Arsenal FA Youth Cup preview: Young Guns travel to Colchester bidding for semi-final place
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Ahead of Arsenal U18’s FA Youth Cup quarter-final tie with Colchester United, the Islington Gazette previews the last eight clash at the Weston Homes Community Stadium on Tuesday evening.
Kwame Ampadu’s young guns are looking to lift the FA Youth Cup this season for the eighth time in the club’s history following triumphs in 1966, 1971, 1988, 1993, 2000, 2001 and 2009.
The talented junior gunners have had difficult opponents all the way through this season’s tournament, starting their campaign with a home game against Sheffield Wednesday in the third-round, with a brace from Xavier Amaechi securing a 2-1 win.
The victory earned Arsenal a fourth-round trip to Merseyside to face Liverpool – coached by Steven Gerrard.
Robbie Burton gave the away side an early lead, but Curtis Jones and a Zech Medley own goal put the Reds in front before Bakayo Sako equalised five minutes before time an Anfield on the same after the first team beat Crystal Palace 4-1 in January.
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Substitute Sako then set up Tyreece John-Jules’ extra-time winner to see the Gunners safely through.
A trip to Bishop Auckland to face Middlesbrough was the reward, with Islington Gazette Arsenal reporter Layth Yousif there in a chilly North East to cover the youngsters in action.
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In a cracking match they made a brilliant start through goals from Emile Smith Rowe and John-Jules putting Arsenal 2-0 up inside 20 minutes.
It was John-Jules second goal in the teenage version of the FA Cup and has notched nine in 13 across all competitions this term – which led to him being awarded his first professional contract on his 17th birthday.
His form also saw him earn a place in the England under-17 squad for the Algarve Tournament last month, scoring a 2-0 win over the Netherlands.
However two quick goals from the host just before half-time saw the sides go into the break all square.
Three minutes into the second-half, Daniel Ballard scored the winner to secure Arsenal’s place in the last eight.
Tuesday evening’s opponents, Colchester, have had an unusual route to the quarter-final.
Despite losing 4-1 to Reading in the previous round, the U’s were reinstated after their opponents fielded an under-age player.
A thrilling 5-4 win over Cheshunt in the first-round was followed 5-0 thumping of Bishop Stortford and two successive 2-0 wins over Crewe Alexandra and MK Dons.
Arsenal will be hoping for a very different result from when they last visited the Weston Homes Community Stadium.
An Arsenal XI that included the likes of Alex Iwobi and Chuba Akpom suffered a heavy 5-1 defeat in a pre-season friendly against Colchester.
The tournament is traditionally a proving ground for talented Arsenal youngsters with Eddie Nketiah playing in last season’s 1-0 home defeat by Blackburn Rovers, graduating to the Premier League after he made his top flight debut on Sunday in the 2-1 defeat by Brighton.
Follow sports journalist Dan Mountney @DanMSportsJ who will be at the Weston Homes Community Stadium alongside the Islington Gazette’s Arsenal reporter Layth Yousif, who can be found @laythy29.