By Joe Brewin at London Colney
Arsenal Under-18s fought back from a goal down to claim their first win of the season against Everton on Saturday morning.
Pat Holland’s youngsters fell behind to George Waring’s early opener but grabbed all three points thanks to an Isaac Hayden-inspired turnaround after half time.
The defender scored the first with a fine effort from the edge of the box before turning provider for winger Tarum Dawkins just four minutes later.
Holland named eight first-year scholars in his starting line-up, with Alfred Mugabo, Glen Kamara and Austin Lipman all included.
A relatively quiet half was largely dominated by the visitors. Everton controlled possession for the first half an hour and could have been ahead inside 14 minutes but for Hayden’s timely block to deny Chris Long.
But Long was at the heart of the action as Everton took the lead less than a minute later. The forward fed strike partner Waring through the middle, the latter lashing home a fine finish into the bottom corner.
The Merseysiders continued to dominate and went close through right back Jon Joe Kenny’s fierce volley which sailed narrowly over.
Slowly but surely Holland’s young Gunners worked their way back into the match and almost drew level in fortunate circumstances. Goalkeeper Mason Springthorpe’s wayward goal-kick struck Lipman before ricocheting back off the post to safety.
The lively Anthony Jeffrey caused problems for the final 15 minutes of the half and twice went close, first arrowing a good effort just wide before firing off target after a neat one-two with Lipman.
Springthorpe made amends for his lapse in concentration three minutes before the break to bat away Hayden’s goalbound header. It was a strong end to the half but the Gunners trailed at the interval.
Arsenal were bright after the restart and deservedly drew level just before the hour mark when Hayden rifled home a fine finish from the edge of the box.
Just four minutes later the turnaround was complete - and Hayden was involved yet again. The marauding centre back teed up Dawkins, who found the bottom corner with a glorious finish.
Dawkins almost snatched his second but cracked a powerful effort narrowly wide.
An entertaining second half had already sparked into life, but Everton should have added to the drama five minutes later. Conor Grant’s corner was not cleared, only for striker Long to hook over a chance he really should have taken.
The visitors pressed for an equaliser but did little to trouble Holland’s well-organised youngsters in the final 20 minutes.
This was Arsenal’s day, three points secured and an unlikely attacking hero unearthed in Hayden.
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