Arsenal U18s were held to a 1-1 draw by their Fulham counterparts on Saturday in a closely-fought encounter at London Colney.
Both goals came in the closing stages, with Josh DaSilva scoring a superb free-kick for Arsenal only for the visitors to equalise from the penalty spot after a clumsy foul by Zech Medley.
Medley, a former Chelsea defender on trial with the Gunners, wasn’t the only player making his first appearance at this level for Arsenal this season, with schoolboy goalkeeper Daniel Barden also featuring.
Barden isn’t guaranteed a scholarship for next season, especially after the recent signing of Alex Crean, but the youngster did his chances of getting a deal no harm at all as he produced a superb performance that saw him make several spectacular saves.
At the other end Trae Coyle, another schoolboy, continued to impress and is already one of the standout players in this team despite the fact that he is playing with a lot of individuals who are older than him.
Emile Smith-Rowe also caught the eye, but Arsenal’s overall link-up play was a little too slow at times, with coach Kwame Ampadu bemoaning the fact that his side didn’t carve out chances with their usual regularity.
Arsenal were, as is often the case at this level, vulnerable defensively, with Medley and Jordi Osei-Tutu both struggling, but Barden often came to his side’s rescue.
There was some good news for Arsenal, with Yassin Fortune named on the bench for the first time this season after recovering from injury.
Arsenal’s next U18 game is away to Reading, but prior to that many of these players will be involved when the U19s take on Ludogorets Razgrad in the UEFA Youth League.
Arsenal: Barden; Osei-Tutu, Olowu, Medley, Pileas; McGuane, DaSilva; J. Willock, Coyle, Smith-Rowe; Malen. Subs: Keto, Ballard, Fortune, Burton, Tella.