FA YOUTH CUP – Colchester United 1-5 Arsenal: Young Guns in rout to reach last four
- Credit: Archant
Arsenal’s under 18s thumped Colchester United 5-1 in the FA Youth Cup quarter-final at the Weston Homes Community Stadium.
Emile Smith-Rowe opened the scoring just before half-time but Callum Jones equalised from the penalty spot early in the second-half.
Smith-Rowe then curled home a wonderful a free-kick for his second, before goals from Bukayo Saka, Fol Balogun and Xavier Amaechi put the home side to the sword with a devastating attacking display.
Under 18s boss Kwame Ampadu was missing star striker Tyreece John-Jules because of suspension, but was still able to name a strong side as his team looked to make the semi-finals.
The young Gunners came inches from opening the scoring inside five minutes when Fol Balogun raced onto a long ball forward, controlling well before hitting a half-volley off the base of the post.
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Joao Virginia was called into action at the other end, diving at full stretch to keep out a Noah Chilvers free-kick that was destined for the top corner.
Callum Jones should have given Colchester the lead with 36 minutes on the clock, but he somehow fired his close range effort against the post, letting Arsenal off the hook just before the break.
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The Gunners made them pay just two minutes later when the lively Smith-Rowe broke from midfield to find space in the box, keeping his composure before smashing a shot past a helpless Harry Seaden.
That goal saw Ampadu’s side head into the interval with a 1-0 lead, but it didn’t last long.
Just a minute into the second-half, Colchester’s Ollie Sims battled hard to keep the ball inside the box before being tripped by Zech Medley, with the referee point straight to spot.
Jones stepped up and coolly slotted home the penalty, sending Virginia the wrong way and atoning for his earlier miss to level the score at 1-1.
However, with 52 minutes played Smith-Rowe struck again.
Standing over a free-kick on the edge of the area, the midfielder curled a beautiful effort into the top corner to score his and Arsenal’s second, putting the visitors back in front.
The second-half goal fest continued when Trae Coyle fed through Bukayo Saka just three minutes later, with the winger’s sublime dummy taking him round Seaden for an easy finish, putting the Gunners 3-1 ahead.
Balogun then added a fourth with a well placed finish, firing low past Seaden in the Colchester net after his pace took him away from the U’s back four.
It was 5-1 with 74 minutes gone when Amaechi burst past two Colchester defenders on the edge of the 18-yard box, drive a low shot under Seaden to cap off a wonderful Arsenal display and secure a place in the last four.
Ampadu’s side could face Chelsea, Blackburn Rovers, Blackpool, Birmingham City or Norwich in the semi-finals, with the first-leg to be played on Saturday, March 24.