A chilled, rainy Sunday afternoon saw our Under-21s return to the top of the table after an impressive and well-deserved 3-1 win over Everton.
Goals from Catalin Cirjan, Mauro Bandeira, and Marquinhos fired Mehmet Ali’s side to victory at Meadow Park.
We started brightly and were ahead after just seven minutes when Marquinhos’s cross found Cirjan, who guided a left-footed strike into the bottom corner. Our lead was almost doubled a minute later when Amario Cozier-Duberry flashed his effort off the crossbar.
However, Everton found their way level against the run of play as Isaac Price nodded in from close range.
Despite the setback, we retook the lead ten minutes later when Taylor Foran’s immaculate through ball found Cozier-Duberry, whose precise cut-back allowed Mauro Bandeira to fire home - his second goal in as many games.
Striker Khayon Edwards almost made it 3-1 on the brink of halftime but was denied by the Everton shot-stopper.
It was more one-way traffic in the second half as the Everton defence struggled to deal with the dynamic duo of Marquinhos and Cozier-Duberry on both flanks, and it was the former who restored our two-goal lead with a thunderous low strike from inside the area.
Both second-half substitutes Sagoe Jr and Butler-Oyedeji were inches away from making it four on two separate occasions, but both of their efforts narrowly missed the target.
Later in the half, there were a couple of uncertain moments as Everton threatened the goal but our back four stood firm. Timely interventions from Taylor Foran and Zach Awe at crucial moments meant that we held out for an important three points.
What it means
We remain undefeated over 11 league matches and our under-21s sit top of Premier League 2 on 23 points - a point clear of second-placed Liverpool.
Arsenal: Graczyk, Walters, Foran, Sousa (Quesada-Thorn, 81), Smith (C), Cirjan (Henry Francis, 61), Bandeira, Cozier-Duberry, Marquinhos (Sagoe Jr, 61), Edwards (Butler-Oyedeji, 81)
Unused substitutes: Hillson
Everton: Leban, Welch (Kouyate, 73), Hunt (Heath, 83), Anderson, Samuels-Smith, Mills (Campbell, 72), Quirk, Price, Cannon (Dixon, 73), Whitaker, Okoronkwo
Unused substitutes: Barrett
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