Alex through to face City in quarter-final after thriller at the Hive
Crewe Alexandra’s youth team impressively knocked Arsenal out of the FA Youth Cup at Barnet’s Hive after a thrilling 3-2 win. The Alex led 1-0 at the break thanks to Liam O’Neill’s early opener and the lead was doubled early into the second half thanks to an own goal forward home after Andre Brown had seen his shot saved. After the Gunners pulled out back on 64 minutes, Brown hit a third to make it 3-1 just three minutes later.
The battling home side pulled another one from substitute Bola but the Railwaymen deservedly held on to secure a quarter-final tie against Manchester City.
Crewe Alexandra’s high press certainly paid dividends in the early exchanges at Barnet’s impressive Hive set-up. Alex midfielder Callum Ainley had an early chance to challenge the Arsenal penalty area but Arsenal’s centre-half George Dobson made a timely tackle to halt the winger’s intentions to take him on.
Liam O’Neill then laid on a chance for George Cooper to shoot at Ryan Huddart’s goal but the Alex number 10 couldn’t keep his effort low enough to test the Arsenal goalkeeper for the first time.
That early promise from the Crewe youngsters paid off though after six minutes. The tigerish Tom Lowery pinched possession back and quickly released Cooper in space and his through ball found the run of O’Neill, who held off the intentions of full-back Renny Smith to slot home the opening goal with real finesse.
Crewe certainly looked a real threat on the break in the opening 20 minutes and Andre Brown forced Huddart into a smart save after he had been found by the impressive Lowery. The Arsenal goalkeeper had to shuffle along his goalline to get across to push the effort away. Then Oliver Finney couldn’t keep his shot down enough after the ball bounced through to him at the far post.
Arsenal’s Smith was cautioned for going down far too easily as he entered the penalty area and Brown was booked for Crewe for bringing down full-back Tyrell Robinson as he threatened to carry the ball into our half of the pitch.
After a really encouraging start from the Crewe youngsters, it was no real surprise that Arsenal improved and they began to get a grip of the possession. Their captain Dan Crowley became more influential in possession and his through ball to Stephy Mavididi forced Liam Matthews to deny him on the edge of the box. Finney also did well to get out and block a firm shot from Crowley.
Crewe were still effective on the counter attack, with Cooper finding Brown but from a really acute angle he could only shoot across goal.
On 27 minutes, Crewe could have doubled their advantage. Arsenal midfielder Gedion Zelalem produced a slack pass across his own back line and it went straight to Cooper, but he drilled his shot from 18 yards just wide of the target.
Crowley struck a free-kick that Matthews had to push away. He also had to collect a volley into his body after the Arsenal skipper had controlled a volley. Arsenal began to impose some real pressure on the Crewe defence but the pairing of Mullarkey and Moran were defending our box really well.
Lowery lost possession some 25 yards from the Crewe goal but Ainley Maitland-Niles shot wide of Matthews’s right hand post. On 33 minutes
Crewe ended the first half with Cooper producing a threatening free-kick that had to be cleared from underneath the bar by Smith. Moran was also booked for a foul close to the half way line.
The Alex youngsters made an equally impressive start to the second half as they did the first. After just three minutes, Ainley produced a perfectly weighted pass into Brown and although his cross shot was parried out by Huddart, it struck the unfortunate Stefan O’Connor and rebounded back into the empty net.
Trailing 2-0, the Gunners stepped up the tempo and Mullarkey had to make a superb block inside the six yard before Matthews had to push over a well struck effort from Chris Willock.
On 56 minutes, a superb solo run from Cooper only lacked the finish.
Cooper raced through on goal and as he checked back, he seemed to have his leg taken away by the recovering Dobson. The referee waved away the appeals. He just dragged his eventual shot inches wide after he took on two. Cooper then should have won a penalty when he raced onto a through ball from O’Neill.
The referee also elected not to show Smith a second yellow card for a rash and heavy tackle on Ainley. With the cards that had gone before it should have been his second.
On 64 minutes, Arsenal pulled a goal back. Winger Aaron Eyoma provided the cross and Matthews had to make a smart save to deny Zelalem but the rebound was promptly drilled home by Mavididi.
Crewe continued to play their game and looked threatening when we got at the Arsenal back line. On 67 minutes a defensive slip allowed O’Neill in behind the Gunners rearguard and his superb cross was swept home from close range by Brown. It was a dream delivery for the Crewe forward and the Alex had regained their two goal advantage.
Crewe’s first change from coach Alex Morris saw Ainley make way for Higham on 72 minutes. Crewe’s captain Kearns was booked for a trip but the free-kick was dealt with by the excellent Mullarkey.
The Arsenal pressure increased with an array of crosses going into the area but Matthews did well again to grasp a Marc Bola header. Soon after Cooper nearly caught Huddart out with an ambitious lob from distance but the Arsenal goalkeeper watched it well to pedal back and make the save.
round tie. thWith seven minutes remaining, the Arsenal substitute Bola drilled in a super shot at the far post after Crewe had done well to flick away the initial cross from Zelalem. It was game on again and Crewe were having to see out the final minutes of a thrilling 5
Andre Brown moved back to do a sterling job as an extra defender. Arsenal pushed their towering defender O’Connor up front and he was booked for bumping into Cooper in the goal celebration.
Crewe rode a late penalty shout after Renny Smith again went down in the box but the referee was well placed to wave away any appeal.
The Alex youngsters had to see out four minutes of stoppage time but deservedly held on to secure a 6th round tie in Manchester.