We made a winning start to our Papa John's Trophy campaign, as we eased to a 2-0 victory away at Cambridge United.
Ahead of the match, boss Mehmet Ali spoke about the opportunities the tournament could offer our young Gunners and we more than met the challenge on Tuesday night.
Unfazed by the League One side, we started on the front foot and earned a dangerous free-kick inside the first five minutes. James Olayinka's impeccably curled shot forced Cambridge's keeper to make a vital early save and tip the ball over the bar.
Our defence weathered spells of Cambridge pressure comfortably, with centre-backs Zach Awe and Taylor Foran staying strong at the back.
Ultimately, a goalkeeping error proved to be the decisive moment of the first-half. A high, lofted pass into the penalty area was misjudged by Cambridge's Will Mannion and Nathan Butler-Oyedeji capitalised to blast the loose ball into the net.
At the other end, Karl Hein was on top form and kept us in the game with a series of fantastic saves to deny a Cambridge equaliser. Just before half-time, an awkward cross from United's Haunstrup forced Hein to make another great block, and we went into the tunnel narrowly ahead.
The game opened up slightly in the second-half with both teams playing fluid, attacking football out from the back. A beautifully clipped cross from Awe in his own half found its way to Butler-Oyedeji, whose attempted dink over the keeper just fell short.
Butler-Oyedeji continued his sensational form and his well-earned second goal arrived just before the hour mark. Tim Akinola battled through the centre of the pitch and fed a ball to Butler-Oyedeji on the edge of the box. Our forward shrugged off his man and unleashed a powerful shot into the net at a narrow angle.
Despite some late first-team substitutions from Cambridge, we continued to have the lion's share of dangerous chances. Jack Henry-Francis hit the side netting after meeting captain James Olayinka's fizzed cross, and a hat-trick eluded Butler-Oyedeji, despite a glorious long-range effort that smashed against the crossbar.
The evening ended with a secured three points and now, we look ahead to our next clash against Ipswich Town in September.
We're back in Papa John's Trophy action on September 20, when we head to Portland Road to face Ipswich Town.
Before then, our next Premier League 2 match takes place this Saturday as we host Blackburn Rovers at Meadow Park. Kick-off is at 1pm UK time.
Starting XI: Hein, Sweet, Foran, Awe, Sousa, Akinola, Henry-Francis, Olayinka (C), Taylor-Hart, Ideho, Butler-Oyedeji
Substitutes: Hillson, Monlouis, Cirjan, Bandeira, Sagoe Jr, Cozier-Duberry
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