Colchester United bow out of FA Youth Cup at hands of Arsenal

Colchester United Under-18s, celebrating a goal in the first round of the FA Youth Cup against Chesh

Colchester United Under-18s, celebrating a goal in the first round of the FA Youth Cup against Cheshunt, entertain Arsenal in the quarter-finals tonight. - Credit: Archant

Colchester United Under-18s bowed out of the FA Youth Cup at the hands of a strong Arsenal outfit tonight, but they produced a stirring performance, especially during the first period of this quarter-final tie.

In the end, the Gunners ran out comfortable 5-1 winners at the Weston Homes Community Stadium, to book their place in the last four – they will play either Blackburn or Blackpool at the semi-final stage.

But the U’s had several chances to take the lead, and pegged back their illustrious visitors to 1-1 early in the second half, thanks to Callum Jones’ penalty, before the north Londoners netted three quickfire goals.

Arsenal had to soak up some early pressure and they were indebted to a terrific save by their keeper Joao Virginia on 17 minutes, from Jones’ well-struck free-kick, which had been heading for the top corner of the net.

Six minutes later and Jones was in the thick of the action again, holding off a challenge in the box before seeing his low deflected shot shepherded away by keeper Virginia.

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The U’s had impressed in the first half-hour, and Virginia was forced into another save on 28 minutes, this time from Dean Ager’s low drive.

Only the woodwork denied the U’s an opening goal on 36 minutes. Jones benefited from a fine cross by Ollie Sims, and was unlucky to see his shot cannon off the post.

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The Gunners grabbed the lead just four minutes before the break, thanks to Emile Smith-Rowe’s clinical finish past keeper Harry Seaden.

Unfortunate to be trailing at half-time, the U’s duly equalised just three minutes into the second period, via a penalty converted by Jones.

Sims was felled in the box, and Jones made no mistake by sending Virginia the wrong way.

However, Arsenal regained their lead just four minutes later, thanks to a spectacular free-kick by Smith-Rowe. His 52nd minute effort gave Seaden no chance.

And the Gunners went 3-1 up in the 55th minute, with Bukayo Saka rounding off a good move with a deadly finish, to effectively kill off the game.

Striker Fol Balogun netted a fourth, with a 66th minute breakaway, and Xavierr Amaechi fired home Arsenal’s fifth on 74 minutes.

COLCHESTER: Seaden, Howard, Kazeem (sub Mudd, 59), Keys, Cracknell, Kensdale, Ager, Anderson (sub Cornish, 76), Jones, Chilvers (sub Hassanally, 79), Sims. Unused subs: Coulter, Michaels.

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