Post-Match Report

Under-21s: Arsenal 2-1 Middlesbrough

Middlesbrough U23 -

Meadow Park
Barclays U21 Premier League
Barclays U21 Premier League
  Arsenal U23
   crest
Arsenal U23
2 1
  Middlesbrough U23
      
              Dan Crowley (72
               90)
               0 (90)
          
   crest
Middlesbrough U23
Dan Crowley (72 90) 0 (90)

By Max Jones at Meadow Park

SUMMARY

Arsenal Under-21s shot to the top of the Under-21 Premier League after a hard-fought 2–1 win against Middlesbrough on Friday.

It was a frustrating first half for both teams’ attackers, but a solid one for their goalkeepers who made save after save to ensure the score remained goalless going into the break.

After withstanding early second-half pressure from Middlesbrough, the Gunners found a breakthrough through Dan Crowley. Scott McCarthy levelled with a minute to go but Crowley struck again to give Arsenal all three points.

SETTING THE SCENE

Steve Gatting made one change to the side that beat Stoke City 3-0 as Kamara replaced Serge Gnabry, freeing up Gedion Zelalem behind Chuba Akpom.

Ryan Huddart was also included in the squad for the first time since his recent first-team exploits, but he was kept on the bench by Matt Macey who has been in fine form this season.

An Arsenal win would see them leapfrog Middlesbrough to the top of the table but that would not be an easy task, especially with first-team striker Emmanuel Ledesma leading their attack.

FIRST HALF

With 27 goals between them already this season, there was bound to be attacking football on display right from the start. First Crowley tricked his way into the box, and then Callum Cooke struck from 18 yards, but neither side saw the familiar ripple of the net.

Robbie Tinkler forced Macey into a fantastic reflex save before Crowley stung Ripley’s palms twice in quick succession 10 minutes later, as the goalkeepers showed how vital they are to their sides’ good form.

There were half chances before the break when Ledesma whipped in a free-kick and Kamara shot from the edge of the box but both flew off target, ending a half of uncharacteristically wild finishing from two of the league’s top-scoring sides.

SECOND HALF

Middlesbrough returned for the second half with a clear instruction to shoot on sight and they obliged, but Jordan Jones and Bryn Morris’ efforts did not trouble Macey.

Zelalem then worked some space on the edge of the box and sent a dipping shot just over before Stefan O’Connor denied Ledesma from six yards with a fantastic block.

The defender’s determination sparked life into Arsenal’s attackers and the young Gunners soon had their first goal. Alex Iwobi breezed past two and fed Crowley, who smashed home from close range.

Arsenal looked to be cruising to a well-earned win but then McCarthy turned in from close range in the 90th minute. Instead of settling for the draw, however, the Gunners continued to press and Crowley smashed in from 18 yards to seal the victory.

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