The Arsenal academy capped off the year with a third-round FA Youth Cup win over Cheltenham Town through a penalty shootout on Wednesday.
The Arsenal u18s played their first tie of the Youth Cup on Wednesday, entering the competition at the third-round stage. A few of the u16s joined the squad, including Marcelo Flores, Taylor Foran and Remy Mitchell, all on the bench.
Cheltenham Town beat Portsmouth 8-4 in the previous round, so you’d think a high-scoring match was on the cards. Instead, the match ended up going completely the opposite way.
Strong wind and torrential rain certainly didn’t help either side to get going. Arsenal started the quicker of the two though.
Two of the u18 regulars, Ben Cottrell and Sam Greenwood, both had early chances to open the scoring. Unfortunately, their efforts went over the bar.
Daniel Oyegoke and Ryan Alebiosu also saw their shots saved in the first half. Other than that, there weren’t any major chances for either side in the opening 45 minutes.
Hubert Graczyk had to make an acrobatic save soon after the break as Cheltenham came out on top. Nathan Butler-Oyedeji came off for Matthew Dennis, who had a couple of nice runs during his time on the pitch but couldn’t quite find the finish.
Alfie Matthews and Connor Jakeway had chances for a late winner for either side, but neither could find one. As a result, the game went to extra time.
Luke Plange, who started the season in good form before dropping out of the team, came on for Alebiosu early in extra time. Plange quickly had a chance to score the opening goal, but the Cheltenham defenders blocked his shot on the line.
Alex Kirk also went close with a headed opportunity, before coming off for Taylor Foran. U16 Foran is yet to make his u18 PL debut, but he helped the u18s maintain their clean sheet to the end of the 120 minutes, along with a couple of saves from Graczyk.
As a result, the game went to penalties. Sam Greenwood and Alfie Matthews both scored for Arsenal after Bashford and Evans-Harriott did the same for Cheltenham for 2-2.
Graczyk then made a save from Stanton, giving Arsenal a chance to take the lead. Dennis took the opportunity to put the pressure on Cheltenham.
That pressure told as Callum Ebanks fired over the bar. Charlie Patino had the chance to win the shootout after just four penalties, and he did.
Lineup: Graczyk, Oyegoke, Ogungbo, Patino, Monlouis, Kirk, Alebiosu, Cottrell, Mathews, Greenwood, Butler-Oyedeji
Substitutes: Dennis (for Butler-Oyedeji, 77), Plange (for Alebiosu, 94), Foran (for Kirk, 109)
Unused: Mitchell, Cirjan, Flores
Arsenal face Southampton in the fourth round. The club will announce the date of the Meadow Park fixture in the near future. The u23s and the u18s are now done for the year, kicking off again on January 3rd and 4th respectively.