Our young Gunners opened their EFL Trophy campaign with a thrilling 2-2 draw away to Swindon Town - despite drawing, we picked up an additional bonus point after beating the Robins 5-4 in the resulting penalty shootout at the County Ground.
We almost made the perfect start after just two minutes when Ethan Nwaneri played in Charles Sagoe Jr who finished emphatically - but the linesman ruled the winger offside.
However, the hosts opened the scoring just five minutes later when Jacob Wakeling’s cross was inadvertently turned into his own net by Reu Walters.
We were level moments later when a smart short corner routine saw Lino Sousa expertly head home from Nwaneri’s cross.
We almost took the lead midway through the first half as Nwaneri and Myles Lewis-Skelly combined brilliantly but as the latter rounded round the keeper his shot was cleared off the line by Harrison Minturn.
The Robins took the lead when Tariq Uwakwe pounced on an error from Karl Hein to tap into an empty net.
The young Gunners were inches away from equalising when Charles Sagoe Jr’s effort was saved by Lewis Ward, the resulting melee fell to Amario Cozier-Duberry but his strike was somehow cleared off the line.
Although we created the better chances, we went into the break a goal down.
After the restart, we started brighter with Sagoe Jr forcing Ward into an early stop and shortly after Nwaneri had a crack from distance which flew just wide.
We dominated the majority of the second half and Sagoe Jr went close on two occasions - firstly, he fired an effort straight at the keeper after Cozier-Duberry played him through one on one. His next chance shortly after saw his shot somehow get cleared off the line - the third time we had our efforts scrambled off the goalline.
Our deserved equaliser came eight minutes from the end came courtesy of substitute Jimi Gower - he confidently finished in the top corner after being played in by Lewis-Skelly.
The game ended 2-2 meaning a penalty shootout would determine the winner of an additional bonus point.
Mehmet Ali’s young side showed immense composure and went five for five in the shootout with Flores, Cozier-Duberry, Edwards, Nwaneri and Sweet all converting from the spot.
In between their spot kicks, Karl Hein atoned for his earlier error by brilliantly saving Ward’s penalty to earn us a deserved bonus point.
WHAT IT MEANS
We pick up two points from our first game in Group O of the EFL Trophy - the penalty shootout gives us an additional bonus point on top of the usual one point for the draw.
We’re on the road again as we head up the M1 to face Nottingham Forest in the Premier League 2 on Monday, August 28.
Kick-off at Meadow Lane is at 7pm (UK)
Arsenal XI: Hein, Sweet, Walters, Monlouis, Sousa, Ibrahim (Gower, 66) Lewis-Skelly, Nwaneri, Cozier-Duberry, Sagoe Jr (Flores, 72), Butler-Oyedeji (Edwards, 72)
Subs not used: Ejeheri, Foran, Rosiak
Photos courtesy of Callum Knowles
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