Wolves 2 Arsenal 2 (Iwobi, Crowley)
Arsenal U21s surrendered a two-goal lead to eventually draw 2-2 away to Wolverhampton Wanderers this evening. The young Gunners found the net through Alex Iwobi and Dan Crowley, but the hosts seized upon some hesitant defending to claim a point.
Coach Steve Gatting named a strong side that included Chuba Akpom, Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Gedion Zelalem, who were all on the bench for the first-team yesterday. Renny Smith made his first start at this level at left-back in the absence of Tyrell Robinson.
subs: Huddart, Dobson, Hinds, Willock, Mavididi.
Arsenal twice came close to taking the lead in the opening exchanges, with Iwobi and Semi Ajayi seeing efforts deflected wide, but Wolves gradually started to impose themselves on the game. The hosts almost scored courtesy of a free-kick from Liam McAlinden, with Bradley Reid then lashing an effort into the side netting after he got away from Smith.
Akpom, who has featured twice as a substitute for the first-team in the last few days, shot wide, but that was just a warning sign for Wolves as, not long afterwards, Iwobi turned home for his second goal of the season following a well-worked corner.
Arsenal’s lead was doubled before the break when Crowley found the net with an excellent free-kick from 25 yards out, but the advantage was quickly halved again when Declan Weeks pounced upon some unconvincing defending to make it 2-1.
Wolves carried the momentum that the goal brought into the second period, with Matt Macey forced to rush off his line to deny McAlinden, before Reid somehow failed to find the net when left unopposed in front of goal.
Reid then squandered another presentable opportunity, but Wolves eventually did manage to conjure an equaliser when Albert Torras scored from close range.
Akpom and Maitland-Niles tried their utmost to put Arsenal back in front, but both players failed to find the net when presented with the opportunity, but the young Gunners had to settle for a draw in the end.
In fact they were rather fortunate to come away with a point, with Macey doing well to deny former Barcelona youngster Jordi Ortega late on.
U21 centre-back Semi Ajayi has earned his first call-up to the senior Nigeria squad, however he won’t be able to face Ivory Coast and Mali because of his commitments with Arsenal.
In other news, two of the club’s first-year scholars have signed their first professional contracts with the club, with Chiori Johnson and Tyrell Robinson both putting pen to paper on new deals.
Right-back Johnson has broken into the U21 team this season and has also featured prominently in the UEFA Youth League. Robinson has also enjoyed an impressive start to the campaign. The youngster is nominally a winger, but has featured for the U21s at left-back and also trained with the first-team last month.
Kaylen Hinds and Chris Willock, who both turn 17 later this month, are likely to be the next youngsters to turn professional with the club.