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Arsenal 2012

Football Aid 2012 at the Emirates proved to be a hugely entertaining game with the score-line not necessarily a fair reflection of the match. The game itself had 10 goals, controversial penalty decisions, 25 yard screamers and free-flowing football reminiscent of Arsenal's 1st team! The pitch at the Emirates was immaculate and only enhanced ‘the beautiful game' further, with the Arsenal Away side running out 7-3 winners, with Leon Stewart the star man for the Away team scoring 4 goals. However, Goal of the Season contender Dave Taylor, and an impressive performance by Home Midfielder Josh Cribb were also worthy of a mention.

Date: Sunday 6th May 2012
Venue: The Emirates
Arsenal Home vs Arsenal Away
Kick Off: 5:30pm
Match Officials: Steve Daly, Steve Worsley, Peter Cruise and Julian Hitchcock
Legend: Terry Neill

The Away side, playing in blue and turquoise, got the game underway in somewhat cold but otherwise perfect conditions for football.

It only took 1 min for Leon Stewart for the Away team to get on the end of No 9 Renny Carroll's pass between the two centre halves and attempt to capitalise on a Home defence that wasn't fully alert, but fortunately for the Home team Stewart's delicate chip went wide of the target.

Shortly after there was another great chance to break the deadlock and Gary Allen would have been disappointed not to have scored. It was down to great work again by Leon Stewart on the right corner, who beat the left back and delivered a cross for Robert Fullam, who knocked it on to the back post for Allen, unfortunately the Away No 4 could only blaze wide of the target.

The first goal of the game came after 20 mins; Stewart used all his athleticism to somehow create a chance out of nothing with a spectacular scissors kick from 12yards. The Away No 10's effort deflected off Home team Craig Fowke's head, then rebounded back off the bar onto the line and out. However Away Striker Renny Carroll was the first to react, side-footing the loose ball into the corner of the Home team's net, to give his team the lead. (0-1)

The goal seemed to wake up the Home team, as they gained momentum from passing the ball and stretching the well organised Away team. The Home team started to test the Away defence with a few long distance shots, but the ever impressive Away goalkeeper Ronnie Smollet was equal to them. At this stage Adam Canning & Josh Cribb started to get a lot more of the possession and dictate the Home team's play.

However it was that man Leon Stewart again on 28 mins who made the difference, latching on to a pass from Chris Phillips - who had shown great work to win the ball and play it through - Stewart had the time to look up and lob the keeper from 20 yards out. (0-2)

It was two goals in quick succession for Leon Stewart again after he was able to run at the heart of the Home defence and strike another 20 yard strike - this time with his right foot - into the bottom left hand corner. Teammate Chris Phillips would have been pleased with another great run in the centre of midfield to get the ball to the deadly No 10. (0-3)

It could have been all over 3 mins later, when Paul Phillips found himself in plenty of room in the left corner of the box, however he could only find the side-netting with his shot. The constant pressure from the Away team was proving very difficult for the Home team to handle.

Home No 8 Staph Bakali showed great determination after 34mins, receiving a pass from Michelle Crisci on the far right corner of the box before playing a testing cross in to the box. However the defence were able to clear to the edge of the box. Following that Josh Cribb could have been picking up goal of the season if his attempt hadn't rebounded back off the right hand post. He showed fantastic technique to chest the ball, touch it over the defender's head then volley it right-footed, only to be denied by the woodwork! However Matteo Salustro was there to win back the rebound before Steven Earwicker was able to prod the bouncing ball into the far corner of the net to reduce the deficit. (1-3)

After scoring the goal, the Home team were a different side, and continued to hit back at the Away team with a great run from Bakali dribbling it past several Away players before laying it to Earwicker who attempted a delicate chip just inside of the box, with the ball just going over. 

39 mins and playmaker Cribb was determined to make the score-sheet with a long distance effort, but again his effort was well covered by the in-form Smollet.

As the half time whistle went, the players and spectators both knew more goals were to come after a fantastic first half of football. Both teams were demonstrating an attacking style of football and trying to claim victory.

Half-Time: Arsenal Home 1 - 3 Arsenal Away

The 2nd have started with more of the same and there was a massive decision not to give a penalty in the 52nd min which upset the Home team after a ‘claimed' push from Shane Gunstone sent Dave Taylor tumbling inside the box. A decision that could have changed the complexion of the game but a goal kick was the only outcome!

Following that Paul Phillips had a strong free kick saved by the acrobatic Home Goalkeeper Crisci on 54 min, as the Away team started the 2nd half quickly, just like they did the first.

After 61 mins the Home team were celebrating again, Home No 5 Fowkes collected the ball on the near touchline around halfway, then picked out the ever dangerous Dave Taylor with a great lobbed pass, the No 14 was given the time to turn and under pressure drove a stunning 25 yard strike into the top right hand corner, past the despairing dive from Smollet. A fantastic goal to match what was looking like a great comeback from the determined Home team. (2-3)

A few minutes, in scenes reminiscent of a classic Tony Adams tackle, Home skipper Colin Atkins was able to get back just in time after an Away counter attack and deny Phillips of what he thought was a guaranteed goal, and rob Trevor Fairweather of what would have been a very good assist. It was fantastic block to keep the Home team in the game at that stage.

The two goalkeepers were called into action soon after as Michelle Crisci pulled of a fantastic save on 66 mins from a close range effort from Stewart, making sure his team was still in with a chance of claiming a thrilling comeback.

Crisci's opposite number Ronnie Smollet then pulled off a great save from Taylor, after a classic counter attack by the Home team. Taylor was able to turn and strike a lob from 25 yards out to try and catch the keeper out, but he was thwarted by a great diving tip over the bar.

With 20mins to go the Away team increased their lead, Leon Stewart again causing problems after several pass and gos with fellow midfielder Robert Fullam, who was then able to turn inside of Paul Earwicker before unleashing a left footed strike around 10 yards out to give his team a 2 goal cushion again. (2-4)

Matteo Salustro was then unlucky to see his header come back off the post several minutes later, before the follow up effort by Stephen Quantrell went just over. Late replacement Quantrell was unlucky again 2 mins later with a looping header, but Smollett was keeping everything out, this time in spectacular style.

There was another moment of high drama in the 77th min when a debatable penalty was given to the Home side, Russell Godfrey did well to make space in the area and struck a low, goal bound shot; however Away No 8 Paul Phillips did brilliantly to slide in and block the ball. It appeared to strike the defender on the back but a handball was given and Russell Godfrey was able to coolly slot the penalty and send Smollet the wrong way. After watching several video replays after the game, it's safe to say the decision is still not clear-cut either way! (3-4)

The Home team were showing great character at this stage in the quest for an equalising goal, however it was the Away team's standout performer Leon Stewart who turned the game for his side again, scoring his hat trick and his teams 5th in the 83rd min. A great run and pass from Trevor Fairweather found Stewart, who was then was given the time and space to find his way from the wing to penalty spot before finishing in the bottom right corner. (3-5)

Competing with Dave Taylor for the goal of the game, Stewart then struck his 4th goal in the 84th min. Working a quick short corner, the Away side were able to put in a cross before a loose clearance fell to the impressive Midfielder, who drilled a 20 yard shot into the roof of the net. (3-6)

Shortly after Renny Carroll could have made it 7, the chance coming after a great cross from Robert Fullam, but he was unable to keep the shot down. The Away team's 7th and final goal came from just about the last kick of the game. This time it was Robert Fullam from 20 yards out, the Away No 6 showing great skill to curl the ball over the top of the keeper in to the roof of the net. It was a fantastic goal to end what had been a hugely entertaining game. (3-7)

Afterwards, the irrepressible former Arsenal Manager Terry Neill was full of praise for his impressive Away team and 4 goal hero Leon Stewart in particular.

Full-Time: Arsenal Home 3 - 7 Arsenal Away

Man of the Match Home: Josh Cribb
Man of the Match Away: Leon Stewart
Moment of the Match: Dave Taylor 

Home Team: Crisci, Canning, Atkins (C), Fowkes, Cribb, Salustro, Bakali, Earwicker, Wiley, Quantrell, Taylor, Jackson, Godfrey
Home Mascot: Ray Leavenworth Bakali

Away Team: Smollet, Gunstone, Allen, Kiernan, Fullam, C. Phillips (C), P. Phillips, Carroll, Stewart, Fairweather, Salter, Field, Simpson
Away Mascot: Vinnie Phillips