Football / Coca-Cola Cup: Wright shows Arsenal's cutting edge

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The Independent Online
Hartlepool United. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .0

Arsenal. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5

THIS match was billed by the local press as Dad's Army vs the Gunners which, in effect, was how it turned out with a well drilled Arsenal routing the Third Division veterans in the Coca-Cola Cup second round, first leg last night.

There was an early scare for Hartlepool when a header from Phil Gilchrist back to his keeper was intercepted by Alan Smith, but Brian Horne quickly closed in on Smith to snatch the ball, the first of several bold interceptions the Hartlepool keeper had to make.

Over half an hour had passed before Hartlepool threatened the Arsenal goal. Keith Houchen opened up the defence with an excellent ball to Steve Halliday, but he went wide and cut his shot harmlessly back across the area.

It was a miss that Hartlepool quickly regretted, for Arsenal moved upfield, forced a corner, and from Merson's deep cross Tony Adams was above everyone at the far post to head the ball down and into the net.

In the 37th minute Arsenal went two up. Ian Wright found space down the left before striking a low cross that Horne, previously impeccable, fumbled. Smith moved in quickly for the kill and Hartlepool were really up against it.

Arsenal came out for the second half with Eddie McGoldrick replacing Smith. The substitute's arrival allowed Paul Merson to play through the middle alongside Wright, who scored Arsenal's third goal after 57 minutes, crisply driving the ball home from just inside the area after Paul Davis had threaded the ball through the home defence.

Merson added the fourth after 75 minutes, nodding home a left-wing corner, and Wright wrapped things up 10 minutes later after a superb solo run.

Hartlepool United (4-4-2): Horne; Burgess, Gilchrist, McGuckin, Walsh; Oliver (Ingram, 85), Tait, Lynch (Hyson, 59), Halliday; Thompson, Houchen. Substitute not used: Jones (gk).

Arsenal (4-3-3): Seaman; Dixon, Linighan, Adams, Keown; Selley, Davis, Parlour; Wright, Smith (McGoldrick, h/t), Merson. Substitutes not used: Hillier, Bartram (gk).

Referee: D Allison (Lancaster).

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