We got back to winning ways in Premier League 2 with a 6-3 win at home to Brighton & Hove Albion Under-21s at Meadow Park on Sunday afternoon.
Bradley Ibrahim opened the scoring early on and then created our second and third goals, both scored by Khayon Edwards. Edwards then provided an assist himself, Jack Henry-Francis beneficiary for our fourth of the afternoon. Mark O’Mahony pulled one back on the brink of half-time.
Amario Cozier-Duberry added our fifth early in the second half, before O'Mahony netted his brace. Josh Duffus scored another for Brighton but Cozier-Duberry scored again late on to secure all three points.
Cruising to a comfortable lead
Cozier-Duberry struck high and wide with our first chance of the game in its first minute, but it didn’t take long for us to make the breakthrough.
It was Cozier-Duberry who made it happen, beating Imari Samuels on the right and working his way into the penalty area before pulling the ball back for Charles Sagoe Jr. His effort was blocked on the line by Casper Nilsson, but Ibrahim was on hand to bury the rebound for 1-0 inside five minutes.
Ibrahim curled over the bar after the ball had been set up for him by Sagoe Jr, before Brighton had their first chance when Jakub Moder put Luca Barrington through on goal, but he shot straight at Karl Hein.
We doubled our lead in the 22nd minute, Ibrahim shooting into the path of Edwards, who controlled the ball well and cushioned it past Killian Cahill for 2-0.
Moments later, Ibrahim was once again the provider for Edwards, who slammed it past the goalkeeper at the near post for 3-0.
Edwards then won the ball in a dangerous area, allowing Henry-Francis to get in on the act with a tidy finish into the bottom left corner.
Brighton pull one back
We let Brighton back into the game on the brink of half-time, Mark O’Mahony heading in from Josh Duffus’ cross.
The visitors almost made it 4-2 in the fifth minute of added time as a corner was attacked by Ben Jackson, but Hein made a great save with a big dive to his left to send us into the break with a three goal lead.
At half-time, Ibrahim was replaced by Myles Lewis-Skelly.
Once again, we started the half brightly. Henry-Francis carried the ball forward towards the edge of the 18-yard box and sent it down the right to Cozier-Duberry, who cut inside onto his left foot and fired low past Cahill for 5-1.
But Brighton responded immediately, O'Mahony going up the other end and picking out the bottom left corner to offer a slither of hope once more with the score at 5-2.
Lewis-Skelly created a promising opening for Zane Monlouis from a corner. He struck towards goal on the volley but Cahill did well to make the save.
Samuels put the ball through to O'Mahony, who was searching for his fourth hat-trick of the season, but Monlouis timed his block well to force a corner. At the other end, a fantastic run down the right from Cozier-Duberry led to Sagoe Jr firing for goal on his left foot, but Cahill got up to his left to push the ball behind.
With just over 25 minutes remaining, Duffus beat Taylor Foran and picked out the bottom right corner to make it 5-3 to us.
Protecting the lead
Frustrated that we had a two-goal lead to protect having been 4-0 up earlier in the game, we stuck to the assignment.
Reuell Walters played the ball out left to Sagoe Jr with just over 20 minutes to go and his shot was too central to trouble Cahill, who conceded a corner kick, before Chido Obi came on for Edwards, making his first appearance for the U21s at the age of 15.
We made our next change in the 79th minute, Josh Nichols coming on for Foran.
Duffus almost got his second after het turned inside from the left and looked to catch Hein out at his near post, but thankfully the ball flew just wide with five minutes remaining.
In the 87th minute, Cozier-Duberry showed some excellent footwork on the right and eventually the ball came back out to him. He took a touch to set himself before curling it neatly into the top left corner for 6-3.
Seven minutes were added on, during which Louis Flower headed just wide of the post from Nilsson's cross, but we kept our lead to three goals and saw out the win.
WHAT IT MEANS
The win pushes us up to second in the league, five points behind Tottenham Hotspur. We're level on points with Fulham in third but have a better goal difference.
We’re back at Meadow Park on Friday night for the visit of Manchester City Under-21s. It’s a 7pm kick-off in Premier League 2.
Arsenal XI: Hein, Walters, Foran. (Nichols 79), Monlouis, Heaven, Ibrahim (Lewis-Skelly 46), Henry-Francis, Gower, Cozier-Duberry, Edwards (Obi 71), Sagoe Jnr.
Substitutes (not used): Ejeheri, Azeez.
Brighton XI: Cahill, Nilsson, Samuels, Jackson, Kavanagh, Hinchy (C), Baker-Boaitey (Slater 61), O'Mahony, Duffus, Barrington (Flower 71), Moder (Chouchane 31).
Substitutes (not used): Reid, McConville.
Goals: Arsenal - Ibrahim (5), Edwards (22, 26), Henry-Francis (38), Cozier-Duberry (49, 87), Brighton - O’Mahony (45+3, 52), Duffus (63)
Bookings: Arsenal - Ibrahim (4)
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