Kaylen Hinds scored as an Arsenal XI drew 1-1 away to Hitchin Town tonight in a friendly to mark the installation of new floodlights at the Hertfordshire-based side’s ground.
Arsenal took the lead through Hinds, but Hitchin, of the Southern Football League Premier Division, battled bravely all evening and eventually got their reward as they equalised with a late goal from Callum Riley.
With a host of players on international duty, Arsenal named a rather inexperienced side consisting mostly of members of the U18 squad. First-year scholar Dominic Thompson made his first start of the season on the left wing, while schoolboy Trae Coyle was deployed up front.
There were a few slightly older players involved, with Aaron Eyoma, Kaylen Hinds and Savvas Mourgos starting, while 21-year-old trialist goalkeeper Dan Lincoln was called upon.
Subs: Barden, Olowu, DaSilva, Smith-Rowe, Osei-Tutu, J. Willock, Smith.
Arsenal legend Pat Rice was present to officially switch on the floodlights, and the game then got underway, with Hitchin flooding forwards.
The young Gunners were able to withstand that early pressure and soon set about initiating some attacks of their own, with Thompson, who was evidently eager to make an impact, delivering some dangerous crosses into the penalty area that Hitchin had to scramble clear.
The hosts were regularly testing Lincoln in the Arsenal goal, but the shot-stopper remained calm under pressure as he claimed the ball with authority.
Arsenal had a chance to take the lead when Tobi Omole galloped forward from left-back and crossed for Mourgos, but the midfielder’s effort lacked conviction.
Hitchin then came close to finding the net but the half ended with the game still goalless.
Arsenal started to assert themselves more in the second period, with Nathan Tella’s effort going just wide and shortly afterwards the deadlock was finally broken when Hinds finished well.
Emile Smith-Rowe was then introduced, with the winger producing a dangerous cross which, frustratingly, didn’t have a recipient.
Hitchin had several further attempts and then, after Mourgos had spurned another opportunity for Arsenal, the hosts eventually equalised, with Riley’s effort finding the net.