Arsenal ‘keeper Cook frustrates Boro
Arsenal stopper produces string of fine saves to thwart Boro
Stevenage 0 Arsenal XI 1
A STUNNING individual performance from Arsenal goalkeeper Reice Cook frustrated Stevenage and allowed Arsene Wenger’s stars of tomorrow to escape from the Lamex Stadium victors by the single goal.
Cook proved an unbeatable wall for Boro with a string of fine stops to thwart the home side as they piled on the pressure in the second half.
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The young Arsenal stopper was quick off his line to block from Robin Shroot after Michael Bostwick’s blocked shot had fallen kindly for the Boro trialist and the ‘keeper was at it again, springing across his goal line to claw substitute Chris Beardsley’s effort away from danger.
The ‘keeper’s best effort however came sandwiched between those two saves when he denied Bostwick from a free kick. Boro were awarded the free kick after good build up play down the left wing involving Jennison Myrie-Williams and Darius Charles, the latter’s cross finding Shroot who was cynically scythed down the edge of the box. The free kick was a simple but effective routine, the ball rolled into the path of Bostwick for the 24-year-old to dispatch one of his customary hammer drives and all looked to be going well when the midfielder had the ball arrowing into the top corner that was until Cook flew across his goal and stuck out a paw to tip the ball away from the target.
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It was symptomatic of Boro’s luck on a day that was slow to get started. Ronnie Henry failed to shrug off a dead leg he sustained in the warm up forcing an early switch for Boro in a first half of few chances. Henry’s place was taken by Jon Ashton, his first football of the summer, while there was a start for trialists Rohan Ricketts.
When opportunities did come both sides were guilty of profligacy. Henri Lansbury, the most high profile member of Arsenal’s young squad, picked out Luke Freeman with a diagonal pass but the winger shot high and wide while at the other end Craig Reid shot weakly at Cook after Alan Julian’s long punt forward had evaded the Arsenal back line.
Boro’s best chances continued to fall to Reid but the striker headed Phil Edwards’ cross over the bar and was thwarted by Cook as he tired to round the stopper from Scott Laird’s pass.
The first half was notable for a running spat between Bostwick and Arsenal’s petulant No.10 Chuks Aneke. The pair clashed in midfield after a robust tackle from Bostwick while Aneke was also guilty of aiming a boot at Edwards.
Bostwick and Aneke’s personal dual continued into the second half and when Lansbury picked out Aneke on the edge of the box to bend the only goal of the game into the top corner of Julian’s goal, the Arsenal man made sure Bostwick knew who it was who got the goal.
Boro responded well and Charles should have done better when he latched onto Ashton’s flick on only to screw his shot wide.
Shroot was then denied by Cook after Bostwick’s shot had been blocked and Myrie-Williams volleyed over the bar from Edwards’ hanging cross.
Boro’s last chance saw Beardsley connect with a corner only for Cook to save the day for the visitors once more to deny Boro a deserved draw. It was fitting that the final say went the way of Man of the Match Cook and if the young stopper continues to turn in performances like that on a regular basis Monsieur Wenger’s goalkeeping issues won’t be such a problem in years to come.
Boro: Julian; Henry (Ashton 18), Roberts �, Bostwick, Laird (Beardsley 64); Wilson, Edwards, Long (Shroot 46), Ricketts (Myrie-Williams 46); Reid (Madjo 64), Charles.
Subs not used: Oldfield (GK), Davis, May, Thalassitis.
Arsenal: Cook; Yennaris, Brislen-Hall, Gallindo (Angha 74), Hajrovic, Boateng, Lansbury � (Ansah 63), Ozyakup, Watt, Aneke (Meade 72), Freeman.
Ref: Darren Deadman.