Town's youngsters march on

CONNOR Wickham was not even on the team-sheet, and yet he still scored during Ipswich Town Under-18s deserved victory over Cup holders Arsenal last night.

Carl Marston

Arsenal Under-18s 0 Ipswich Town Under-18s 2

CONNOR Wickham was not even on the team-sheet, and yet he still scored during Ipswich Town Under-18s deserved victory over Cup holders Arsenal last night.

Goals in quick succession, from Ronan Murray and Wickham on 11 and 12 minutes respectively, put the visitors firmly in the driving seat in this FA Youth Cup fourth round tie at Barnet's Underhill.

Yet bizarrely, wonder kid Wickham, whose every move has been watched with interest by Premier League scouts this season, did not appear on the official team-sheets.

In fact, even when the 16-year-old first teamer calmly slotted home his goal, to double Town's lead, the Tannoy announcer did not give the goal to Wickham - he read out the name of Caolan Lavery, the No. 9 on the team-sheet, instead! Lavery came on as a substitute late in the second half.

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Both of Town's goals were excellent finishes. Murray burst through on goal and fired past keeper James Dunn, who strangely decided to stay back rather than try and narrow the angle.

Just seconds later and Wickham bagged the killer second. He made no mistake, pouncing onto Billy Clark's excellent pass and burying his shot into the bottom of the net.

Arsenal, who beat Liverpool in last year's final, can have few complaints about the result. They were decidedly second best on the night, and Town richly deserved their passage through to round five, where they will face Fulham.

Town had chances to score even before their quickfire brace.

Clark was not far adrift with a 20-yard drive that whistled over the bar on three minutes.

And Murray spurned a good opportunity to break the deadlock just two minutes later. Town's front-runner left Gunners skipper Cedric Evina trailing in his wake but, with just keeper Dunn to beat, he scuffed his shot wide of target.

However, there was no respite for Arsenal, who were soon two-down and staring down the barrel. They certainly had no answer for the remainder of the first half, as they toiled up the famous Underhill slope.

Luke Freeman was the Gunners' chief weapon. The nippy striker forced Mirko Ranieri into his first save in the 24th minute with a goalbound header that the Tottenham loanee keeper gathered to his left.

Freeman should have halved the deficit before half-time, only to smash across the face of goal from the edge of the six-yard box.

As expected, the Londoners bossed possession after the break, and yet it was Town who came closest to scoring.

An accurate pass from Luke Hyam gave Wickham a clear sight of goal, but for once the big centre-forward fluffed his lines. He pulled his shot well wide from 10 yards out.

Ranieri had far more to do during the final quarter of the game. He punched away a cross-cum-shot from right-back Sead Hajrovic, in front of his near post, and then superbly smothered an angled shot by Emmanuel Frimpong, again in front of his near upright.

His best save was an instinctive punch to safety, from Freeman's firecracker on 72 minutes, after which the hosts were largely kept at bay.

Arsenal were even denied a consolation in stoppage time, when defender Tom Eastman blocked Daniel Boateng's shot.

So Town have now completed a notable hat-trick of victories over Steve Bould's Arsenal side in the last few months, following a 1-0 win in pre-season and a 3-2 success in the FA Premier Academy League.


ARSENAL YOUTHS: Dunn, Hajrovic (sub Yennaris, 76), Evina, Frimpong, Boateng, Miquel, Deacon (sub Meade, 73), Ozyakup, Afobe, Aneke, Freeman. Unused subs: McDermott, Byles, Obed.

IPSWICH TOWN YOUTHS: Ranieri, Bennett, Dunbar, Meekings, Eastman, Hyam, Clark (sub Griffiths, 33), Cawley, Wickham, Murray (sub Lavery,

73) Carson. Unused subs: Brandon, Winstone, McKeown.

Referee: Mr C Knowles

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