By Isaac Moore at Meadow Park
Arsenal Under-18s cruised into the fourth round of the FA Youth Cup with a 5-0 win over Torquay United.
The young Gunners dominated from start to finish and were soon ahead when Ainsley Maitland-Niles crashed a shot into the top corner. Alex Iwobi got Arsenal’s second in the 23rd minute before Daniel Crowley drove home a third 10 minutes later.
Iwobi completed his brace on 55 minutes before substitute Jack Jebb nodded home a fifth to complete a comfortable evening’s work for the home side.
Carl Laraman fielded a strong side against The Gulls. Chuba Akpom started up front with fellow under-21 regulars Brandon Ormonde-Ottewill and Gedion Zelalem also handed starts.
Unsurprisingly, the home side started on the front foot and should have taken the lead straight away. Crowley found space on the right-hand side and clipped an excellent cross towards the unmarked Maitland-Niles who put his header wide at the near post.
To their credit, the visitors defended manfully in the opening stages. Oneil Odofin made a superb last-ditch block to deny Akpom after the forward was put through on goal.
But Arsenal didn’t have to wait much longer to take the lead. In the 15th minute, Maitland-Niles picked up possession on the edge of the box and beat two defenders before firing a left-foot shot into the top corner.
Arsenal continued to pin the visitors in their own territory and doubled their advantage on 23 minutes. Glen Kamara drove at the Torquay back four and got to the byline before cutting the ball back for Iwobi to tap home into an empty net.
Crowley made it 3-0 in the 33rd minute when he twisted past Jack Mace, leaving the full-back on the floor before steering a low effort past Daniel Lavercombe.
The hosts would have been further ahead by half-time had it not been for a trio of excellent stops from Lavercombe. First he denied Akpom with an athletic low save before kicking a Maitland-Niles shot away. However, his best save came two minutes before the break when he tipped a Crowley free-kick wide.
Lavercombe pulled off another fine save at the start of the second half when he pushed away Iwob’s dipping strike.
Substitute Austin Lipman came close to increasing Arsenal’s lead in the 54th minute when he poked the ball onto the inside of the post before it rolled across the goal line and away to safety.
But Arsenal’s fourth did come seconds later when Iwobi found space in the box and kept his composure to slot past Lavercombe from close range.
The Gunners' fifth and final goal came with 18 minutes remaining. The tireless Akpom marauded down the right and his cross found Jebb in space at the back post. His header was too strong for Lavercombe.
Arsenal played out the final stages with a bit of keep-ball against a spirited but tired Torquay side. Five goals and a clean sheet should give Laraman’s youngsters some much-needed confidence to take into their league campaign.
Copyright 2023 The Arsenal Football Club Limited. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source.