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Arsenal 2014

It was a warm but slightly overcast day that saw the Football Aid 2014 match at the Emirates stadium, home to the Gunners. This did not dampen the atmosphere in the slightest though and both teams played very well in both defence and attack. They gave it their all right to the final whistle and kept the spectators well entertained with an exciting match that ended 1-5 to the Away team after the team in Yellow and Blue demonstrated an edge in the attacking areas of the play.

Date: Tuesday 20th May 2014
Venue: The Emirates
Arsenal (Home) vs Arsenal (Away)
Kick off: 10:00 am
Legends: Chris Whyte
Match Officials: Matt Leary, Peter Munt, Steve Daly, Gordon Manning

Both teams were in high spirits before the game and banter was flowing as the teams worked out who was on 1st and decided what formation they would play. There was much cheering from the spectators as the players lined up before shaking hands and getting into position. The captains and officials met in the middle where the Home side won the toss and elected to stay down the Clock End while the Away side, in their Yellow and Blue change kits, kicked off.

Right from the start the Away side were putting pressure on the Home team and retaining position at their opposition's end of the field. This pressure paid off early on as well when Striker Ben Leslie carried the ball up field with help from his teammates while navigating past opposition defenders. He then passed it into the box to Left-Mid Joe Laing, whose lovely back heel found fellow Striker and Captain Dave Taylor who managed to chip the ball over the sliding Max Sjoblom in goal, the keeper unable to prevent the ball ending up in the back of the net. This gave the Away said the lead in the 10th min (0-1).

They didn’t stop there either. The Away side continued to retain much of the possession and kept looking to get shots on goal. No 9 Dave Taylor in particular got a good shot on goal after No 10 Oliveira Dilan had played him in, Taylor powered into the box past the defence but his strong shot at goal was kept out by a great save by Max Sjoblom, who charged out and managed to get a hand to the ball.

The Away team continued to test Home keeper Sjoblom as they got more shots on goal and they finally managed to get the ball past him in the 29th min. Left-Mid Joe Laing carried the ball down the left wing and into the box where he was tripped up by Home Right Back Russel Levi. The ref pointed to the spot and Laing confidently stepped up to put the ball high and left into the back of the net, sending the keeper the wrong way. The Away side were 2 goals ahead and there was more pain to come for the Home side soon after (0-2).

Try as they might the Home side could not make it past the Away defence, although they came close on a few occasions. However the Away team continued to manoeuvre the ball around the Home half, looking for another goal and they got it in the 37th min. A cross came into the box from a corner and everyone in the box missed it until it came to the back post and Centre-Mid Oliveira Dilan smashed the ball into the top of the net leaving the keeper no chance to save it. The Away team were now a full three goals clear of their opponents with time running out in the 1st half (0-3).

Unfortunately for the Home team they were unable to get their names on the scoreboard before half time and the Away side walked off the pitch with a comfortable lead. The Home team had to do some serious thinking over half time to plan a comeback and they were optimistic it could be done by the time the break was finished. The mood in the Away changing room was understandably content as they felt secure in their lead and after re-energising and planning their 2nd half strategies the teams marched back out to continue the match.

Half Time: Arsenal (Home) 0 - 3 Arsenal (Away)

The 2nd half was started off by the Home team but the Away side quickly had the ball in their possession and made very good use of it. No 10 Oliveira Dilan intercepted the ball after a misplaced pass from the Home team. He passed forward to centre-half Lionel Murith, who ran around two defenders before calmly curling the ball past the Home Keeper Max Sjoblom into the back of the net. He had now put the Away side a full 4 goals clear of their rivals in the 49th min (0-4).

This seemed to finally galvanise the Home team into action. They fought harder and tightened up their defence before charging up the Away end. Then they jumped at the chance when the Away keeper sent the ball casually to one of his defenders. The defender slightly fumbled the ball and Striker Steve Harding seized the ball and quickly lobbed Keeper Andrew Wood who was too far out to try and stop the shot. The Home side had narrowed the Away side's lead in the 54th min and finally got the goal their play had deserved (1-4).

Some very good attacking play followed but there was some even better defensive play on show and neither team were able to break the deadlock until the final 10 mins. Both teams had some fantastic chances with the Away side almost immediately striking back but try as they might, of the four shots they took in that particular attack, none of them made it past the defence or keeper Max Sjoblom who was having a tremendous game in goal.

Both teams tried hard to get close to goal but more often than not they were kept out of the box by stalwart defending. Some good efforts from distance from the Away side couldn’t make it past the Home Keeper and even when the Away side were gifted an indirect free kick inside the box, after a slightly harsh judgement from the referee, they weren’t able to increase their lead. A strong strike from No 2 Adam Canning looked to be going straight into the back of the net, however keeper Max Sjoblom pulled off a sensational save that demonstrated his lightning quick reactions.

No matter how much pressure the Away side exerted on the Home side their defence refused to crack and numerous close efforts continued to be thwarted. The Home side weren’t able to capitalise on their chance when it came either. A sliding tackle on No 6 Joseph Leavenworth-Bakali when he was closing in on goal forced the referee to award a penalty. He dusted himself down and stepped up to take the penalty himself, however goalkeeper Andrew Wood pulled off a fantastic save to ensure the Home side didn't encroach on the Away team's lead.

It wasn’t until the 83rd min that the Away side finally managed to grab another great goal, to restore their 4 goal advantage. No 4 Lionel Murith passed forward to No 9 Dave Taylor who carried the ball from the half way line all the way down the right wing to the corner of the 6 yard box. He then proceeded to smash home the goal from a difficult angle, giving the MOTM winning keeper Max Sjoblom no chance.  This gave the clinical striker his 2nd goal of the game and made the score 1-5 with a little over 7 mins to go (1-5).

Despite their efforts the Home team were unable to reduce the Away side’s unassailable lead and the Away side weren’t giving them any chance to do so. Indeed the Away side almost put themselves even further ahead after a long pass forward allowed Right-Back Adam Canning and three teammates to move in behind the defence. Canning then passed to Dave Taylor whose effort was kept out by a miraculous save by the Home Keeper. Taylor chose to shoot initially and when the ball came back off the wood work Sjoblom showed great alertness to get to the ball 1st and punch it away before an attacker could pounce on it.

The game ended shortly afterwards and both teams could be proud of their efforts in producing such an entertaining game. There were plenty of chances on goal for both sides but great defensive play kept the scores low and the goalkeepers Max Sjoblom and Andrew Wood in particular were part of the reason the scores ended up the way they did. Overall the game had been extremely exciting; with plenty of jump out the seat moments and the watching fans in the Emirates stands had enjoyed a 1st class experience at one of the most impressive stadiums in the land.

Full time: Arsenal (Home) 1 - 5 Arsenal (Away)

Man of the Match Home: Max Sjoblom
Man of the Match Away: Lionel Murith
Moment of the Match: Steve Harding

Home Team: Max Sjoblom, Russel Levi, Chris Whyte, Mark Freeman, Michael Gaeton (C), Joseph Leavenworth-Bakali, Glen Phillimore, Martyn Sands, Massimo Bassi, Connor Freeman, Steve Harding, Mark Feehan, Daniel Stainsby, Howard Kosky
Home Mascot: Max Selley

Away Team: Andrew Wood, Adam Canning, Chris Whyte, Lionel Murith, Glenn Barruw, Axel Ruch, Carlos Machado, Joe Laing, Dave Taylor (C), Oliveira Dilan,
Craig Fowkes, Jonathon Reilly, Steven Westhead
Away Mascot: Isabella Laing