Arsenal Under-18s halted a run of three successive defeats with a hard-fought draw at home to Norwich on Saturday.
The hosts will perhaps feel slightly aggrieved not to have taken more from a game in which they created the better opportunities, but in truth, a draw was the fairest result.
Tarum Dawkins struck the woodwork early on before Jordan Brown came close to stealing the points at the death.
But a clean sheet and defensive performance that was much improved from that in last week’s 6-1 defeat against Aston Villa will have undoubtedly pleased youth coach Carl Laraman.
There were three changes to the side that had been comprehensively beaten here last weekend.
Josh Vickers returned from injury to reclaim his place in goal, while there were also starts for George Dobson and Brandon Ormonde-Ottewill, who captained the side.
Arsenal did not start the game like a side coming off the back of three successive defeats. They moved the ball confidently and intelligently, and afforded their opponents little time on the ball.
And their composed start was almost rewarded just seven minutes in.
Alex Iwobi picked the ball up 10 yards inside his own half. He looked up and threaded a perfectly-weighted pass through for Dawkins to latch on to. The winger outpaced the defence but crashed his left-footed effort against the crossbar.
Iwobi himself went close to breaking the deadlock just after the quarter-hour, flicking Jack Jebb’s corner just off target.
The hosts had perhaps edged proceedings, though were constantly denied an opportunity at goal due to an inability to find the final pass.
They could have taken the lead five minutes before the break. The effervescent Dawkins exchanged passes with Ainsley Maitland-Niles before hitting a placed shot that looked destined for the net until it took a nick off a yellow shirt and deflected agonisingly wide.
The first period, though low on clear-cut chances, had been full of tenacity and enterprise. Arsenal had defended with concentration and competence and, led by the industrious Glen Kamara, had worked doggedly to extinguish any potential Norwich attack.
The second half began with a similar trend to that set before the break. The hosts maneuvered the ball well, but were frustrated by their organised opponents, who defended well as a unit.
A series of corners were dealt with, before Iwobi’s pass lacked the precision to free Austin Lipman.
At the other end, the inexperienced central-defensive partnership of Stefan O’Connor and George Dobson had shackled the threat of physical lone striker Carlton Morris.
Norwich did come close to taking the lead with just over 15 minutes to play.
The otherwise impressive Tafari Moore was caught in possession inside his own half. With yellow shirts swarming on the hosts’ penalty area, Ormonde-Ottewill showed commendable composure to time his tackle on Nathan Quirk to perfection before clearing the danger.
Undeterred, Arsenal stepped up a gear in the last 15 minutes as they hunted a winner. Dawkins shot straight at Remi Matthews before Jebb curled a free kick over.
They were presented with a glorious chance to take all three points but, after being picked out by Iwobi, substitute Brown could only fire narrowly off target from inside the area.
- Ormonde-Ottewill (C)
- Iwobi Yellow Card
- Maitland-Niles 56
- Lipman 85 Yellow Card
- Hinds 56
- Brown 85
- Remi Matthews
- Kevin Lokko
- Nathan Quirk 74
- Ben Wyatt
- Henry Randall Yellow Card
- Cameron McGeehan (C)
- Harrison Heath 60
- Cameron King
- Sam Gainford 66
- Rod Young
- Carlton Morris
- Aston Oxborough
- Cameron Norman 60
- Harvey Hodd
- Dominic St Louis 66
- Rian Carroll 74