FA Premier Academy League
Carrington, Fri 7 May 2010
MANCHESTER UNITED 1
Arsenal win 5-3 on penalties.
United: Devlin; Brown, Thorpe, Wootton, Fryers; Ajose, Morrison, Tunnicliffe, Brady (Pogba 52); King, Keane (Cofie 110)
Arsenal: Shea; Yennaris, Boateng, Miquel, Evina; Frimpong, Aneke, Henderson, Deacon (Ozyakup, 98); Afobe, Freeman
There was heartbreak for United's U18s as the young Reds lost the Academy play-off semi-final on penalties to Group A winners Arsenal.
After 90 minutes littered with spurned opportunities at both ends, extra-time produced two goals - both from the first touches of substitutes. Oguzhan Ozyakup put the Gunners ahead, then John Cofie equalised to take the tie to a shoot-out. Arsenal scored all five of their penalties but when Ryan Tunnicliffe's spot-kick - United's second - was saved by James Shea, it ultimately proved decisive.
The Gunners go through to the final then by the most slender of margins, but they were undeniably the better side in the first half, settling early and bossing large periods. At times it seemed Conor Devlin's goal was leading a charmed life, particularly when Luke Freeman's shot for Arsenal clipped the base of the post shortly before half-time.
Although the Reds' back four defended doggedly, the ball often came back to them as quickly as they could clear with United's midfielders finding life difficult against an Arsenal engine room that was as beefy as it was talented. Physical prowess counts for a lot at this age, and the visitors had the edge in height and bulk.