By Lloyd Webb at Emirates Stadium
Arsenal Under-18s set up a FA Youth Cup semi-final clash against Manchester City with an impressive 2-1 win over Liverpool on Friday.
The Gunners were good value for their victory and were unlucky not to take the lead before the break, with Ismael Bennacer rattling the crossbar from a whipped free-kick. However, Steve Gatting’s side took the lead immediately after the restart when Stephy Mavididi prodded home from close range, but were pegged back three minutes later by Conor Masterson. Arsenal refused to sit back though, and Hinds secured victory just before the hour mark to send the Gunners into the last four of the competition.
Setting the Scene
Gatting made two changes to his Youth Cup side from the team that beat Coventry on penalties 20 days before. Hinds replaced Reiss Nelson to start only his second consecutive under-18s match after returning from injury, while Ben Sheaf was given the nod at right back ahead of Chiori Johnson.
Keen to impress in front of the 3,293 fans at Emirates Stadium, the Gunners took the game to Liverpool from the first whistle.
Arsenal’s rampant start almost paid off after five minutes when Mavididi broke into the box, but the England youth international could only force Shamal George into a routine stop. Bennacer then had the best chance of the half when his curling free-kick crashed off the crossbar, leaving the visitors’ goalkeeper rooted to the spot. Sheaf was next to threaten, beating his man to cut in from the right-hand side but George made two smart stops as the half finished deadlocked.
In contrast to the first half, the Gunners looked sluggish after the restart and almost paid for it when Toni Gomes’ diving header creeped inches wide of the far post. However, that turned out to be the wake-up call Arsenal needed soon the hosts were ahead. Liverpool failed to clear Jeff Reine-Adelaide’s corner and Mavididi pounced to poke home from six yards.
Arsenal were in the ascendancy but, just three minutes later, the sides were level again. After several wicked deflections, Masterson found space in the box to lash a strike into the bottom corner. Keen to make amends for a slight lapse in concentration, Arsenal restored their lead four minutes later. Tyrell Robinson broke down the left to cross to Hinds, who ghosted in at the far post to finish. George denied Mavididi a chance to claim his second goal of the game but the damage had already been done by Arsenal’s youngsters, who held out to book their place in the semi-finals of the competition.
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