FA Youth Cup – Third Round
Rotherham United 1 (Greaves) Arsenal 2 (Patino, Ogungbo)
Mazeed Ogungbo went from villain to hero as Arsenal U18s survived a scare to see off Rotherham United and make it through to the fourth round of the FA Youth Cup.
After Arsenal had taken the lead through a superb strike from Charlie Patino, Rotherham levelled courtesy of Jerome Greaves, who scored with a penalty after Ogungbo had given away a spot-kick.
Shortly afterwards, however, Ogungbo redeemed himself as he scored what proved to be the decisive goal in the closing stages of the game.
Miguel Azeez and Catalin Cirjan are both eligible to feature in this competition, but Arsenal, perhaps feeling they are beyond U18 football, elected not to use either of them, while Khayon Edwards, Mauro Bandeira, Daniel Oyegoke and Salah-Eddine were amongst those who missed out through injury.
Ovie Ejeheri was preferred to Hubert Graczyk in goal, with the back four comprised of Brooke Norton-Cuffy, captain Alex Kirk, Zane Monlouis and Ogungbo. James Sweet partnered Patino at the base of the midfield, with Omari Hutchinson, Marcelo Flores and Kido Taylor-Hart operating behind Nathan Butler-Oyedeji, who was, somewhat unusually deployed as a striker despite usually being a winger.
Rotherham started well, with Charlie Smith sending a header wide, with Kirk then responding by seeing his header saved following Flores’ corner.
Patino then tried his luck from distance but was thwarted, and Rotherham then put Arsenal under pressure, with Norton-Cuffy having to make an important intervention to cut out the danger.
The hosts had a claim for a penalty when George Scott went down in the area but the referee waved play on, but Arsenal ended the half the more dominant side, with the likes of Sweet and Hutchinson causing numerous problems for Rotherham.
Hutchinson became increasingly influential in the early stages of the second half as he sent a couple of efforts wide, and then Arsenal made their first change, with Joel Ideho entering the fray in place of Flores.
Patino saw another long-range shot saved but then he got his radar right and put Arsenal ahead in the 75th minute with a superb effort from distance that found the top corner.
Rotherham showed good spirit to respond after going behind and they were given a lifeline following a challenge from Ogungbo in the area. Greaves stepped up and got the better of Ejeheri from the spot as Rotherham pulled level.
There was to be further drama in the closing stages, though, with Ogungbo redeeming himself by scoring with a header following Hutchinson’s corner.
Arsenal will know that they have much to improve upon if they are to enjoy a lengthy run in this competition, especially with regards to their defensive capabilities, but the important thing is that they made it through, and Ogungbo will be especially pleased to have atoned for his error.
There is excellent creativity in this side, with the likes of Hutchinson, Patino, Flores, Sweet and Taylor-Hart all capable of carving out chances with regularity. The return of Edwards, who will hopefully be fit for the next round, will also add an extra dimension to the side. For now, though, Arsenal will simply be pleased to have progressed.
Arsenal: Ejeheri; Norton-Cuffy, Kirk, Monlouis, Ogungbo; Sweet, Patino; Hutchinson, Flores (Ideho, 59), Taylor-Hart; Butler-Oyedeji (Plange, 67). Subs not used: Graczyk, Awe, Henry-Francis.