Match report: There is unlikely to be a better performance at London Road this season. Not from a team or an individual as an Arsenal side inspired by supremely gifted 16 year-old Daniel Crowley ran riot in the FA Youth Cup.
Arsenal scored six and would have had more but for fine goalkeeping from Luke O’Reilly and a tendancy to get caught offside.
It’s not that Posh were poor - they weren’t - but the Gunners were different class.
For 15 minutes it was end-to-end with Posh matching their illustrious opponents blow-for-blow.
Charlie Coulson’s second-minute surge created mild panic in the Arsenal penalty area and Robert Duggon fired a trademark bullet from 25 yards which flew inches over the crossbar.
But Arsenal, as you would expect, boasted 11 players who were comfortable on the ball and their superior class soon started to show with the quite brilliant Crowley running the show.
Crowley ran around like Jack Wilshere, but this youngster possessed an end product.
It was his clever pass that sent Ainsley Maitland-Niles through to claim the opening goal in the 28th minute and it was his chip that presented Chuba Akpom with a simple headed goal eight minutes later.
Crowley blotted his copybook with a blatant dive moments after the second goal (it earned him a warning rather than a yellow card sadly), but hopefully that sort of nonsense will be drummed out of him before he reaches the first-team.
Arsenal could have scored further goals in the first-half as their slick passing caused many problems, but Posh ‘keeper Luke O’Reilly made super saves to deny Alexander Iwobi and Brandon Ormonde-Ottewill.
But when Posh won the ball their passing was usually crisp and accurate without troubling the Arsenal defence unduly. Duggan and Coulson look lively prospects.
Any hopes of a second-half revival were dashed three minutes after the re-start when Akpom was sent clear to score his second and Arsenal’s third.
Akpom apparently joins League One leaders Brentford tomorrow (January 7) where he will learn a different style of football - he missed a glorious chance of a 15-minute hat-trick when shooting wide after sprinting clear again, but he staked a claim for the match-ball just after the hour mark when slamming home following another Crowley pass.
By now even the Posh fans in an excellent crowd of just under 2,000 were enjoying the Arsenal football.
They passed and moved superbly while revelling in the time and space offered by a tiring home side.
The goal Crowley deserved in the 65th minute, a curling 20-yarder, drew applause from the home fans. His second six minutes later after a superb link-up with Akpom was the result of awareness and ridiculously fast feet.
To their credit Posh kept going until the end (they didn’t concede in the final 20 minutes) and they were rewarded when Duggan finished well in the final minute.
Moments earlier Tom Conlon had forced a flying save from a 20-yard free kick.
Posh: Luke O’Reilly, Matt Carter, Liam Marshall, Tom Conlon, Joe Burgess, Tariq Moore-Azille, Charlie Coulson, Robert Duggan, Jonathan Edwards (sub Ty Phillips, 78 mins), Regan Carthey, Oliver Luto (sub Greg Stewart, 55 mins). Unused subs: Dion Henry, Jack Friend, Oliver Humphrey.
Arsenal: Joshua Vickers, Tafari Moore, Brandon Ormonde-Ottewill, Glen Kamara (sub Jack Jebb, 75 mins), Stefan O’Connor (sub Alred Mugabo, 81 mins), Leander Siemann, Ainsley Maitland-Niles (sub Austin Lipman, 68 mins), Gedion Zelalem, Chuba Akpom, Daniel Crowley, Alexander Iwobi. Unused subs: Ryan Huddart, Tarum Dawkins.
Goals; Arsenal - Maitland-Niles (28 mins), Akpom (36 mins, 48 mins & 61 mins), Crowley (65 mins & 71 mins).
Referee: A. Young