U18 Premier League- Game 6
Middlesbrough 3 Arsenal 2 (Raage, Hinds)
With first-year scholars such as Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Tafari Moore and Stefan O’Connor now part of the U21 set-up at the club despite having only just started their scholarships, Carl Laraman was again forced to call upon several schoolboys for Saturday’s trip to face Middlesbrough.
Arsenal’s inexperience could partly explain their last-gasp defeat, but, looking at the wider picture, Laraman’s side have won just one game from their first six fixtures so far this season, conceding eleven goals in the process.
subs: Dawkins, Thorbourne, Olomola. Not used: Iliev.
They squandered several presentable opportunities on this occasion, but did take the lead when Jamaal Raage latched onto Kaylen Hinds’ pass before finding the net to score his first goal for the club.
Middlesbrough were back on level terms soon enough, however, with a swift counter-attack culminating in a tap-in for the well-placed Tom McAloon.
As was the case during last week’s draw with Stoke, much of Arsenal’s good attacking play stemmed from Hinds, who made his UEFA Youth League debut against Marseille last week. The 15 year old found Austin Lipman in a good position, but the striker’s effort was deflected over the crossbar.
Raage then returned the favour for Hinds, with the Swedish winger delivering an accurate corner, which Hinds headed home emphatically to restore Arsenal’s lead.
It was a lead that would only last for four minutes, though, as the dangerous McAloon found Callum Cooke, whose effort got the better of Huddart. Middlesbrough continued to exert pressure on the Arsenal defence after the interval, with Jonathan Coleby striking the crossbar with a header from a corner before Huddart had to make an excellent save to deny Junior Mondal from close range.
Arsenal had chances of their own to win it, with Chris Willock doing well to cut the ball back for fellow schoolboy George Dobson, who lost his footing at the crucial moment, before substitute Olufela Olomola shot over.
That paved the way for Middlesbrough to mount one final attack of their own, and they duly obliged, with substitute Jordan Jowers scoring a dramatic winner in stoppage time.
Arsenal host Bolton Wanderers at London Colney next week as they look to return to winning ways.