By Max Jones at Soccer AM Stadium
Arsenal Under-21s flew out of the starting gates with a victory in their opening game of the season against Reading at the Soccer AM Stadium on Friday.
Chuba Akpom fired home from the spot in the 14th minute and had several chances to double his tally.
Reading did beat Matt Macey after 57 minutes but their joy was short-lived when the linesman flagged Owusu for offside, and the Gunners defended their lead well for the remainder of the game to secure their first points of the season.
SETTING THE SCENE
Steve Gatting made three changes to the side that topped off an unbeaten pre-season by beating Forest Green Rovers 6-4 last Tuesday.
Ignasi Miquel, fresh from his first-team exploits at the Emirates Cup, replaced Stefan O’Connor, while Dan Crowley came in for Jon Toral, who has joined Brentford on loan. Glen Kamara dropped to the bench to make room for Tafari Moore.
Arsenal lost twice against Reading last season, in the league and the League Cup semi-final, and they were looking for a perfect start in Division Two after finishing in the bottom half of the Premier League.
Arsenal carved out the first chance after a tense opening eight minutes. Ainsley Maitland-Niles found Gedion Zelalem, but the midfielder could only poke wide from 12 yards. Reading’s Liam Kelly stung Macey’s palms from 25 yards three minutes later.
It was the Gunners who drew first blood from a penalty in the 14th minute after Crowley’s cross was nodded back by Maitland-Niles to Akpom. The forward’s header was then handled by Pierce Sweeney, giving Akpom the simple task of converting from the spot to put his side ahead.
And Arsenal nearly doubled their lead eight minutes later. Moore broke from inside his own half and found Maitland-Niles, whose cross nearly found its way past Daniel Lincoln after a series of deflections. The goalkeeper then denied Akpom a second in the 25th minute.
Kelly then lashed a close-range shot wide on the half-hour mark before Crowley nearly caught out Lincoln with a clever low free-kick two minutes before half-time.
Akpom looked sharp all evening and seemed certain to find the net a second time five minutes after the restart. Only Lincoln’s leg stopped the forward’s header from Crowley’s cross.
Reading appeared to equalise in the 57th minute when Owusu tapped past Macey following a goalmouth scramble. However the winger’s strike was ruled out as he had strayed into an offside position.
Akpom had yet another chance to score on the hour mark when he went through one-on-one with Lincoln, but the goalkeeper came out on top again, spreading himself well.
Brandon Ormonde-Ottewill stung Lincoln’s fingertips in the final minute but Akpom’s single goal was enough to secure Arsenal a successful start to the new campaign.
* Highlights of this game will be available on Arsenal Player from Saturday
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