By Nik Brumsack at London Colney
Arsenal’s Under-18s were denied their fourth consecutive win by a stubborn West Bromwich Albion outfit on Friday afternoon.
Pat Holland’s team created plenty of chances to win the game but could not convert any - thanks in part to some excellent saves from Baggies goalkeeper Shane Lewis.
And Arsenal would also be grateful to their goalkeeper, with Reice Charles-Cook somehow managing to turn Kyle Howkins’ first-half header onto the crossbar as the points were shared.
Boss Holland had vowed to give those not involved last time a chance, and he kept his word, with Leander Siemann, Arinse Uade, Thomas Dallison and Charles-Cook all returning to the team.
Isaac Hayden was the defensive screen in a midfield also containing Jack Jebb and Jon Toral, while Austin Lipman once again led the line up front.
The Under-18s had scored early on in both their previous games, and looked intent on doing the same here.
There would, however, be no early goal this time out, despite the best efforts of Austin Lipman who, after meeting Brandon Ormonde-Ottewill’s cross, saw his effort bundled off the line after a quarter of an hour.
Arsenal were well on top, and came close to breaking the deadlock when Toral combined with Jebb before flashing an effort just wide.
Midway through the first half Lipman found himself clean through on goal, but was denied by Lewis, who spread himself well to smother the shot.
After being largely dominated in the opening periods, the visitors nearly took the lead against the run of play. After a corner had been floated in, Howkins got up to head goalwards. The ball looked destined for the net until Charles-Cook acrobatically turned it onto the crossbar.
Not to be outdone, Lewis then made an equally good stop on the stroke of half time.
After Jebb had swung a corner into the box, Hayden’s header was well parried away by the West Brom No 1 and the teams went into the break goalless.
Both sides traded chances at the beginning of the second half. First Iwobi went close with an overhead kick, before Alex Jones fizzed a shot just past Charles-Cook’s post at the other end.
Arsenal had been incisive in their passing in the first half, but were struggling to assert such a hold in the second period.
Anthony Jeffrey was introduced for Arinse Uade after 65 minutes, and immediately livened up proceedings.
First, he cut in from the left before shooting just off target. Then, just a minute later, Jeffrey went clean through before being denied by a fine last-ditch challenge.
West Brom had defended stoutly, but were close to conceding just five minutes from time when, after picking the ball up just outside the area, Toral curled a left-footed effort just off target.
And Arsenal nearly won it at the death when, after a loose ball fell to him in the box, Lipman’s powerful drive was again kept out by the impressive Lewis.
- Uade 65
- Hayden Yellow Card
- Iwobi 77
- Kamara 77
- Jeffrey 65
West Brom U18
- Barrow 60
- Ambalu 87
- Wedderburn 60
- Oldnall 87