U18 Premier League- Game 17
Reading 2 (Fosu, Stacey) Arsenal 2 (Jebb, Dawkins)
Arsenal U18s were held to an entertaining 2-2 draw by Reading this morning in their first league game of 2014, with Jack Jebb and Tarum Dawkins finding the net for Carl Laraman’s side.
Laraman made seven changes to the side that lost to Norwich City last time out, the most notable of which saw goalkeeper Deyan Iliev make his first appearance at this level this season. It was a rather experienced Arsenal line-up, with several second-years involved from the offset, although all of the outfield players on the bench were schoolboys.
subs: Bola, Willock, Dobson, Eyoma, Huddart.
Arsenal started brightly at Hogwood Park and nearly took the lead early on through Renny Smith, who was unfortunate to see his effort strike the crossbar.
Despite Arsenal’s dominance in the early stages Reading opened the scoring when Tariqe Fosu manoeuvred his way through the Arsenal defence before slotting the ball past Iliev.
Arsenal attempted to muster an instant response, with Reading goalkeeper Lewis Ward having to be alert to avert the danger on two occasions before Estonian youngster Bogdan Vastsuk came close to scoring at the other end.
In an end-to-end game that was full of chances, Dawkins then squandered an opportunity to equalise, but it mattered little as Jebb levelled the scores not long afterwards with an exemplary free-kick after Glen Kamara had been fouled.
Jebb almost scored again before the interval but was denied by a good stop from the alert Ward.
Reading would restore their lead just after the break, however, with Liam Kelly doing well to find Jack Stacey, who beat Iliev with ease.
An enthralling encounter then took another twist, with Dawkins levelling following a superb solo run and finish.
There was more drama to come as the game drew to a frenetic conclusion, with Reading forced to make a goal-line clearance before coming perilously close to snatching a late winner when Aaron Kuhl shot just wide from distance.
That was to be the final incident of note in an entertaining game, but, despite showing some positive signs, Laraman’s side are still without a league victory since August. They travel to face Everton next Saturday.