Arsenal Under-18s came from behind twice to draw 3-3 against Brighton at London Colney.
Conor Tighe gave Brighton the best possible start inside seven minutes but Harry Donovan equalised soon after. Ragnar Marlarusson then restored Brighton’s lead before Savvas Mourgos levelled a minute after half-time.
Aaron Eyoma then struck to turn the tie on its head but Conor Pring was on target to ensure both sides left with a point at the end of a dramatic afternoon in north London.
Frans de Kat made 10 changes to the side that lost 3-0 against Chelsea, as only Aaron Eyoma retained his place.
Hugo Keto’s inclusion saw Ryan Huddart drop to the bench while there was a completely new back four featuring Jon Centeno, Renny Smith, Elliot Wright and Ilias Chatzitheodoridis. Elsewhere, Ben Sheaf, Mourgos, Donovan, Josh Da Silva and Marcus Agyei-Tabi also came in.
After the Chelsea loss, and having not scored since September, De Kat would have wanted his side to make it through the first 15 minutes unscathed. However, when Tighe picked up the ball on the halfway line, the young Gunners looked in trouble.
The forward sped past Centeno before cutting inside and curling his 25-yard strike over Keto and into the far top corner.
Arsenal responded positively, though. Da Silva found Ben Sheaf in the box whose first-time shot was parried as far as the unmarked Donovan, leaving the midfielder with a simple tap-in to equalise.
The Gunners could have gone ahead when Eyoma wriggled away from three defenders on he edge of the area and crossed to Da Silva, but the forward smashed it over the bar from eight yards.
Brighton had ridden their luck under pressure from the home side but took their final chance before half-time well. Marlarusson snuck in behind Chatzitheodoridis, raced into the box and slid his shot through Keto’s legs to restore his side’s lead.
De Kat made two changes at the break, bringing on George Dobson and Nathan Tella, and they had an instant impact. Dobson stepped out of defence after a good spell of possession to find Mourgos, who beat his man before rifling into the bottom corner.
With all the momentum behind them, Arsenal took the lead for the first time. Eyoma, who hit the side netting from a short corner minutes before, made no mistake as he latched onto Agyei-Tabi’s cross and finished past Josh Smith.
But Brighton equalised three minutes later. Keto reacted well to beat away James Tilley’s powerful drive but Pring was on hand to lash in the rebound and set up a nervy final few minutes for the home side.
The Seagulls had the chance to grab a last-minute winner but Tilley curled his shot wide from inside the box as Arsenal scraped a point from an action-packed 90 minutes.
“We both had lots of chances so a draw is an okay result,” De Kat said. “I was very pleased with the first part of the second half. We were very good because we pressed and kept the ball, and we also took our chances, so that was the best part for me.
“At the end you could see that they had more under-18 players than we did and we suffered from a lack of energy as we had three under-16 players. It was not because of that but you could see that we did not have the energy to keep on attacking.”
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