Folarin Balogun scored twice as we slipped to a late defeat to a Manchester City side containing Leroy Sane at Emirates Stadium.
Pablo Mari, Rob Holding, Reiss Nelson and Ainsley Maitland-Niles all played 45 minutes, as they continue to build match sharpness.
We started strongly and took the lead inside two minutes when Trae Coyle pounced on a weak goal kick from Gavin Bazunu to tee up Balogun. Our striker took a touch and fired into the roof of the net.
The visitors grew into the match and almost equalised when Jayden Braaf skipped past a challenge, then fired low towards goal, but Matt Macey produced a fine reaction save to deny him.
We were well on top and should have doubled our lead midway through the first half when Coyle produced a neat back heel to play Ben Cottrell into the box, but our midfielder couldn’t hit the target.
But 10 minutes before the break, the visitors levelled against the run of play when Adrian Bernabe collected the ball on the edge of the area and powered a low effort against the post, and past Macey from 20 yards.
Chances were few and far between during the opening stages of the second half and our first fell to Balogun who turned well inside the box to lose his marker, but couldn’t direct his effort on target.
Balogun was causing City problems and he grabbed his second of the evening shortly after when he latched onto a through ball, drove into the box and coolly slotted past Bazunu.
But on the 80 minute mark, City levelled once more when Macey could only parry Braaf’s delivery into the path of Taylor Harwood-Bellis, who tapped into the empty net.
And in the closing stages of the match, the visitors took the lead for the first time when Braaf drove down the wing, cut inside and fired a low shot past Macey at the near post.
On the stroke of full-time, Bernabe scored his second and the visitors’ fourth when he was quick to react inside the box to poke home a cut-back from close range.
WHAT IT MEANS
Steve Bould’s side next face Monaco in the Premier League International Cup at Meadow Park on Tuesday, March 3 at 7pm (UK time).
By Sam Cox
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