By Isaac Moore at the County Ground
Arsenal Under-21s were condemned to their second defeat in a row after they were beaten 2-1 by Bolton on Monday night.
Thomas Eisfled had given the Gunners the lead on the hour with a close-range header but goals from Jack Lester and Andy Kellett sealed a dramatic turnaround for the hosts.
Despite the scoreline, Arsenal were dominant for long periods of the game but a mixture of lacklustre finishing and sloppy defending meant the Gunners left the County Ground with nothing.
SETTING THE SCENE
Steve Gatting made two changes from the team that lost at White Hart Lane. Zak Ansah replaced Austin Lipman to earn his first start of the season while Hector Bellerin came in for Alex Iwobi with Isaac Hayden moving into midfield.
This was the first of two trips to the North West in the space of three days with a trip to Southport to play Everton taking place on Thursday. Arsenal began the night just a point behind Bolton and two behind Everton so this week presented Gatting's men with an opportunity to climb the table.
It was an open start at the County Ground. A loose throw out from Matt Macey was pounced on by Lester and he poked wide when he should have hit the target.
On 14 minutes, Jon Toral slipped in Ansah who swivelled past his marker and shot over. Hayden fizzed a drive over seconds later.
Tom Walker sent a low effort narrowly wide of Macey's goal in the 23rd minute as both sides took turns to venture into their opponents final third.
Bellerin and Gedion Zelalem played a clever one-two on the right edge of the box but the full-back's cross just evaded the onrushing Ansah.
Arsenal were finding joy down the right flank and in the 35th minute, Bellerin got to the byline again and touched back for Eisfeld whose shot was blocked by Robert Holding.
The Gunners' best chance came in the final minute of the half when Bellerin was again released down the right and his cut-back found fellow Spaniard Toral whose side-footed effort had to be pushed over by Arran Lee-Barrett.
Arsenal began the second half as they ended the first - on the front foot. In the 47th minute it was Hayden's turn to find space on the right and his cross found Ansah who volleyed wide under pressure from two Bolton defenders.
Brandon Ormonde-Ottewill had the visitors' next opportunity when he cut inside from the left and shot straight at Lee-Barett.
The Gunners' dominance finally just after the hour mark. Toral drifted in from the right and scuffed a shot that rebounded away but Arsenal recycled possession and Bellerin's cross was met by a bullet header from Eisfeld.
Bolton's leveller came totally against the run of play. Arsenal were caught high up field which allowed Georg Iliev to play through Zach Clough. He unselfishly found Lester who prodded into an empty net.
Arsenal continued to push forward in search of a winner but spurned a number of promising situations when they got behind the Bolton defence.
And with five minutes remaining, they were punished. Kellett picked the ball up from the left and was allowed the freedom to roam into the Arsenal box and the left-back made no mistake with his finish, drilling past Macey and into the far corner.
Bolton should have scored a third with two minutes to go when Clough was played through on goal but he shot straight at Macey.
- Ansah 77
- Zelalem 81
- Eisfeld Goal!
- Crowley 81
- Lipman 77
- Kellett Goal!
- Lester Goal!
- Tom Walker 83
- James Ball
- Jamie Thomas
- Bastos 83