By Max Jones at Meadow Park
Arsenal Under-21s lost 3-1 against Bolton Wanderers at Meadow Park on Monday.
The defeat ended the young Gunners’ five-match unbeaten streak that dated back to September.
Bolton got off to a flying start when Tom Walker volleyed into the corner within five minutes but Arsenal hit back through Stefan O’Connor, who headed in after an intricate set-piece routine.
Chuba Akpom had a goal correctly ruled out for offside at the start of the second half as the young Gunners seized control of the game, but Kaiyne Woolery struck twice in the final minutes to give Bolton all three points.
SETTING THE SCENE
Steve Gatting made two changes to the side that beat Brighton 4-1 at Amex Stadium at the start of December.
Matt Macey reclaimed his spot in goal while Isaac Hayden returned from injury to replace recent first-team debutant Ainsley Maitland-Niles. The change saw Glen Kamara, who scored in the previous match, play a more advanced role.
Elsewhere, after impressing on his full under-21s debut in the Brighton win and scoring for the under-19s against Galatasaray, 17-year-old Tyrell Robinson retained his place at left back.
Arsenal needed a win a stay in touch with Newcastle United at the top of the Under-21 Premier League Divison Two, whereas Bolton sat just five points clear of bottom club Brighton.
After dominating their last game, the young Gunners would have wanted a similarly bright start. However, seconds after Sanmi Odelusi stung Macey’s palms with a low strike, Bolton took the lead.
Walker floated behind Arsenal’s back four and expertly volleyed Oscar Threlkeld’s lofted ball into the bottom corner.
The Gunners responded well and, after a couple of overhit crosses, they soon found their target. Using the same clever corner routine that worked so well against Brighton, Daniel Crowley dummied, Akpom crossed and O’Connor nodded in at the back post.
Akpom looked dangerous every time he got the ball in Bolton’s half but, despite several openings, including a shot that whistled across the face of goal, the sides went into the break level.
Arsenal started strongly after the interval and Akpom had a goal disallowed. The striker smashed past Ross Fitzsimons from an offside position after Alex Iowbi had glided past two defenders with ease.
Iwobi went close next, bursting through the middle to latch onto Robinson’s threaded pass after the 17-year-old had carved his way through Bolton’s midfield. This time Fitzsimons was out quickly to smother.
Robinson provided a constant threat from left back and was unlucky to see his powerful drive bounce inches wide of the far post after another blistering run from inside his own half.
Arsenal were made to rue their missed chances with three minutes to play. Woolery steered in at the near post before smashing home after a stoppage-time counter-attack to secure victory for Bolton.