Report: Under-23s beaten by Gunners

Albion concede three first-half goals as they fall to 5-0 defeat in Premier League 2.

By Bruce Talbot • 22 January 2021

By Nigel Keene
Lars Dendoncker, left, goes close in the second half, watched by Ed Turns.

Albion under-23s suffered a second successive Premier League 2 defeat as they went down 5-0 to a ruthless Arsenal at Boreham Wood FC.

Simon Rusk’s team conceded two goals in the first ten minutes and it was always going to be a struggle from there with the Gunners adding a third before the break after Albion had enjoyed a decent spell.

Albion went close on several occasions to getting back in the game as they enjoyed some good spells of pressure in the second half, but Arsenal added two more goals in the last five minutes.

Head coach Rusk was able to name a more experienced team than the one beaten 5-1 at home by Spurs last week with Jensen Weir and Teddy Jenks, who were on the bench for the last two Premier League matches, included.

But Albion fell behind after six minutes when Tom McGill was beaten by Miguel Azeez’ powerful strike from the edge of the box. Four minutes later Folarin Balogun, who had already been denied by McGill, made it 2-0.

By Nigel Keene
Jack Spong and James Furlong challenge for possession.

To their credit Albion regrouped and James Furlong and Jenks were both denied by Gunners’ keeper Arthur Okonkwo before Danny Cashman dug out a cross which Joe Olowu cut out with Jenks ready to pounce. Peter Gwargis fired wide after cutting in from the left but instead of getting the goal their pressure perhaps merited it was Arsenal who stretched their lead just before the break when Balogun netted his second.

Albion thought they had pulled one back within a minute of the restart when Lars Dendoncker got on the end of Furlong’s great free-kick and volleyed it goalwards but a combination of Okonkwo and a defender smuggled it away as the Belgian defender claimed it crossed the line.

The visitors continued to carry the greater threat in the second half with Weir not far away from outside the box after he brought the ball out of defence. Okonkwo then made a good save from Weir’s curling free kick from just outside the box.

By Nigel Keene
Ayo Tanimowo breaks clear.

The goalkeeper then thwarted Cashman before McGill was forced into his first second-half save when he kept out Ben Cottrell.

Albion kept plugging away. Cashman’s deft flick, after Ayo Tanimowo picked him out, flew just wide but with five minutes to go Nikolaj Moller tapped home from close range, meeting a cutback from the line to earn the hosts had their fourth goal. There was still time for Balogun to complete his hat-trick.

The scoreline reflected harshly on Albion’s spirited efforts but they must dust themselves down and prepare for another tough test at Chelsea next Friday.

Albion: McGill, Tanimowo, Furlong, Weir, Dendoncker, Crofts, Jenks, Spong, Cashman (Ella 86), Ferguson (Vukoje 67), Gwargis (Turns 45). Unused subs: Talley, Leonard.