By Giuseppe Muro
Arsenal Reserves suffered their first defeat of the season as they went down 2-0 against Aston Villa at London Colney on Tuesday afternoon.
On a disappointing day for Neil Banfield and his team two first-half headers from Nathan Delfouneso and Samir Carruthers gave an impressive Villa side victory.
Delfouneso glanced home after 28 minutes before Carruthers doubled the lead on the stroke of half time and there was no way back for a Gunners side that featured a number of Academy players.
Scholar Sead Hajrovic partnered captain Ignasi Miquel at centre back for his first appearance at Reserve level and Thomas Cruise returned at left back after six weeks on the sidelines.
With talismanic striker Jay Emmanuel-Thomas as well as midfielders Craig Eastmond and Henri Lansbury all travelling to Donetsk with Arsène Wenger’s first team and Gavin Hoyte beginning his loan at Lincoln City, there were five changes from the side that had beaten West Ham so convincingly last time out.
It took Arsenal a while to settle on a blustery day in Hertfordshire and they lacked cohesion in the opening stages as a Villa side led by the instrumental Marc Albrighton started on the front foot.
Only 18 minutes had passed by the time Shane Lowry had flashed a volley agonisingly across goal and Delfouneso headed into the side-netting from barely a yard.
The warning signs were there and just short of the half-hour mark the away side got a deserved breakthrough.
Carruthers crossed from the left and when he picked out Delfouneso eight yards from goal the striker glanced into the bottom corner. There was nothing James Shea could do as the header skidded past the goalkeeper’s outstretched left hand.
Albrighton was a constant thorn in the Arsenal side, constantly running at defenders and crossing into dangerous positions as he showed why he has been a Premier League regular this season.
One of those centres resulted in Villa doubling their lead in first-half injury time.
The midfielder received the ball on the right before creating the space to brilliantly find Carruthers eight yards out. He guided his header to the left of Shea and into the net, and Arsenal were two down.
The Gunners improved in the second half and through Chuks Aneke and Conor Henderson they twice came close to pulling a goal back.
First Aneke linked up well with Sunu before testing Guzan with a long-range curler and then Henderson drilled a low shot at the goalkeeper from a tight angle.
But the Gunners just could not find a way through.
They were denied time and space by a well-organised Villa midfield and on the occasions they did get into the final third they came up against a water-tight defensive quartet.
Substitute Roarie Deacon prevented his side from going further behind in the closing stages when cleared off the line from Chris Herd as Arsenal surrendered their unbeaten start.
- Hajrovic 65
- Ozyakup 58
- Henderson 76
- Deacon 58
- Boateng 65
- Angha 76
Aston Villa Res
- Delfouneso Goal!
- Carruthers Goal!