By Isaac Moore at Meadow Park
An Arsenal XI twice came from behind to claim a 2-2 draw at Boreham Wood on Friday night.
Former Gunner Ian Allinson's side took an early lead through a Lee Angol free-kick but the young Gunners found a swift response when Daniel Crowley squeezed home an equaliser.
A Luke Garrard penalty just before the break put the Conference South side back in front but Jon Toral prodded home with 16 minutes remaining to cap a dominant second-half display.
Arsenal will take encouragement from this performance and result against experienced semi-professionals.
SETTING THE SCENE
Gatting made four changes from last weekend's comprehensive win at Harrow Borough. After their New York excursions, Toral and Kris Olsson returned to the midfield while Austin Lipman replaced Benik Afobe as the lone striker. At the back, Stefan O'Connor replaced the injured Julio Pleguezuelo.
Boreham Wood had given Arsenal's first team a vigorous run-out two weeks ago and handed Arsenal's youngsters a defeat in this fixture a year ago.
Nine Arsenal players in tonight's squad were involved in that game last year so Gatting's side knew what they were up against this evening.
The hosts made their physical presence felt in the early exchanges and were ahead after just six minutes. Angol's measured free-kick from 25 yards found a way past Josh Vickers and into the bottom corner.
But unlike last year, Arsenal found an immediate response. Olsson dispossessed Garrard inside the Arsenal half and drove forward before feeding Crowley, who ignored the overlapping run of Ainsley Maitland-Niles and drilled past James Russell to score his third goal of pre-season.
Both sides were willing to throw players forward on a mild summer's evening in Hertfordshire, which made for an extremely open affair. Charlie Walker forced an agile save from Vickers before Crowley shot wide from distance.
In the 27th minute, the lively Olsson teed up Toral, whose drive was parried by Russell and scrambled clear by Josh Hill.
Wood restored their lead on the stroke of half-time when Brandon Ormonde-Ottewill handled Garrard's header. The midfielder sent Vickers the wrong way from 12 yards.
Arsenal were intricate and incisive during the first period and they began the second in similar fashion. Chris Willock exchanged passes with Crowley before stepping inside his man and firing an effort just over.
The Gunners twice went close in the space of two minutes when substitute Alex Iwobi's curled effort clipped the bar with Russell beaten. The winger then saw a deflected effort fly wide moments later.
Gatting's side were guilty of wasting further chances in the final 20 minutes. In the 70th minute Crowley and Willock combined again, this time Willock was the provider, teeing up the midfielder who side-footed wide when he should have hit the target.
Four minutes later Arsenal found a deserved equaliser when Ormonde-Ottewill's low cross from the left byline fell kindly to Toral, who made no mistake with a close-range finish.
Iwobi drove into the side-netting and Tafari Moore shot straight at Russell late on but the performance was always the most important requirement tonight and Arsenal will be pleased with their evening's work.
- Vickers 61
- O'Connor 74
- Willock 78
- Crowley Goal!
- Toral Goal!
- Lipman 55
- Iliev 61
- Wright 74
- Jebb 78
- Iwobi 55
- Garrard Goal!
- Hill 89
- Thomas 66
- Walker 65
- Angol 89 Goal!
- Noto 78 78
- Hope 66
- Whichelow 65