Jude Soonsup-Bell’s opener wasn’t enough for our Under-18s who fell to defeat against Arsenal this morning.
The first of two consecutive games against Arsenal's youngsters was away at London Colney today. Jude Soonsup-Bell provided us with a positive start, scoring his 19th goal of the season after a quarter of the game.
Our lead wasn’t to last long though, the hosts hit back five minutes later to level the scores. Four minutes after the restart the Gunners took the lead and held on to it for the remainder of the game. The defeat leaves us in sixth place on 33 points with three games of the season to play.
For our penultimate away game of the season, Ed Brand named four changes from the team who beat Aston Villa just over a week ago. Lucas Bergstrom started in goal and Alfie Gilchrist came into the defence. Harvey Vale and Myles Peart-Harris were replaced by Silko Thomas and Soonsup-Bell in attack.
Blues strike first but Arsenal respond
Arsenal had control of possession in the opening stages of the game, but we were doing a good job of defending the box. Any home danger came from afar and was mopped up by our back four.
Patience was key at this point and we had to make the most out of our swfit moves forward. Joe Haigh had a few opportunities to run at the Arsenal defence but found himself outnumbered on those occasions and it would be a dead-ball situation which allowed us to break the deadlock soon after.
Charlie Webster’s corner-kick was the perfect height for Soonsup-Bell’s head to meet. Aiming his attempt low at goal, Arsenal’s Ovie Ejeheri stood no chance of making a save.
We were ahead after 16 minutes but the lead was a slender one as the hosts stepped up their attempts to get back into the game. Firstly Kido Taylor-Hart fired over from the edge of the box following a rapid free-kick routine, then they found the net after another smart move.
After what looked like a foul in our favour in midfield, the referee waved play on with Marcelo Flores in possession. A neat one-two with Khayon Edwards gave Flores the space he needed to arrow the ball into the top corner from distance.
There were chances for us to reinstate our lead before the break though, with Jayden Wareham coming the closest. Having picked up the ball from Thomas on the left, Wareham spotted a shooting opportunity but Ejeheri was alert to tip the danger over the net.
Then, it was the turn of Webster to try his luck, but the driven hit from distance caused no danger. Meanwhile, Bergstrom remained largely a spectator for what was left of the first 45 mintues and it ended level at 1-1.
Home side turn it around
Both sides returned from the break unchanged and recharged, but it was Arsenal who had the upper hand from the restart. We found ourselves pegged back and unable to get the hosts away from our net. Their possession eventually told when Mazeed Ogungbo powered through the back line to finish off Jack Francis’ through ball. 2-1 Arsenal.
We were left chasing the game and the best of our chances again fell to Wareham. The first was a free header as he ran through on goal. There may have been more time for the youngster to apply the finishing touches but he snatched at the chance which the keeper gratefully held on to.
The next came from another Webster set-piece. The ball in was headed back across goal by Alfie Gilchrist where Josh Tobin and Wareham waited. It dropped for the latter in front of goal but Arsenal were quick to react and get bodies in the way of his eventual shot, keeping their lead in place.
Our final chance of the afternoon was the hardest. Derrick Abu’s cross was headed down by Ben Elliott. Wareham did very well to control it with his back to goal and get a shot away on the turn, but it was straight at the keeper who plucked the ball out of the air.
The save saw Arsenal tighten the grip on their lead in the final moments and claim the victory over a Chelsea side who gave everything.
Arsenal are our next opponents for the reverse fixture on 1 May. Kick-off at Cobham is 11am.
Chelsea Lucas Bergstrom; Josh Brooking, Charlie Wiggett (c), Alfie Gilchrist; Dion Rankine (Jimi Tauriainen 74), Charlie Webster, Ben Elliott, Silko Thomas (Derrick Abu 70); Joe Haigh, Jude Soonsup-Bell (Josh Tobin 61), Jayden Wareham
Unused subs Sami Tlemcani, Luke Badley-Morgan
Booked Brooking 90
Scorer Soonsup-Bell 16
Arsenal Ovie Ejeheri, Mazeed Ogungbo, Zane Monlous, Alex Kirk, Zach Awe (Henry Jeffcott 59), Miguel Azeez, Jack Francis, Omari Hutchinson, Kido Taylor-Hart, Marcelo Flores (Luigi Gaspar 82), Khayon Edwards
Unused subs Remy Mitchel, Taylor Foran, Joel Ideho
Booked Henry-Francis 90
Scorers Flores 21; Ogungbo 49