Premier League 2
Everton 4 (Donkor 49, Evans 73, 83, Henen 90) Arsenal 2 (McGuane 10, 77 (pen)
Marcus McGuane scored his first goals for Arsenal U23s but it wasn’t enough to prevent a much changed side from losing 4-2 away to Everton tonight in a dramatic encounter.
Arsenal, who were without many regulars, finished the game with ten men following the dismissal of debutant Charlie Gilmour for two bookable offences.
A serious injury to Everton’s Gethin Jones, who appeared to suffer a broken leg, meant that there were nine minutes of stoppage time at the end of the second half, with the hosts finding the net in the closing stages to cap off their victory.
McGuane and Jordi Osei-Tutu were the only Arsenal players to retain their places in the starting line-up from the previous game against Leicester City.
Arsenal were without Julio Pleguezuelo and Jeff Reine-Adelaide through injury. Meanwhile, with Thursday’s Europa League encounter against BATE Borisov in mind, Chuba Akpom, Matt Macey, Reiss Nelson, Eddie Nketiah, Joe Willock and Josh Dasilva were all rested.
Gilmour and Zech Medley came in for their U23 debuts, while Tafari Moore and Aaron Eyoma, who both had loan spells last season, featured for the first time this campaign.
There were also starts for Ryan Huddart, Tolaji Bola, Joseph Olowu, Vlad Dragomir and Emile Smith Rowe.
On the bench U18 players Folarin Balogun, Josh Benson, James Olayinka and Tobi Omole were all called up for the first time.
Subs: Balogun (for Moore, 88), Benson (for McGuane, 92). Not used: Virginia, Olayinka, Omole.
Despite fielding an unfamiliar line-up, Arsenal started impressively and took the lead in the tenth minute when McGuane finished well following good work from Eyoma.
Everton then sprung into life, with Harry Charsley’s effort striking the side-netting before Arsenal goalkeeper Ryan Huddart did well to thwart Dennis Adeniran’s effort.
Gilmour and Vlad Dragomir had attempts for Arsenal and, although Everton threatened at the other end, the young Gunners went into the break with their lead intact.
In the second-half, though, Everton started to seize control of proceedings and they equalised just four minutes after the restart courtesy of substitute Anton Donkor, whose effort got the better of Huddart.
The injury to Jones caused a lengthy delay but once play resumed Everton continued to dominate, with Luke Garbutt’s corner deflecting in off Olowu, although Everton’s Anthony Evans may well claim the goal.
Everton’s lead didn’t last long as Dragomir was fouled by Donkor in the box and McGuane, seizing responsibility, equalised from the penalty spot.
There were further twists and turns to come, however, with Everton making it 3-2 when Evans scored following an impressive run.
Arsenal were reduced to ten men when Gilmour was sent off, although on a more positive note Balogun and Benson were brought on for their U23 debuts in the closing stages.
There was still time, though, for Everton to get another goal, with Henen adding further gloss to the scoreline for the Toffees.
Overall, the result may have been disappointing but this was certainly a rich learning curve for Arsenal’s inexperienced side, with four debuts being made.