By Lloyd Webb at Meadow Park
Arsenal Under-21s slipped to their second defeat of the season after they conceded a late goal against Aston Villa at Meadow Park on Monday.
The first half was full of chances for both sides but it was the visitors who went into the break ahead through Jerell Sellars' strike.
Substitute Donyell Malen calmly dispatched a penalty for the Gunners to set the stage for a tense final few minutes, but Rushain Hepburn-Murphy scored late on to condemn them to defeat.
Setting the Scene
Steve Gatting made seven changes to his starting XI following the 1-1 draw with West Ham a week ago.
Ryan Huddart started in goal in place of Matt Macey, while Tafari Moore returned to the side following a short lay-off with an ankle injury.
Reiss Nelson, Ismael Bennacer, Marc Bola, Kaylen Hinds and Stephy Mavididi were all named in the starting XI.
The Gunners started with a high tempo and it almost paid off in the opening three minutes when Hinds fired over the bar from a few yards out.
Aston Villa immediately replied and would have been ahead had it not been for a fantastic save from Huddart to deny Hepburn-Murphy.
Nelson thought he had scored in the 11th minute but, with the goal at his mercy, he was denied by Bradley Watkins’ reflex save.
Sellars put the visitors in front when Hepburn-Murphy’s shot was saved by Huddart and the ball fell to the midfielder, who kept his composure from a few yards out.
Jack Grealish and Corey Blackett-Taylor both came close for Villa in the closing stages of the first half as the Gunners went into the break a goal down.
The visitors started the second half as they finished the first, and Adama Traore should have hit the target but fired over the bar from inside the six-yard box.
Bennacer then curled an effort over the bar from the edge of the box just past the hour mark.
But with 10 minutes remaining, Mavididi drew a foul in the box to win Arsenal a penalty. Malen held his nerve and calmly slotted the ball past Watkins to equalise.
Aston Villa restored their lead five minutes later when Hepburn-Murphy capitalised on a loose ball in the box to score a dramatic winner.
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