Arsenal’s u21s maintained their successful start to the new Premier League campaign, with a slender 2-1 victory in a tricky clash away at St. James’ Park.
After their 5-0 thrashing of West Ham last time out, Arsenal were hoping for another impressive performance in their first away trip of the campaign. The Magpies knew they needed a fast start to try and frustrate their visitors and they did just that, with new youth signing Ivan Toney going close early on. However, the 19-year-old forward’s effort on-goal was thwarted by Ryan Huddart.
Kaylen Hinds, who’d scored three goals in his previous two fixtures, watched on with annoyance as his header flashed wide of the post after 15 minutes. Toney, Newcastle’s bright spark throughout, was unlucky not to break the deadlock after latching onto a teasing delivery by Kevin Mbabu on the right-flank. His header was wide, with Huddart being kept busy in the early exchanges.
Then, Steve Gatting’s youngsters should have seen themselves ahead. Jeff Reine-Adelaide’s inviting ball into the box was perfectly-weighted for Stephy Mavididi at the far post, but the teenager’s effort crashed off the post with Newcastle goalkeeper Karl Darlow watching on thankful that the scores were still level.
He then made an important stop to deny Hinds’ powerful long-range effort from rifling into the top corner, parrying over the crossbar in the process. Just before half-time, Newcastle came close once again. Toney was, unsurprisingly, at the heart of things going forward, and his strike crashed off the woodwork before Arsenal dealt with the loose ball and kept the scoreline level at the interval.
Neither side made changes until late on in the match, with the scoreline still goalless up until the last fifteen minutes. Callum Williams made a superbly-timed tackle to dispossess Hinds who was in a goal-scoring opportunity, before he was then given his marching orders by referee Paul Newhouse for a deliberate trip to halt the run of Mavididi on the edge of the area.
Reine-Adelaide was unlucky not to score, in an ever-improving display by the mature youngster, but Darlow was equal to his deflected strike as well as a one-on-one from close range. It seemed as though, for all of Arsenal’s chances and domination, they’d travel back to north London with a point.
However, that was not the case.
Darlow, who’d made a plethora of important stops to keep his side in with a chance, couldn’t deal with Alex Iwobi’s effort from close range. Then, with time running out, the Gunners doubled their lead through Mavididi, for his fourth of the campaign in the 88th minute.
Alex Gilliead scored a late consolation for the hosts, giving their supporters something to celebrate at least for all of Toney’s impressive work in the Arsenal half – squeezing a low strike beyond Huddart, who would be understandably frustrated that he couldn’t keep a clean sheet after a solid display for himself personally.
But, a win is a win and no-one will be complaining.
In a tough trip away from home, the Gunners seal their fourth consecutive win, which will boost their confidence levels ahead of another tricky challenge in Zagreb against Dinamo’s youngsters next Wednesday afternoon as this year’s UEFA Youth League gets underway.