Michael Adu-Poku and Tobi Adeyemo etched their names onto the scoresheet for the Young Hornets before Arsenal completed a second-half comeback to secure their place in the next round of the FA Youth Cup with a 4-2 victory at Vicarage Road.

It was a blistering start for the Hornets as they took the lead inside the opening two minutes. Adu-Poku tapped home Adrian Blake’s squared pass to give the hosts the dream start against the Gunners in front of a packed Sir Elton John Stand.

The Watford faithful would have little time to wait for the second, as Adeyemo doubled his side’s lead after impressive patience from Blake to fashion an opening for the striker. The away side remained dangerous, however, and tested the Hornets’ shot-stopper Gabriel Ortelli on multiple occasions.

Despite an impressive opening half from Charlie Daniels’ charges, Arsenal produced an equally remarkable second-half turnaround as they notched four goals in 13 minutes. Amario Cozier-Duberry converted twice from the spot, while Osman Kamara and Michał Rosiak made it four to secure their place in the quarter-finals of the cup at the Hornets’ expense, despite a valiant effort.

Under-18 Lead Coach Daniels made one change from the side that beat Everton 3-1 in the previous round of the competition, as Hamzat Balogun was replaced by centre-half Ben Casey at full-back. Tom Georgiou, Dawid Hamiga and Zavier Massiah-Edwards were named among the substitutes for the first time in the Youth Cup.

Watford flew out of the blocks and were ahead within the first two minutes, as a well-timed run from Blake was picked out by a driven through-ball from Harry Amass. With plenty of time to pick out his target, Blake passed the ball along the goal to Adu-Poku who bundled the ball home battling with Gunner Lino Sousa.

Following Watford’s first the game became an even affair with both sides testing each other with long-range efforts, but it would be the Young Hornets who would capitalise on their momentum.

The goalscorer, Adu-Poku, created the opportunity by taking on his marker on the edge of the box before firing over a cross to Blake at the back post. The provider for the opener bided his time and picked out Adeyemo who had a simple tap-in to double the Golden Boys’ lead.

Arsenal kept the Hornets honest, despite the home side being in the ascendency. Cozier-Duberry bent a free-kick around the wall, forcing Ortelli to parry the ball away from danger. The ball fell kindly to Seb Ferdinand, who fired the rebound over the crossbar from outside the box.

Cozier-Duberry was once again involved in more positive play for Arsenal as he dinked the ball to the far post minutes later, where captain Bradley Ibrahim was waiting to divert the ball straight at Ortelli who saved with his trailing leg.

Ferdinand again tried his luck next up for the Gunners, cutting inside from the left flank, but his shot deflected off Joshua Mullins and was gratefully grasped by Ortelli.

Before the half-time break, the impetus was taken out of the game following long stoppages for treatment to George Abbott, Ortelli and Arsenal defender Tino Quamina in separate incidents. It meant that after 58 minutes during the first half, Watford left the field of play with a two-goal advantage.

After the interval, Arsenal began the half with momentum as the away side won a spot-kick through half-time substitute Kamara, with the winger brought down by Blake inside the box following a nice stop from Ortelli.

Cozier-Duberry stepped up to the spot and the forward placed the ball to the other side of the goalkeeper to kickstart an Arsenal comeback.

Two quick-fire moves followed for the Gunners, taking advantage of both chances. The first fell to substitute Kamara, who fired home from close range to level the scoring, before the away side turned the pressure up as Rosiak poked home his rebounded effort as Arsenal took the lead in the tie, completing the turnaround within the space of 10 minutes.

Moments later, Arsenal won another spot-kick and Cozier-Duberry increased the Gunners’ lead to two as the forward made it 4-2. With the manic period in the tie having concluded, Arsenal maintained their dominance on the ball as Ethan Nwaneri had his strike saved by an outstretched Ortelli.

However, stunned by Arsenal’s rapid-fire goals, Watford changed systems to go to three at the back and the alteration brought about better chances for the Hornets in the final stages.

Jack Grieves fired a venomous half-volley towards goal, which reverberated off the crossbar, but Daniels’ side couldn’t make a further dent in the scoreline as the Gunners won the fifth-round tie.



Starting XI: Ortelli (GK), Casey (Georgiou 60’), Amass, Davis, Abbott (C), Mullins, Adu-Poku (Massiah-Edwards 77’), Aguilar (Taylor 67’), Adeyemo, Grieves, Blake

Subs not used: Macaulay (GK), Sikiru, Hamiga, Goulandris

Goals: Adu-Poku (2’), Adeyemo (13’)


Starting XI: Cooper (GK), Rosiak, Sousa, Walters, Quamina, Lewis-Skelly, Cozier-Duberry (Kacurri 87’), Ibrahim (C), Benjamin, Gower (Nwaneri 58’), Ferdinand (Kamara HT)

Subs not used: Okonkwo (GK), Nichols, Roberts, Oulad M’hand,

Goals: Cozier-Duberry (56’, 69’), Kamara (64’), Rosiak (66’)

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