Most people, when asked to name Arsenal’s most promising schoolboy, would probably choose Josh Da Silva or Joe Willock, but Marcus Tabi has developed well this season and, playing for the U18s against Blackburn Rovers on Saturday, he underlined his credentials in no uncertain terms.
Tabi, a product of the club’s Hale End academy who tends to operate out wide, played a prominent part in both of Arsenal’s goals in the 2-2 draw at London Colney.
The first goal came after just seven minutes, with Tabi heading home from a corner having done well to help the young Gunners earn the set-piece in the first place.
Blackburn soon drew level, with Sam Joel finding the net from the spot after Kristopher Da Graca conceded a penalty with a clumsy challenge.
However, Tabi wouldn’t be thwarted, with the winger’s dangerous cross being turned into his own net by Scott Wharton as Arsenal went 2-1 ahead.
Arsenal could have gone into the break with an even greater lead intact, but Savvas Mourgos, who has impressed of late, sent his shot just over the crossbar.
Frans De Kat’s side continued to carve out chances after the interval, with a precise pass from Harry Donovan finding Tyrell Robinson, who shot over.
Arsenal were made to pay for their profligacy, though, with Blackburn being awarded another penalty, this time because of an alleged foul by Huddart.
The goalkeeper couldn’t keep out the spot kick, with Arsenal left to condemn the referee’s decision. Their anger was exacerbated shortly afterwards when a melee broke out between both sets of players following a challenge by Tre Pemberton on Donovan.
Modon Luam head-butted Robinson in the contre-temps that ensued, but the Blackburn player only received a yellow card for his actions, causing De Kat to condemn the referee in his post-match interview.
Overall, it wasn’t a particularly fluent Arsenal performance, but there were some encouraging signs, with midfielder Ben Sheaf using possession to good effect and Da Silva demonstrating his impressive hold-up play.
The U18s travel to face Bolton Wanderers on April 11th in their next play-off fixture.