The Arsenal u18s kept their unbeaten pre-season streak going with a win away to Hendon FC on Friday night.
After a couple of wins and a draw in the first week of pre-season, the Arsenal u18s had to wait another 20 days to get back out on the pitches following a Covid disruption at London Colney.
It wasn’t necessarily going to be easy to pick up where they left off away to Hendon FC, though a few of Friday’s starting lineup did feature in the u23 game earlier in the week, which helped.
Perhaps surprisingly, Arsenal did start the faster of the two teams, and within minutes Amani Richards had given them the lead, finishing off a team move to keep his strong u18 form going.
16-year-old Amario Cozier-Duberry had been the u23 goalscorer earlier in the week, and he had a major part to play in Arsenal’s second goal. The youngster skilfully dribbled away from a couple of defenders before playing in Charles Sagoe Jr, who finished clinically via the post.
Hendon came back into the game after that, hitting the crossbar and forcing a save from goalkeeper Remy Mitchell. But the young Gunners maintained their 2-0 lead going into the break.
Arsenal made a number of changes at half time, including bringing on Alex Kovacevic in goal. The replacement keeper was called into action fairly quickly, getting down well to keep out a deflected effort.
Not long after that, Arsenal made a rather miraculous escape, with multiple defenders and the goalkeeper stopping point-blank shots from Hendon.
Those two incidents were far from the hosts’ only attacks, going close on a few other occasions only for a last-ditch tackle or a wasteful finish to prevent a goal.
Arsenal were much more clinical at the other end, and punished their opponents with a third goal. Jimi Gower set Mathaeus Roberts up with a backheel free-kick, which Roberts curled into the net.
— Richard (@R_GOONER) July 30, 2021
Billy Vigar, a second-half substitute returning from injury, deserves a lot of credit for winning the free-kick in the first place, intelligently flicking the ball over a defender’s head before drawing the contact.
Hendon hit the woodwork again, before finally finding the net with a low finish in the final play of the game. A shame for Arsenal not to keep the clean sheet, but a goal Hendon honestly deserved.
All the same, Dan Micciche’s side left convincing winners and returned from their enforced break in the best way they could.
Arsenal u18 Lineup vs Hendon FC
Mitchell, Walters, Foran, Jeffcott, Robinson, I. Oulad M’Hand, Ibrahim, Quesada-Thorn, Cozier-Duberry, Richards, Sagoe Jr
Kovacevic, Davis, Quamina, Roberts, Gower, Vigar