Premier League 2
Arsenal 1 (Smith Rowe 10) Everton 0
Emile Smith Rowe scored the only goal as an Arsenal U23 side that finished the game with ten men secured a 1-0 victory over Everton at Emirates Stadium.
Smith Rowe, who was one of five first-team players involved, opened the scoring with just nine minutes gone but Arsenal were reduced to ten men in the second half when Folarin Balogun was dismissed.
Arsenal managed to hold on, however, and finally appear to be heading in the right direction following two successive victories.
Steve Bould was able to call upon a host of first-team players, with Smith Rowe beign joined in the starting lineup by Matt Macey, Calum Chambers, William Saliba and Sokratis, the latter making his first appearance at any level this season.
Miguel Azeez and Arthur Okonkwo returned to the squad and were named amongst the substitutes along with Omari Hutchinson, who was called up at this level for the first time.
There were still a considerable amount of absentees, with Salah Eddine, Ryan Alebiosu, Jordan McEneff and George Lewis all out injured, while Joseph Olowu also wasn’t involved.
Arsenal started well and took the lead through Smith Rowe, who made his debut at this level against Everton four years ago.
Smith Rowe applied the finishing touch to a slick move that also involved Ben Cottrell.
Balogun and fellow forward Nikolaj Moller showed further signs of combining effectively and in a way were reminiscent of the performances produced by Nicklas Bendtner and Arturo Lupoli, who used to work so well together at this level.
Arsenal sought to add to their lead before the break, with Balogun attempting to find Catalin Cirjan, but the ball couldn’t quite find its way to the Romanian youngster.
Smith Rowe was taken off at half time, with Miguel Azeez replacing him.
Azeez was heavily involved and sent an effort wide just before the hour mark.
Prior to that Macey, who was making his 69th appearance at this level, had to react well to clear the danger when Joseph Anderson looked to play in Ellis Simms.
Matters then took a turn for the worse for Arsenal as Balogun was sent off for a second bookable offence. Firstly the 19-year-old had punched the ball away in frustration and he was then penalised for diving.
Brooke Norton-Cuffy entered the fray in place of Sokratis, who played 71 minutes, and Jonathan Dinzeyi later came on for Chambers, who completed 76 minutes as he continued his return to full fitness.
Despite their numerical disadvantage Arsenal managed to hold on for the victory.
Next up for Bould’s team is another home game, this time at Meadow Park against Derby County.
Arsenal: Macey; Chambers (Dinzeyi, 76), Sokratis (Norton-Cuffy, 71), Saliba, Lopez; Cirjan, Akinola, Cottrell; Smith Rowe (Azeez, 46); Moller, Balogun.
Subs not used: Okonkwo, Hutchinson.