By Max Jones at Meadow Park
Arsenal Under-21s slipped to a 2-1 defeat against Newcastle United at Meadow Park on Monday night.
The visitors took the lead when Remie Streete climbed high to head Dan Barlaser’s corner past Matt Macey.
It was a frustrating evening for the young Gunners against a well-drilled and physical Newcastle side, and they struggled to create any chances of note in the first half.
The story repeated itself after the break. More frustration, more heavy tackles and another goal for Streete, again heading in a corner.
Brandon Ormonde-Ottewill struck a consolation in the 90th minute but the Gunners had left it too late on a cold night in Borehamwood.
SETTING THE SCENE
Steve Gatting made six changes to the side that beat Aston Villa last time out, with
Emi Martinez, Hector Bellerin, Chuba Akpom, Semi Ajayi, Isaac Hayden and Francis Coquelin expected to be in the squad for Tuesday’s Capital One Cup clash with Southampton. Meanwhile Dan Crowley and Ainsley Matiland-Niles also trained with the first team.
Macey, Tafari Moore, Glen Kamara, George Dobson and Alex Iwobi replaced the absentees, and there was a start for Kaylen Hinds after his two-goal heroics against Borussia Dortmund in the Uefa Youth League.
The under-21s were still unbeaten at the top of the table but Newcastle were also in form, sitting three points behind the Gunners with a game in hand.
It took the visitors 10 minutes to breach Arsenal’s defence. Barlaser burst into the box unmarked but volleyed Jamie Sterry’s delivery inches wide.
Newcastle soon took the lead, though, when Streete powered Barlaser’s driven corner past Macey in the 19th minute.
Going a goal behind was a tough test against a side boasting two first-team names in Gael Bigirimana and Shane Ferguson, but the young Gunners responded well.
Crowley drifted his free-kick just over the crossbar before Macey spectacularly pushed away Ferguson’s two minutes later to keep Arsenal well in the game before half-time.
Arsenal started the second half brightly and Jak Alnwick had to react well to deny firstly Iwobi and then hold Crowley’s dangerous free-kick minutes after the break.
But Newcastle doubled their lead with a goal almost identical to their first. Smith this time delivered the corner and Streete was there again to head it home.
The young Gunners kept battling and Gedion Zelalem looked certain to score only for Alnwick to get a strong right hand to his low drive.
But the goalkeeper couldn’t maintain his clean sheet. Ormonde-Ottewill found himself in space at the back post and lashed home a consolation.
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