Sunday 24 July 2011

Stevenage 0 Arsenal XI 1 - match report & ratings

While the first team were winning 2-1 in Cologne, thanks to new signing Gervinho’s brace, Arsenal fans who didn’t make the trip were treated to a dull victory over dogged opposition in less-perfumed surroundings (i.e. Stevenage is not Cologne, get it?).
There were no queues in evidence on an autumnal day in July, but plenty of fans shouting ‘robbery’ after paying £15 for a ticket behind the goal. Tickets were issued at the turnstiles in what seemed to be a throwback to yesteryears when attendance figures were allegedly fiddled. I’m not saying that was the case here, as there was no official announcement of the number that turned up. That may have been a blessing as the Stevenage PA announcer was in full cock-up mode, or should I say Oguzhan Ozyakup mode, as he got the away fans laughing with his abortive attempt at pronouncing the former Holland U-17 international’s name.
Ozyakup looked one of Arsenal’s sharper players early on, when he foiled an opposition attack, following Samuel Galindo’s first stray pass. However, Ozyakup’s attempt to goad his fellow central midfielder, Galindo, into stepping up a gear had a detrimental effect, with the Bolivian struggling for a while after a very promising start.
Indeed, Galindo was one of the few players getting stuck in and moving the ball around quickly, so it seemed a tad unfair of Ozyakup to single him out. Central defender Daniel Boateng was having a torrid time, passing into touch frequently, although he managed to pick up his game in the second half. The forwards couldn’t get into the game and even the goalkeeper, Reice Charles- Cook, was almost caught dwelling on a back pass.
Like the first team, Arsenal were vulnerable to the ball over the top. Had it not been for left back George Brislen-Hall’s timely interventions, the Gunners may have trudged off a goal or two down at half-time.
Brislen-Hall was man-of-the-first-half, but in the second half he found himself on the backfoot more frequently thanks to the trickery of former Bristol City winger Jennison Myrie-Williams. The substitute wideman was much more effective for Stevenage than the former Arsenal and Spurs man he replaced, Rohann Ricketts.
However, Arsenal were also more incisive in the second period and actually began to register shots on target! Whatever next? Goals? Erm, yes, actually.
Chuks Aneke, who had been involved in a couple of off-the-ball scuffles, netted with a superbly placed curler, scoring what turned out to be the winner.
Liam Brady’s charges should be proud of this result, given that Stevenage had beaten Fulham’s first team 1-0 in a recent friendly.
1. Reice Charles-Cook – 8 – pulled off some great second half saves and his handling was good. Needs to remember not to dwell on the ball too long and needs to concentrate on his kicking.
2. Nico Yennaris – 7 – a reasonable shift, but got caught out a couple of times.
3. George Brislen-Hall – 7 – an excellent first half, but was less assured after the break.
4. Samuel Galindo – 7 – a great start and then a brief ‘iffy’ period ensued, before he got on his game once more.
5. Sead Hajrovi – 7 – the Swiss central defender proved he’s quite a cool customer with good positioning.
6. Daniel Boateng – 5 – after a very poor first half, he picked up his game.
7. Henri Lansbury – 6 – although we all he’s a class act, he didn’t really prove it often enough.
8. Oguzhan Ozyakup – 7 – showed some good touches and displayed some fighting spirit, but he needs to learn to get the best out of his team-mates. Not all of them will respond well to nagging after they’ve made a mistake. Has the confidence to take free kicks, but needs to make sure he doesn’t just smash the ball into the wall.
9. Sanchez Watt – 6 – very quiet.
10. Chuks Aneke – 7 – after a slow start started to get more involved and scored an excellent goal.
11. Luke Freeman – 7 – had a quiet first half but caused Stevenage problems in the second with his running, dribbling and crossing ability.
12. Martin Angha – 6 – the Swiss defender put in a reasonable 17-minute shift.
14. Zak Ansah – 5 – didn’t really manage to contribute much of consequence in his 30 minutes on the pitch.
15. Jernade Meade – 7 – The tiny Luton-born midfielder made a huge impact, coming on with 20 minutes remaining.

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