Bristol Rovers 0 Arsenal XI 1 (Mavididi)
Stephy Mavididi scored the only goal as a new-look Arsenal U21 team continued their pre-season preparations with a 1-0 victory away to a strong Bristol Rovers side this afternoon.
This fixture was arranged two years ago as part of the deal which brought goalkeeper Matt Macey to North London, and the 20-year-old, who was named on the bench for the Arsenal first-team last season, had to make several good stops to keep his former side at bay.
The headline team news saw summer arrival Jeff Reine-Adelaide, a late withdrawal from the first-team’s Asia trip, make his debut for the club on the right flank. The majority of the starting players were second years, with a smidgeon of experience provided by the inclusions of Glen Kamara and Julio Pleguezuelo.
Two of the new scholars, Vlad Dragomir and Kostas Pileas, were named amongst the substitutes, whilst Harry Donovan also received a call-up.
There were some notable omissions from the Arsenal squad. Wellington and Isaac Hayden remained at London Colney for fitness training, whilst Tafari Moore, Stefan O’Connor and Chiori Johnson also missed out. George Dobson, meanwhile, remains an Arsenal player for now with a move elsewhere having so far failed to materialise.
Eyoma-Da Graca-Pleguezuelo-M. Bola
Subs: Iliev, Mourgos, Pileas, Donovan, Chatzitheodoridis, Dragomir.
Rovers, who earned promotion to League Two for the forthcoming campaign, created the first chance of note, with Danny Greenslade shooting over, but Arsenal soon started to assert themselves on proceedings.
They were rewarded with a goal when the eager Mavididi, who recently signed his first professional contract, capitalised on a defensive mix-up and slotted the ball beyond the reach of goalkeeper Steve Mildenhall.
Arsenal, who drew 1-1 with Bournemouth in their opening friendly last week, came close to doubling their advantage shortly afterwards, but Bristol Rovers started to create chances of their own, with Ellis Harrison shooting wide before Macey had to be alert to deny Chris Lines.
Billy Bodin and Chris Gosling also failed to find the net when well placed, meaning that Arsenal went into the break in the ascendancy.
Macey was called into action again almost immediately after the restart as he made a good save to deny Ollie Clarke. Matty Taylor, meanwhile, was becoming increasingly influential for the hosts, but Arsenal managed to withstand the pressure.
There was a nice moment for Macey midway through the second-half as he received a standing ovation from the Bristol Rovers supporters when he was replaced by Deyan Iliev.
Iliev himself had to make a smart stop shortly after his introduction before at the other end Mavididi was unable to double both his and Arsenal’s tallies.
His first-half goal was sufficient, though, for the U21s to secure their first victory of pre-season.
Arsenal face Boreham Wood in their next friendly on Friday, after which they will travel to South Africa to participate in a tournament.
Meanwhile, Chuba Akpom was introduced as a late substitute as the Arsenal first-team beat Everton 3-1 in Sinagpore to win the Barclays Asia Trophy. Akpom, who scored a hat-trick against a Singapore Select XI in midweek, had a shot saved by Joel.
Alex Iwobi was an un-used substitute, whilst the other youngsters- Gedion Zelalem, Dan Crowley, Jon Toral and Chris Willock- were left out of the squad, but all received winners’ medals.