Arsenal cruised into the fifth round of the FA Youth Cup after beating Peterborough United 6-1 at London Road.
A hat-trick from Chuba Akpom and an early strike from Ainlsey Maitland-Niles set the Gunners on their way but the game will be remembered for a fine performance by 16-year-old Daniel Crowley, who scored two and assisted the other four.
It was a stunning display of passing ability from the youngster that warmed the hearts of those in attendance on a chilly night in the Midlands.
SETTING THE SCENE
Carl Laraman kept faith with the same team that beat Torquay United so convincingly in the third round.
Akpom played as the lone striker and was supported by Crowley in the No 10 with Maitland-Niles and Alex Iwobi providing a threat from the flanks.
After beating Notts County, Wolves and Hull City away from home in the previous rounds, Peterborough’s youngsters were rewarded with the chance of playing on the London Road pitch. They were also backed by a lively home crowd.
Both teams started brightly but Arsenal had the lions’ share of the early chances. Glen Kamara slipped a pass through to Maitland-Niles in the fourth minute who turned inside Liam Marshall but the full-back recovered well to deflect his shot wide.
Robbert Duggan sent a dipping strike just over moments later before Maitland-Niles missed a glorious chance to put the Gunners ahead on 10 minutes.
Crowley slipped a superbly-weighted pass into the winger’s feet who then clipped the ball over Luke O’Reilly and off the outside of the post.
In the 24th minute, the Gunners saw a chance go begging. Crowley was the instigator again, sweeping the ball out to Iwobi who drove towards goal before unleashing a left-footed effort which O’Reilly did well to parry away.
But the breakthrough was made four minutes later and it was little surprise that Crowley was the creator. The 16-year-old found Maitland-Niles with a sublime through ball and the winger made no mistake this time, sliding a low shot under O’Reilly.
Arsenal doubled their lead eight minutes before half-time. The unstoppable Crowley picked up possession on the left edge of the box and delivered a pinpoint cross to give Akpom the simplest of headers.
Akpom got his second goal and Arsenal’s third just three minutes into the second half when he latched on to another Crowley pass before rounding O’Reilly and slotting into an empty net.
The forward completed his hat-trick just after the hour mark and Crowley was the creator yet again. This time he found Akpom in acres of space inside the box and he took a touch before rolling the ball under O’Reilly to make it 4-0.
In the 67th minute, Crowley got the goal his all-round performance deserved with an exquisite effort from the edge of the box that flew into the bottom corner.
The youngster then struck again five minutes later. This time he exchanged passes with Akpom on the edge of the box before showing quick feet to round O’Reilly and steer the ball home from a tight angle. It was met with applause from large sections of the London Road crowd.
Duggan netted a consolation for the home side in stoppage time when he twisted past Leander Siemann before shooting past Josh Vickers.
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