U18 Premier League- Game 29
Fulham 1 Arsenal 4 (Dobson 16, Lipman 29, 59, Robinson 68)
By Jeorge Bird @ Motspur Park
A young Arsenal side comprised primarily of schoolboys eased to a comfortable victory over Fulham at a sunny Motspur Park earlier today. Arsenal’s main focus this week is tomorrow’s FA Youth Cup Semi-Final, 2nd Leg tie against Chelsea, but this emphatic win will be welcomed given some of the disappointing results that have preceded it at this level this campaign.
Austin Lipman, one of the more experienced players on show, found the net twice, with schoolboys George Dobson and Tyrell Robinson also on the scoresheet. With the majority of the Youth Cup squad left out, coach Carl Laraman handed debuts at this level to four players- Tolaji Bola, Owen Moore, Marcus Tabi and Michel Parker.
Arsenal also gave game time to a trialist goalkeeper, with Lipman, Elliot Wright and Arinse Uade the only full-time scholars to feature. Joshua Da Silva started, having made his debut as a substitute against Newcastle United. Kick-off was delayed by 45 minutes due to the Arsenal coach arriving late.
subs: Tabi (for Lipman), O. Moore (for Dobson), Parker (for Hinds). Not used: Huddart.
Fulham also named a very young side, with many of their players away at the Dallas Cup, but the majority of Arsenal’s youngsters possess plenty of experience at this level and they looked determined to make the most of that advantage in the early stages. The lively Robinson did well to win a corner, with Lipman seeing his shot saved from the resultant set-piece.
Robinson provided another example of the threat he poses to the opposition goal when he latched onto Dobson’s long pass and forced a good save from the Fulham goalkeeper. Uade had to be alert to cut out a cross at the other end, but Arsenal were largely dominant. They were rewarded when they took the lead through Dobson, who finished well with a shot that deflected in off the far post.
Arsenal didn’t stop there. Kaylen Hinds and Stephy Mavididi both shot over in quick succession, before Da Silva did well to find Lipman, whose shot was saved.
Da Silva, operating in the number 10 position, was beginning to become increasingly influential, and he shot wide, with right-back Aaron Eyoma also coming close. The game was effectively put beyond a struggling Fulham when Dobson crossed for Lipman, who finished from close range to make it 2-0.
Fulham threatened a little thereafter, with Arsenal’s goalkeeper having to make a couple of impressive saves, but Arsenal were always on top, a point that was emphasised when Lipman struck the crossbar with a fierce strike after being found by Hinds. The skilful Robinson then did well to find space for himself, but his subsequent shot was saved.
The second-half followed a similar pattern to the first, with Arsenal carving out numerous attacking opportunities. Hinds saw a shot saved after good work from Mavididi then Lipman made it 3-0 after pouncing upon a defensive mistake and finishing confidently.
Arsenal had some defending to do after that goal, with Fulham’s right-winger causing them considerable problems. Fulham pulled a goal back during that spell with a header from close range, with Arsenal then introducing Tabi and Owen Moore in place of Lipman and Dobson.
The final goal of the game followed almost immediately, with Wright playing one of his trademark long passes, which Robinson latched onto and then diverted into the net. There could have been even more goals for Arsenal, with Mavididi, Jordan and Tabi all coming close. The game had long been won, however, and this result represents another important step in the development of these players.
Many of the youngsters on show today will form the bulk of the U18 squad for next season, and, on this evidence, some of them are very promising indeed. Dobson, despite still being a schoolboy himself, possesses good leadership qualities and was also one of the standout players today, whilst wingers Mavididi and Robinson were both very dangerous. Da Silva demonstrated glimpses that, in time, he could develop into a promising player, whilst the schoolboys that were brought on did not look at all out of place.
There are now just two league fixtures remaining at U18 level this season, against Wolverhampton Wanderers and West Ham United, but, for now, all the attention is focused on tomorrow night’s Youth Cup tie at Emirates Stadium.