Report- Hutchinson misses in shoot-out as Arsenal are knocked out of Premier League Cup by Middlesbrough

Premier League Cup

Middlesbrough 1 (Walker 77 Arsenal 1 (Hutchinson 89 pen.) (a.e.t.) (Middlesbrough win 4-3 on penalties)

Omari Hutchinson has experienced the full gamut of emotions this season when it comes to penalty shoot-outs.

Earlier this campaign Hutchinson was the hero as he scored the decisive spot-kick to see Arsenal knock out Ipswich Town and progress in the Papa John’s Trophy.

Tonight Hutchinson missed the decisive penalty, with Arsenal U23s going out of the Premier League Cup at the last 16 stage against a spirited Middlesbrough side.

Somewhat ironically it was a penalty from Hutchinson which had forced extra-time in the first place as he scored from the spot after Nathan Butler-Oyedeji was brought down in the area.

Hutchinson’s goal came in the 89th minute, with Middlesbrough having taken the lead 12 minutes earlier through Stephen Walker.

Arsenal were the better side in extra-time, with Miguel Azeez producing an impressive display, but the young Gunners, who were without a natural striker, lacked a cutting edge.

Mika Biereth travelled with the squad but was a late withdrawal, with Hutchinson instead starting up front. Arsenal were also without Joel Lopez and Salah-Eddine, while Charlie Patino wasn’t quite fit enough to feature. 17-year-old Lino Sousa was given his first start at this level.

A. Okonkwo

Swanson-Kirk-Ogungbo

Walters-Azeez-Henry Francis-Sousa

Olayinka-Hutchinson-Flores

Subs: Ideho (for Sousa, 78), Butler-Oyedeji (for Henry-Francis, 81), Ibrahim (for Olayinka, 115). Not used: Ejeheri.

The Middlesbrough side included 34-year-old goalkeeper Luke Daniels and talented youngster Josh Coburn.

Hutchinson had the first effort of the game, with his effort being saved by Daniels following an intricate move which also involved Marcelo Flores and James Olayinka .

Flores then had a shot blocked after Walters pushed forward well, with Olayinka having performed an impressive dummy.

Middlesbrough started to have more of an impact on the game, with Arsenal goalkeeper Arthur Okonkwo being called into action to tip the ball over the crossbar.

It was a first half that was rather lacking in quality and from Arsenal’s perspective there wasn’t enough cohesiveness with the presence of Biereth sorely missed.

Zak Swanson and Alex Kirk were defending well but the game hadn’t really opened up by this stage.

Arsenal gave a better account of themselves in the early stages of the second half, with Hutchinson having an effort pushed away following an excellent piece of control from Sousa.

Azeez had a quiet first half but became increasingly influential as the game wore on and he frequently played searching passes after dropping deep into midfield.

Swanson went down in the area claiming a penalty but ended up getting booked for diving.

Extra time appeared to be looming but Middlesbrough then took the lead as Joe Gibson swung in an excellent cross and Walker rose highest to head in.

Arsenal responded by bringing on Joel Ideho for Sousa, with the latter having given a good account of himself.

Shortly afterwards Butler-Oyedeji, who hasn’t had many opportunities this season, came on for Henry-Francis, who battled bravely in midfield.

Time seemed to be running out for Arsenal, with Azeez coming close with a free-kick that landed on the roof of the net.

Eventually Arsenal got a lifeline and it came from enterprising play from Butler-Oyedeji, who burst into the area and was fouled.

Hutchinson stepped up to take the spot-kick and scored it to force extra-time.

Buoyed by their late equaliser, Arsenal looked to go in front in the early stages of extra-time.

Ideho had a shot pushed behind for a corner and Arsenal were then awarded an indirect free-kick after Azeez’s cross caused all manner of problems in the penalty area.

Hutchinson took the free-kick but it was from a very difficult angle to the right of the goal and only led to a corner, from which nothing notable occurred.

Bradley Ibrahim replaced Olayinka in the second half of extra-time and then it went to penalties.

Middlesbrough scored their first spot-kick, with Mazeed Ogungbo then missing for Arsenal.

After Middlesbrough scored again, Swanson stepped up for the Gunners and dispatched his effort.

Arthur Okonkwo saved Middlesbrough’s third penalty, with Azeez then scoring for Arsenal.

Middlesbrough scored again before Flores scored for Arsenal following a stuttered run-up.

Okonkwo was unable to keep out Middlesbrough’s fifth penalty, with the pressure then increasing on Hutchinson, who had to score.

Daniels ended up saving Hutchinson’s penalty, with Middlesbrough going through and Arsenal crashing out.

In extra-time Arsenal had seemed the more likely side to progress, with the introductions of Butler-Oyedeji and Ideho providing the team with greater energy.

However, Arsenal’s performance for much of the game was laboured, with the lack of a natural striker a key contributory factor.

Hutchinson and Flores, for instance, couldn’t influence the game as much as they usually do as they didn’t have a target man to link up with.

Despite the pain of this defeat, there were still some positives to take from proceedings for Arsenal.

Azeez’s performance in the second half in particular was encouraging, while Butler-Oyedeji and Ideho were determined to make an impact and they did just that.

Two of the younger players involved, wing-backs Walters and Sousa, also gave good accounts of themselves, which bodes well for the future.

Overall, though, this was a night of frustration for Arsenal, and one that could have been very different had Biereth been available.

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One comment

  1. Great write-up. Agree on all accounts. I know Edwards has been underwhelming when he’s played for the U23s but I’m surprised he isn’t the immediate backup to Biereth.

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