The Arsenal Junior teams an August Progress Report: the U23s vs the Clone.

by Andrew Crawshaw

Starting with the U23 team who played four games in August in defence of the League title they won last season.

August 11 – Man City v Arsenal (6 – 5)



Osei-Tutu, Bielik, Pleguezuelo, Bola

Gilmour, Willock, Smith Rowe

Amaechi, Nketiah, Mavididi


Okonkwo (gk), Olayinka, Medley, Olowu, Saka

We started with what will probably be regarded as the craziest game of the season losing by 6 goals to 5 (and missing a penalty which would have given us a draw).

City opened the scoring in the 6th minute thanks to a chipped finish by Nabil Touaizi.  we soon equalised with a Smith Rowe goal and took the lead thanks to a Bielik header from a Charlie Gilmour corner before striker Xavier Amaechi added a third four minutes before half time.  We seemed to be cruising.  In the fourth minute of time added on Adria Barnabe halved our advantage with a great finish from the edge of the box.

In the second half City again got an early goal again through Touaizi but continuing the pattern of the first half Smith Rowe scored to re-establish a lead at 4 – 3.  Defensive errors then resulted in penalties to each team, Taylor Richards scored his for City and Eddie Nketiah missed his – 4 – 4.  Rabbi Matondo then put City in front before Stephy Mavididi equalised with only 4 minutes on the clock 5 – 5.  we were then undone by a long ball only a minute later which Touaizi pounced on, rounding Iliev and rolling the ball into the open net to complete his hat-trick.  A heartbreaking end to a game where we did enough to emerge with a point.

August 20 Arsenal v Brighton (1 – 1)


Deyan Iliev

Jordi Osei Tutu, Julio Pleguezuelo (c, Daniel Ballard, Cohen Bramall

Emile Smith Rowe, Charlie Gilmour i, Joe Willock

Zavier Amaech, Eddie Nketiah, Reiss Nelson


Arthur Okonkwo (gk), Joswph Olowu, James Olayinka, Bukayo Saka, Tyrece John-Jules

Monday evening at the Emirates with a small and largely quiet crowd.  A referee who was in my opinion quite terrible and a match where we dominated without really looking particularly threatening.  Our main attackers were somewhat off song, Eddie, Reiss and Joe Willock all had good opportunities but none managed to find the net.  At the other end Deyan Iliev made a great stop in the first half. 

We had the best of the early exchanges and I noted that Cohen had some good touches and hadn’t lost any of his pace.  Our first shot came in the 12th minute but Reiss got it horribly wrong and it was high and very wide (not what he had in mind).  In Min 14 Reiss beat several defenders despite being fouled, his cross to Eddie was good but the ball was pinched off his toes just as he was about to shoot.  At Minute 15 I noted that Brighton were well drilled and there hadn’t been too much between the teams.

Min 18 and Reiss with another shot but wide left. Min 20 Corner to Brighton but Cohen with a good block which hurt.  Min 28 we should have had a penalty which the Mike Dean clone ignored.  He then gave two quick free kicks to Brighton to rub salt into the wound.  Min 30 Cohen down after making another good block, trainer on but he could continue.  Brighton players bigger and stronger but Arsenal by far the quicker.

Min 35 another foul on an Arsenal player given to Brighton by the Clone.  Good save at his near post by Iliev (first of the match).  Min 40 a great solo run by Joe Willock but his final shot was too high.  Half time no score.

Min 48 and another foul on Eddie in the penalty area which the Clone failed to see.  Min 50 another shot by Eddie blocked, Arsenal pressing hard, Min an Amaechi shot is blocked.  Min 52 the Clone decides to relieve the pressure on Brighton and over-rules the linesman to award a goal kick rather than a corner.  Min 55 another piece of last ditch defending sees Emille have the ball pinched off his toes as he was about to shoot.  Min 57 a Brighton shot goes out for a corner and followed by an easy save by Iliev.

Min 60  Brighton player injured fouling on of our players, the Clone happy to ignore the player on the ground but we play the ball out for a Brighton throw in – WHY????  Following the throw in we get the ball back 60 yards behind the spot where we were attacking!!! 

Min 67 Smith Rowe down, he paused when running a minute or so earlier (didn’t look good).  Min 70 a curler from Reiss just over the bar.  Min 71 Brighton really should have scored , Iliev with a save that went straight to a Brighton player who inexplicably shot wide.  Min 74 Bramall down again – he made another block and this time his ankle couldn’t stand it.  Bukayo Saka on as a replacement.

Min 76 good Arsenal counter attack but Amaechi shot blocked for a corner, from a second corner Eddie so nearly scores.  Min 77 Brighton player deliberately pulls down Iliev off the ball.  Possible red card (and certainly a yellow) but again ignored by the Clone.  Min 78 professional foul on one of our attackers ignored by the Clone – he really is a joke.  Min 81 the old  ‘phantom foul routine’ by the Clone a non-foul punished with a yellow card in a dangerous area. Brighton end up with the ball in our net but the linesman’s flag was up for offside and this time the Clone can’t over-rule his assistant. 

Min 85 more pressure but the final shot well over.  Min 89 AT LAST  a good run down the left hand side ball crossed to Reiss Nelson who turns on it and places it into the net.  To the Arsenal one-nil.  Min 90 and the Fourth Assistant holds up a board indicating 6 extra minutes – WTF.  In the first of which Brighton are awarded another free kick from which they scored (I noted that the player went down as if shot but there appeared to be no-one near him – another ‘phantom foul routine’?).  In the final action there was a great save by Iliev to keep the scores level.

A match where the outcome was somewhat dictated by a Mike Dean Clone but at least we got our points total started.

There is a highlight video on Arsenal player

August 24 West Ham v Arsenal (2 – 3)

A second game in a week and a chance to get the bad taste of the Brighton out of our system.



Olowu, Ballard, Pleguezuelo, Bola

willock, Gilmour, Smith Rowe

Amaechi, Nelson, Nketiah


Hein (gk), Medley, Olayinka, Saka, John-Jules, 

We started brightly and Reiss carved out a great early opportunity for Charlie Gilmour but he failed to find the back of the net.  West Ham then enjoyed a good period of possession but could do no more than create half chances which came to nothing.  Eddie then latched onto a long ball over the Hammer’s defence and unerringly found the bottom corner.  His first of the season (of many we hope).  Our tempo then increased  and within 10 minutes we had doubled our lead thanks to a long range looping header form Pleguezuelo.  Two nil at half time – could we push on?

The answer was no – we started the second half poorly and allowed West Ham to pull a goal back.  Xande Silva was left unmarked in the box and headed in from close range.  Eddie restored our two goal advantage four minutes later with his second.  We had further chances but in the 60th minute Oxford bundled the ball in from our 6 yard box as we failed to clear our lines.  Nketiah came mightily close to a hat-trick with a 20 yarder which rattled the cross bar and Amaechi nearly scored with an effort inches wide.  We hung on and emerged with our first win of the season.

There is a highlight video on Arsenal Player

August 31 Arsenal v Spurs ( 2 – 1)

Our second Friday evening match at the Emirates, this time I was unable to be there so the report is far briefer.



Olowu, Pleguezuelo, Ballard  Bola,

Amaechi, Smith Rowe, Joe Willock

John-Jules, James Olayinka, Charlie Gilmour


Okonkwo, Sheaf, Burton, Saka, Balogun

We goy off to the best possible start when a left side attack in the third minute produced a cross which was helped on its way to Joe Willock who made no mistake placing it into the net.  One nil to the Arsenal in the third minute.  Soon after we had another goal bound effort blocked and then the Spurs Keeper Brandon Austin made the first of a string of good saves to keep Spurs in the game.  Willock was the next to be denied by the keeper.  Smith Rowe thought he had the second goal just before half time but a late flag indicated he was offside.

Just before the hour mark we did double our advantage when a loose ball in the box was hit by Tyreece John-Jules right foot and straight into the bottom left hand corner of the net.  We had a chance to make it three when we were awarded a penalty following a tackle on Tolaji Bola.  The Spurs defender protested vehemently that he had got the ball and the highlight video on Arsenal player indicates that he had in fact got the ball cleanly so it shouldn’t have been a penalty.  Charlie’s effort wasn’t very convincing and not for the first time Austin got to the ball. 

We then dominated the rest of the game with Spurs players becoming increasingly frustrated, leading to tempers boiling over and Tony Parrott being dismissed for pushing over Julio Pleguezuelo in an off the ball incident.  Spurs were somewhat lucky that he was the only player dismissed.  In the dying embers of extra time Spurs got a consolation goal through Harrison.  In truth they were outplayed from the first whistle and were somewhat lucky to only lose by a single goal.  It could and should have been a far bigger score from Arsenal and would have been but for the heroics of their keeper.

Again there are highlights on the Arsenal Player – if you haven’t already got an account go to and set one up – it’s free and you can often get live footage of matches other than first team.

Here is the League Table after four games

Team W D L +/- Pts
1 Everton 2 2 0 4 8
2 Leicester 2 1 1 4 7
3 Chelsea 2 1 1 3 7
4 Arsenal 2 1 1 1 7
5 Man City 2 1 1 -2 7
6 Brighton 1 3 0 5 6
7 West Ham 2 0 2 0 6
8 Derby 1 2 1 -1 5
9 Liverpool 0 3 1 -1 3
10 Swansea 0 3 1 -1 3
11 Spurs 0 2 2 -3 2
12 Blackburn 0 1 3 -9 1


Shaking hands with Per Mertesacker and Tony Adams and a 3-0 victory over Coventry

4 Replies to “The Arsenal Junior teams an August Progress Report: the U23s vs the Clone.”

  1. The next game for the U23s is at Ewood Park on Monday evening 19:00 kickoff against Blackburn. Would be a good evening’s entertainment for any Gooners within travelling distance.

  2. I think “The Clone” is Paul Howard. In the National League he has done 5 games this year, and handed out 16 yellows. In PL2, he has done one game and given 4 yellows. I see lots of complaints against him, but as I am not looking at data for all referees, I’ve no idea if there is anything out of the ordinary.

    It would seem he has a thing for 4 yellows per game.

  3. @Gord,

    I deliberately omitted his name – he was truly awful and I’m afraid I used some quite inappropriate language about him at times bearing in mind the number of youngsters present! I just hope we don’t ever get him again.

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