Premier League 2
Everton 1 Arsenal 0
A much-changed Arsenal U23 side suffered late agony away to league leaders Everton this evening, with substitute Nathan Broadhead hitting a late winner for the hosts.
Arsenal were thrashed 5-0 when these sides met earlier in the campaign, but Steve Gatting’s side managed to give a much better account of themselves on this occasion.
They were unable to hold on, however, and in truth Everton merited their victory having tested Arsenal goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez on several occasions.
With many players having left the club on loan in the closing stages of the transfer window, Gatting called upon several members of the U18 side for this fixture, with Joseph Olowu, Josh Dasilva, Donyell Malen and Vlad Dragomir all starting.
Two members of the first-team squad, Martinez and Carl Jenkinson, were also involved, while Cohen Bramall continued at left-back and there was a rare start for Savvas Mourgos. Eddie Nketiah, however, missed out through injury.
Subs: Fortune (for Malen, 83). Not used: Virginia, Johnson, T. Bola, McGuane.
Reiss Nelson had the first opportunity of the game, with the England youth international, deployed in central midfield, shooting over.
At the other end Martinez then had to react quickly to keep out Kieran Dowell’s effort, with Arsenal eventually managing to scramble away the danger.
Everton were the dominant side for much of the opening period and Martinez was on hand to prevent Courtney Duffus from getting a shot away when well placed.
Henry Charlsley, who was impressive in midfield for Everton, then shot over but Arsenal managed to mount a response, with Nelson seeing his attempt saved.
The final opportunity of the half fell to Everton, with defender Matthew Foulds embarking upon a mazy run downfield only to see his effort repelled by Martinez.
Arsenal started the second period brightly, with Vlad Dragomir’s fierce shot from distance saved by Everton goalkeeper Mateusz Hewelt.
However, it was Arsenal’s goalkeeper, Martinez, who continued to shine, with the Argentine denying Anton Donkor.
Duffus later squandered an inviting chance to score the winner for Everton as the clock ticked down and it appeared as if Arsenal were going to hold on.
Yassin Fortune, who scored for the U18s against Fulham on Saturday, entered the fray late on as he made his first appearance for the U23s this season.
Arsenal’s hopes of securing a point were dashed in the closing stages, however, with substitute Broadhead finding the net for Everton after he was located by Dowell.