Arsenal U18 5-0 Blackpool U18 (7-2 on agg): Young guns blitz their way to FA Youth Cup final
PUBLISHED: 20:54 16 April 2018 | UPDATED: 20:59 16 April 2018
Arsenal's talented U18 side won through to the FA Youth Cup final after eclipsing visitors Blackpool with a first half at the Emirates.
Goals in the opening 45 minutes from Fol Balogun, captain Danny Ballard, Robbie Burton, Danny Ballard, Emile Smith Rowe – including a spell of three in seven minutes – blew the Tangerines away, who simply had no answer to wonderfully exuberant the young guns showed.
Substitute Matthew Smith made it five with the last kick of the game to seal the victory which sees the Gunners reach the final for the first time since 2009.
Smith Rowe, Balogun and Xavier Amaechi all started after being in the first XI during the U23s 1-0 win over Swansea U23s to help guide the side to top spot with a game to play in Premier League 2. Joe Oluwu who also played on Friday was on the bench on Monday evening.
Balogun could have put the junior gunners ahead with a fierce shot after only eight minutes, but his drive thudded the bar after good work by Vontae Daley-Campbell.
Ten minutes later, following a powering run and cross from Amaechi, Balogun did find the net.
The lead was doubled 120 seconds later after captain Ballard headed home emphatically after another Amaechi cross for 2-0.
Three minutes after that Robbie Burton made it 3-0 with a deflected drive which wrong-footed Tangerines keeper Craig Thordarson.
Smith Rowe made it 4-0 with a spot-kick after he was felled during a mazy dribble which wrong-footed the heart of the Blackpool defence.
His mesmerising run deserved a goal but he made no mistake with the penalty 12 minutes before half-time which ended the tie as a contest.
The second half was understandably played at a lower pace with both sides making a raft of substitutions as the Gunners started to look forward to a two-legged final against Chelsea at the end of April.