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Thursday 18 September K.O. 20:05



Underhill, Barnet | 18th February 2013 19:00

Arsenal U18s v Everton U18s

Everton Under-18s progressed to the sixth round of the FA Youth Cup with a thumping 4-2 victory at Arsenal.

Matthew Pennington, Chris Long, Conor Grant and Harry Charsley all found themselves on the scoresheet, with three of those strikes coming during a frantic 10-minute period at the start of the second half.

Everton Under-18s celebrate Matthew Pennington's equaliser.Everton Under-18s celebrate Matthew Pennington's equaliser.

On a still, cold night at Underhill - home of Barnet Football Club - the Blues faced the Gunners with a home tie against Norwich or Birmingham City on offer.

It was much the same Everton line-up as in the previous round at Port Vale, with Harry Charsley the only change to the side, replacing Ryan Ledson in midfield.

But it was to be the Gunners that drew first blood on 11 minutes through lively forward Chuba Akpom.

A nicely worked move saw Isaac Hayden play Anthony Jeffrey towards the byline on the right - and his low cross was finished at close-range by the hosts' number nine.

In sharp contrast to waiting until the last breath of normal time to restore parity at Vale Park, the Blues hit back almost immediately.

Matthews Kennedy and Pennington caught the eye that night, and the duo inadvertently combined to make it 1-1 on 13 minutes.

Enjoying another trickery-filled evening on the left wing, Scotland Under-19 international Kennedy raced past his markers but was promptly fouled before he could deliver into the centre.

The resulting free-kick did enter the  box, however, as skipper Tom Molyneux whipped in for Pennington to direct a header beyond Deyan Iliev.

Matthew Pennington heads home to make it 1-1.Matthew Pennington heads home to make it 1-1.

That rapid start set the tone for the contest, with two of the country's leading academies keen to get their hands on the coveted trophy.

But most of the action was to come after the interval.

And it appeared as if only one side had emerged in the second half.

A near-immediate counter-attack saw the ball almost fall kindly to Charsley - instead it rolled off his back and into the path of Long charging forward.

An instinctive half-volley sent the ball goalwards, but a wicked deflection gave Iliev even less chance of making a save - instead, the ball flew perfectly into the top corner.

Team celebrations at the corner flag ensued, but the Blues would be back there again just two minutes later.

The Blues celebrate Conor Grant's strike against the Gunners.The Blues celebrate Conor Grant's strike against the Gunners.

With the Gunners shocked, a ball into the box proved too dangerous to clear and an Arsenal defender instead fired a clearance against both posts.

As everyone else stood flat-footed, it was left for the well-placed Grant to fire in before leading the slides back into the corner.

Serge Gnabry struck a post on 54 minutes as the hosts looked to reply, but a deadly counter-attack was to follow.

And it was a superb team move, as Kennedy seized upon a poorly-taken Arsenal free-kick, to find Long. An interchange of passes between the number 10, the tireless Pennington and finally Charsley provided the killer blow past a mesmerised Iliev.

Harry Charsley grabs Everton's fourth of the night at Underhill.Harry Charsley grabs Everton's fourth of the night at Underhill.

Gnabry did find the back of the net - his exsquisite maneuouvre and curling shot nestling in the net on 70 minutes to make it 4-2 to Everton.

Long struck the woodwork with a scorching effort of his own, while the fading Akpom was still active enough to force another diving save from Griffiths.

Despite earnest efforts from the Londoners, Everton had done the damage with that clinical start to the second period.

Through to the sixth round, an additional two-legged semi-final stands in any route to the final.

Whether or not this could be Everton's first FA Youth Cup win since 1998 remains to be seen, but they can surely take great confidence from this victory against one of the tournament favourites.

Ryan Ledson, Gethin Jones and Matthew Kennedy celebrate victory at the full-time whistle.Ryan Ledson, Gethin Jones and Matthew Kennedy celebrate victory at the full-time whistle.


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