The Arsenal u18s came back from a poor start to beat Reading on Saturday, with Omari Hutchinson and Joel Ideho playing key roles.

Joel Ideho with Arsenal (Photo via Ideho on Instagram)
Joel Ideho with Arsenal (Photo via Ideho on Instagram)

Due to an u23 match on the same day and multiple international call-ups, Arsenal named a much-changed squad to face Reading on Saturday.

There were six schoolboys involved, with Reuell Walters, Josh Robinson, and Bradley Ibrahim starting, and Amani Richards, Tino Quamina, and Amario Cozier-Duberry on the bench.

The three starters and Cozier-Duberry (who came on as a substitute) were all making their first u18 appearances.

Perhaps as a result of that inexperience, Arsenal were left shell-shocked conceding two goals in the first five minutes of the game. A Taylor Foran own goal and a second from Harvey Maunder immediately gave them a mountain to climb.

Omari Hutchinson halved the deficit in the 14th minute, pulling one back after an assist from Joel Ideho. Ideho then scored one of his own to make it 2-2 on the half-hour mark.

Just when it looked like Arsenal might make it to half-time on level terms, Michael Stickland put Reading 3-2 up.

The scoreline was a little harsh on the Gunners, who had conceded three goals from just four shots in the first half. But they made their dominance of the chances count after the break, with Henry Jeffcott equalising for 3-3.

Jeffcott was assisted by debutant Cozier-Duberry, who had only come off the bench three minutes earlier.

It was one of the more experienced members of the group who then gave Arsenal the lead, with Omari Hutchinson converting from the penalty spot. Hutchinson has been in fantastic form this season, and looks about ready for the step up to the u23s.

Ideho will also be pleased with his contributions, though. The summer signing only scored his first Arsenal goal in his previous start against Norwich City, so it’s good to see him now carrying that form into the next game – just as he said he’d try to do.

Arsenal remain in 7th in the u18 Premier League South despite the win, but they’re not four points behind Chelsea and have two games in hand. Next up, they face Fulham u18s on Friday, April 9th at 12:00 BST.

Lineup: Ejeheri, Walters, Francis, Foran, Jeffcott, Robinson, Ibrahim, Hutchinson, Ideho, Sagoe Jr, Edwards

Subs: Cozier-Duberry (for Sagoe Jr, 55)

Unused subs: Mitchell, Quamina, Richards