Our under-21s had to settle for a point in their Leasing.com Trophy opener, as they drew 1-1 with Northampton Town in 90 minutes before losing 4-3 on penalties.
Emile Smith Rowe was named in the starting XI for the third consecutive game, while Matt Macey made his first start since returning from his season-long loan spell with Plymouth Argyle.
The Cobblers named an experienced side and our youngsters handled it admirably throughout the first half, maintaining their defensive shape and finding themselves in some dangerous positions.
Folarin Balogun and Nathan Tormey were particularly dangerous with their blistering pace on the counter, but we were unable to create any clear-cut chances.
Following the break, however, the game livened up with Trae Coyle forcing Andrew Fisher into a fine diving save, and Tormey firing into the side netting from inside the area.
We continued to dominate play and looked set for an opener, but shortly after the hour mark we were reduced to 10 men, after Tobi Omole saw red for a late challenge on Sam Hoskins.
But despite being a man down, we still found the breakthrough. Smith Rowe broke free down the left and fizzed the ball across the face of goal, leaving James Olayinka, a makeshift right back at the time, with the simple task of firing home.
Our youngsters deserved all three points - but the Cobblers grabbed an equaliser late on, when Hoskins fizzed a volley into the top-left corner to send the game to penalties.
Macey made a sublime save to deny Northampton’s fifth penalty after Burton, Tormey and Balogun converted, but we were left to rue misses from Coyle and Smith Rowe.
WHAT IT MEANS
Our next group-stage outing will be against Peterborough United on Tuesday, October 1.
The game will take place at the Western Homes Stadium with kick-off at 7.30pm (UK time).
Copyright 2023 The Arsenal Football Club Limited. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source.