FA Youth Cup – Arsenal v Crewe Alexandra

FA Youth Cup – Arsenal v Crewe Alexandra

  • Meadow Park, Borehamwood Thursday 19th February
  • Match Report by Andrew Crawshaw

Crewe Alexandra FC are currently in 18th place in League 1 (third tier of professional football); the club was formed in 1877 and named after Princess Alexandra, they were founding members of the second division in 1892 but only lasted four years in the league. Since regaining admission in 1921 they have mostly featured in the lower divisions.

Their only major trophy to date is the Football League Trophy which they won in 2013. They are known as the Railwaymen because of the Towns extensive and historic links with the Railway Industry.

The Crewe Academy achieved official status as a FA Youth Academy in the late 1990s. Past alumni include Rob Jones, Danny Murphy, Seth Johnson, Dean Ashton and David Vaughan.

In the final game of the 2012/13 season the entire Crewe first team was composed of Academy graduates. Sales of Academy players have also helped to make Crewe profitable in most years (a rare thing in the football league).



1 Ryan Huddart (GK)

2 Renny Smith

3 Tyrell Robinson

4 Ainsley Maitland-Niles

5 Stefan O’Connor

6 George Dobson

7 Aaron Eyoma

8 Gedion Zelalem

9 Stephy Mavididi

10 Daniel Crowley (C)

11 Chris Willock

Subs 12 Mark Bola, 13 Hugo Heto (GK), 14 Ben Sheaf, 15 Harry Donovan and 16 Elliot Wright


1 Kieran Harrison (GK); 2 Joe Kearns; 3 Chris Speed; 4 Andre Brown; 5 Joe Howell;  6 Charlie Kirk; 7 Jamie Morgan; 8 Johnny Higham; 9 Tom Lowery; 10 Jon Moran;  11 Toby Mullarkey

Subs 12 Liam O’Neill, 13 Liam Matthews (GK), 14 Matt Neal, 15 Oliver Finney, 16 George Cooper, 17 Callum Ainley, 18 Michael Pino, 19 Harry Pickering and 20 Ryan Winkle

This was the third time of asking for this tie, twice scheduled at Borehamwood but cancelled due to the pitch first being frozen then waterlogged. This time the game proceeded at a very cold and windy Barnet ground where the 330 spectators were ushered into an open stand (at least it wasn’t raining).

The pitch looked in decent condition but many of the players had problems keeping their footing as the game progressed. Come on Arsenal we need to do better than this, surely we can create a ground with spectator facilities where we are in charge of pitch preparation. The arrangements for this game were little short of farcical.

First impressions were that the Crewe players were nearly all far bigger and looked older than our players, not uncommon at this level. Our team sheet also looked light with a number of players missing. This was borne out by Jeorge Bird in his review last night. He said, “Krystian Beliek was unable to play due to registration issues, Kaylen Hinds, Chiori Johnson, Tafari Moore and Julio Pleguezelo were all injured” leaving coach Frans De Kat short of options in both defence and attack.

Crewe started brightly and on the front foot causing the somewhat makeshift Arsenal defence problems from the start. They were rewarded in the 6th minute when a defensive mistake allowed their No 10 Jon Moran to open the scoring.

The Crewe domination continued for the next 15 minutes or so when we were unable to present any kind of cohesive response; put simply we were overwhelmed and at times unable to play two passes consecutively. Crowley seemed to be playing in the deeper midfield role whilst Zelalem had the more advanced playmaker position but didn’t seem to have the appetite for the game (this has been a recurring issue for me with him at this level this year – he has seemed dis-interested more often than involved; more Berbatov than Sanchez but without the end product).

Gradually we came more into the game and in minute 37 had our first effort on goal when Crowley had a shot. Half time came and the score remained one nil.

We needed to start the second half in the same way as we finished the first, but we had a repeat of the first half instead and in Minute 48 went two down Hudddart palmed a dangerous cross which hit Stefan O,Connor and rebounded over the helpless Huddart. An own goal out of the Arsenal book but still difficult to take.

This seemed to spur our lads into action and they pressed hard to get back into the game but never really threatened the Crewe keeper. In truth for the most part Crewe looked far more likely to score a third than we did a first.

Our luck seemed to change in minute 65 when Mavididi scored from a Zelalem assist but immediately Crewe restored the two goal advantage when another defensive error allowed Andre Brown to score.

Towards the end Arsenal at last woke up a bit offensively and presses to try and get back into the game and in Minute 83 Substitute Marc Bola scored the most impressive goal of the night to make the score Arsenal 2 Crewe 3. Despite pressure from Arsenal that remained the final score and Crewe now play Manchester City in the next round.

The better team won and at times it was a pretty poor performance from Arsenal. Some of our players were out of position and uncomfortable and/or ineffective in their new roles and there is clearly a lot of work to do at this level before they become truly competitive.


The books

14 Replies to “FA Youth Cup – Arsenal v Crewe Alexandra”

  1. I attended last night. It was the first youth game I’ve been to since the 2009 season. I’m afraid it seemed to me from the off that this side will struggle to produce a single player who will come through to the first team. This includes Zelealem who seems to have gone backwards and Crowley,who was pretty well bossed by his opposite number – who was of equally diminutive stature. Really pretty average players throughout, especially the two centre halves who were dreadful. Frankly I wonder what the scouts and coaching staff have been doing since 2009. Gives me no pleasure to say it but there’s no point In trying to embellish….

  2. I watched quite a bit of that tournament the u17’s were in recently, Al Kass, it featured a lot of good play from us and some great individual skills- the thought of mixing that team with some of the other even better individual talents led to hope they could really do something this year. Guess not.

    All that can be said, in terms of not seeing this year’s results as proof there might not be as many top prospects as you’d hope, is that the club is ultra serious in its development over all else policy to youth football. A great insight I read once, from someone who had spoken to an Arsenal man who knows his stuff, is that should they have a keeper they like but who is having a bad time with an aspect of his game, say, dealing with crosses, they’ll keep him in there and tell him he has to make extra effort to keep coming for them.

    This would explain a lot to me, like the refusal to use the best u18s in the u18s even when they are in a very bad patch, the consistent determination they show to fast=track players and, most of all, their continuing to play Zelalem, until last night, right in the heart of the midfield, even though the results are mixed. I guess they think : we like this kid, but the aim is the premier league, and that means contact and ferocious play, so let’s keep him where he’ll get the most of that at this level.

    That’s the positive take. The negative is that there are a lot of signs they literally follow the first team in sometimes putting together teams high on technicians but ill equipped to cope with English football when the going gets roughest and most frenzied. When it does, the technicians still have more than a good chance of prevailing- so long as you have a damn good ref who doesn’t see letting a lot of robust stuff, i.e. fouls, go as some sort of English football man’s duty.

    Willock was able to torment youngsters from Milan and River Plate with consummate ease. It was foul or be beaten every time, but it was noticeable that no team, even the outrageously dirty River Plate, did what an English side would do in that situation- foul harder and harder until he stops doing it, goes off injured, or you get sent off. Or at least put in his mind that he is in real danger of injury.

    To make it at Arsenal he will, sadly, have to become a lot more economical and judicious in the use of his skills. Not the first time I’ve seen someone like that and found myself thinking ‘those skills are superb, they rival those of the best from any nation…but you are headed for the premier league, with arsenal’ Wilshere was a notable other.

    This may not have been the case last night, I’ve no idea and don’t want to disrespect Crewe who may have simply played well, but it does normally hold true. Also, the catalogue of injuries for the young defenders is pretty appalling this year.

    Anyway, the proof of whether good work was done is always delayed by a season or two : Bellerin, Akpom and Gnabry prove good work was done in fairly fallow years for results, maybe the same will happen this time.

  3. There are brief highlights of the game on Arsenal.com. I wish Crewe the best of luck in the competition, they were deserved winners yesterday. No-one particularly praiseworthy but an excellent team performance.

  4. Gord, wrong

    Planning Application before the Committee:

    12.2 Should the S106 legal agreement not be completed by 3rd March 2015 it is recommended that the Managers of Planning and Building Control be given delegated powers, if considered appropriate, to refuse the planning application for the reason set out below:

    the proposed development by reason of its use, scale, height and bulk, is not considered appropriate facilities for outdoor sport and is by definition inappropriate development in the Green Belt. Suitable provision of sporting activities for young people in Hertsmere has not been secured, and therefore a case of very special circumstances has not been established to outweigh the harm of the development in the Green Belt. The principle of development is therefore unacceptable Core Strategy (2013) and saved policy C1 of the Local Plan (2003).and contrary to the NPPF (2012), policy CS13 of the Core Strategy (2013) and saved policy C1 of the Local Plan (2003).

    The minutes of the meeting confirm this refusal, UNTIL Mr R Marshall addresses the issues raised!

  5. I don’t know what Arsenal proposed, do you know Notoverthehill?

    I did a strawman proposal for a building a year or so ago, which included a living roof. This seems to be an accessible to provide greenspace on top of a biulding. Is that part of the proposal, or acceptible (in your opinion)?

  6. World Cup 2022 – Nov/Dec – Musing about schedules.

    The 2014 World Cup was about 5 weeks (2 days short). I seen one write up which had a last day of Dec 23 (which is a Friday) for 2022. There is no way 2022 will have a last day of Christmas, so I’ll guess Dec 18 for last day. I think a person wants to push the tournament as deep into December as is possible, for the same reason to have it in November, cooler temperatures. The beginning of November can still be quite warm there.

    I think Wenger gives all players 4 weeks post World Cup, which would be a Jan 15 restart to EPL. The start (for 32 teams) would be Nov 24. I think national teams want 4 weeks to prepare. Which looks like Oct 23 would be the last day of games before the World Cup break.

    If the league starts on Sunday, July 31, and we run 1 game per week for the first “2 weeks”, we have Jul 31, Aug 6/7 and Aug 13/14. We then start 2 games per week until Oct 8/9 when we switch back to 1 game per week. Game days: Jul 31, Aug 6/7, Aug 13/14, Aug 17/18, Aug 20/21, Aug 24/25, Aug 27/28, Aug 31/Sep 1, Sep 3/4, Sep 7/8, Sep 10/11, Sep 14/15, Sep 17/18, Sep 21/22, Sep 24/25, Sep 28/29, Oct 1/2, Oct 5/6. Which is 18 game days, before the World Cup break. And there are problems, because that leaves no time for pre group stage Champion’s League games, regular Champion’s League games, or Europa League games. Or breaks for international play.

    Three and a half months for half the league (18 games). With that Jan 15 restart, 3.5 months of the same brutal schedule would see teams have 36 games finished by the end of April/Beginning of May. There are still Champion’s League and Europa League games to work with. Weather postponements?

    I am going to suggest that the Premier League not have a League Cup that year, and that the Premier League will not participate in FA Cup that year. And that each team probably be allowed to carry an additional 5 players to cope with the heavy schedule. If extra players per team will be needed, or if international breaks are imposed by FIFA, I think the league must look for compensation.

  7. Art?

    A media place put up 23 of its picks from an art collection of football greats.


    That page has a link to the artists’s page. On her lead page, she has 6 poster images, which each lead to a gallery of images, and she has other kinds of images (life is more than football). Anyway, she apparently is into the facebook/twitter thing, and has buttons for you to push. I don’t do either, so no sense me pushing buttons.

  8. Nor explained well.

    Of the many images on the lead page, 6 are football related. But, if you are an art person, you will probably enjoy her site. But, if nothing else, visit the SportJoe site, to get a taste of at least 23 images.

Comments are closed.