yard drive shaved the top of the bar. Arsenal were forced to defend for long periods as Chelsea pressed and Ruben Loftus-Cheek’s shot was just over the top left corner in the 21st minute.
Arsenal’s first real effort on target did not materialise until the 39th minute when Kyle Ebecilio’s 30-yard drive was saved by Jamal Blackman in the Chelsea goal.
The Gunners did however take the lead against the run of play in the 40th minute when Ansah showed his bravery to get to a loose ball in the box and poke it into the net past Blackman.
The next real opportunity came just after the hour and it fell to the home side when Phil Roberts and substitute Alban Bunjaku combined well with some swift inter-changing of passes just inside the Chelsea area. The final touch was just a little heavy and the ball ran out of play before Bunjaku could attempt to redirect the ball toward goal from the tightest of angles.
Arsenal had a penalty claim waved away in the 68th minute when Jeffrey Monakana ran into the area but appeared to be impeded before he could reach Anthony Jeffrey’s knock down into the area.
The tireless Phil Roberts, again playing in a lone role up front, had a shot under pressure but the effort looped high over the target on 71 minutes. Martin Angha should have done better with a cross from the right two minutes later but as he rose unchallenged he failed to properly connect.
Amin Afane had Arsenal hearts in their mouths on 78 minutes when his long-range effort skimmed the top of Sean McDermott’s bar.
Jeffrey forced a good save out of substitute ‘keeper Ben Kilip with five minutes to go when the Chelsea stopper got down well to his right post to parry the young Gunner’s powerful shot on the run.
Chelsea made every effort to go for the equaliser but the Arsenal defence kept them at bay to earn the win and make it a good day for the fans who remained to watch following the senior side’s victory over Stoke City.
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