By Nik Brumsack at Rush Green
Arsenal Under-21s suffered their first defeat of the season after going down 4-1 to West Ham on Friday night.
Despite taking the lead early on through Kyle Ebecilio’s header, Terry Burton’s side were pegged back by two goals in either half on a rainy evening in east London.
Burton made wholesale changes for the first away game of the season, with only Jernade Watt, Kris Olsson and Sanchez Watt retaining their place from the side that drew 1-1 with Norwich on Monday.
James Shea, who travelled to France with the first team in midweek, was back between the sticks, while Nico Yennaris and Serge Gnabry were among the others to be recalled.
Meanwhile, West Ham included ex-Portsmouth striker Frederic Piquionne among their substitutes,
Arsenal made the perfect start and took the lead after just five minutes. Gnabry’s short corner found Kris Olsson, who delivered an inviting ball that Ebecilio glanced beyond Raphael Spiegel and into the net.
But that lead was to last less than 10 minutes, as West Ham’s positive start was rewarded with a goal.
Rob Hall drove at the Arsenal defence, before driving a low shot past Shea.
And worse was to follow five minutes later.
Blair Tuggott got to the byline, before delivering a cross that fell perfectly at the feet of Matthias Fanimo. His low drive zipped across the surface and left Shea with no chance.
After a barnstorming start the game settled down, with neither side really threatening.
But as the half wore on, Arsenal began to assert a degree of control on the game. Ebecilio, moved to an unfamiliar left-wing position, twice tested Spiegel while Sanchez Watt hit a left-footed effort just wide.
In what was a tight affair, Arsenal shaded the opening exchanges of the second half, with Elton Monteiro nearly bringing the visitors level following Gnabry’s corner.
It came as a surprise then, that the home side extended their lead just after the hour mark.
Burton’s side failed to clear a corner from the right, and the ball eventually fell at the feet of Dan Potts. The centre half swiveled before stabbing the ball home.
Arsenal introduced Hector Bellerin and Thomas Eisfeld, but it was the home side who nearly grabbed a fourth goal halfway through the second half.
Leo Chambers’ fine run was eventually halted, but the loose ball dropped to Turgott, whose shot from just outside the box was tipped to safety by Shea.
Burton’s substitutes were having an impact, and they combined to nearly reduce the arrears after 77 minutes.
Bellerin charged at the defence before slipping in Eisfeld. The German advanced into the area before requiring Spiegel to turn his near-post drive behind for a corner.
But just two minutes later, West Ham made absolutely sure of the result. Fanimo’s precise pass played Turgott through on goal, and the winger kept his composure to place his shot past Shea.
Bellerin went close twice in the closing stages, but that would only have been a scant consolation in a disappointing evening for Burton's young team.
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