By Nik Brumsack at Underhill
A late equaliser from Jacob Murphy ruined Arsenal Under-21s' 100 per cent start to the season, as Norwich grabbed a point at Underhill on Monday night.
Murphy struck just six minutes from time after Sanchez Watt had given Arsenal the lead in the first half.
In fairness, a draw was probably the right result in a game of few clear-cut chances.
Terry Burton made five changes to the side that had comfortably defeated Everton 3-0 a fortnight ago.
With James Shea being called up to the first team for their trip to Montpellier, there was a start for Damian Martinez in goal.
French international Sebastien Squillaci made his first appearance of the season in central defence, where he was partnered by captain Ignasi Miquel.
Chuba Akpom and Conor Henderson were back in the side after missing the win over Everton due to international commitments. Elsewhere Kristoffer Olsson was also included.
Norwich gave starts to experienced quartet Mark Bunn, Michael Turner, Chris Martin and Norwegian international Alexander Tettey, who was signed from Rennes this summer.
Arsenal started purposefully, and had a great chance to open the scoring in the second minute.
Watt raced down the left, before rounding the goalkeeper and unselfishly squaring the ball to Akpom, who somehow poked his effort wide from six yards out.
Jacob and twin brother Josh Murphy looked the visitors’ most dangerous threats, and after a sublime bit of skill from the former had taken him clear of both Jernade Meade and Henderson, his low shot went narrowly wide of Martinez’s right-hand post.
But in truth, those chances apart, the first half hour had been relatively quiet, with both sides keen to retain possession.
Arsenal had perhaps shaded the first 30 minutes, though all their neat passing had brought little in the way of penetration.
It came as a surprise, then, that the home side took the lead just before the half-hour mark.
Eastmond flicked Henderson’s deep corner across goal to Watt who tapped home from four yards.
That goal kicked Norwich, and the Murphy twins in particular, into action - with both going close to levelling in the space of a minute.
First, Josh slid his effort just wide, after Jacob’s cross had set him up. Then Jacob’s strike from 25 yards arrowed just over.
Burton’s side weathered that storm, and took their lead into the break.
Norwich looked reinvigorated at the start of the second half, forcing a set of corners, but Arsenal’s defence, flanked by the experienced Squillaci, looked relatively untroubled.
Both sides were struggling to create any sort of chance, though Arsenal came close to doubling their lead when Meade’s cross was inches too high for the arriving Akpom.
Meade, who had been so dangerous against Everton last time out, was beginning to influence the game, sending in a series of crosses which just failed to find an Arsenal player.
Norwich made three changes in a bid to change the pattern of play, but were initially left frustrated by Arsenal’s defence.
Jacob Murphy did force a chance with 10 minutes to go though after jinking past Meade, but his effort was blocked by Squillaci.
Murphy was not to be denied though, and grabbed the equaliser after 84 minutes.
Miquel’s clearance hit Hall-Johnson and rebounded fortuitously into Murphy’s path. He charged through on goal before opening his body up and guiding a right-footed effort beyond Martinez and into the net to seal a point for the Canaries.
- Meade Yellow Card
- Miquel Yellow Card
- Watt Goal!
- Murphy 60
- Clunan 70
- Murphy Goal!
- Loza 80
- Durojaiye 70
- King 80
- Hall-Johnson 60