By Lloyd Webb at The Lamb Ground
Arsenal Under-21s went one point clear at the top of the table after a 1-1 draw with a robust West Brom side on Monday night.
Tyler Roberts made the most of a rare goalscoring chance in an uneventful first half when he found himself unmarked in the box and put the hosts in front.
The second half was the polar opposite to the first, as both sides had chances - the best of which fell to Dan Crowley, but his penalty was saved by Jack Rose.
The Gunners’ persistence finally paid off when Chris Willock fired into the bottom corner.
Despite a number of late opportunities for both sides, it finished deadlocked.
Setting The Scene
Steve Gatting made five changes to the side that beat Blackburn Rovers almost a week ago.
Alex Iwobi and Jeff Reine-Adelaide both played in the senior side's FA Cup third-round win against Sunderland on Saturday, and were replaced by Ismael Bennacer and Glen Kamara.
Tafari Moore made his first start since recovering from a hip injury, while Marc Bola and Stephy Mavididi were also named in the starting XI.
The Gunners approached the game tentatively and were soon punished when an unmarked Roberts applied the finishing touch to a free kick.
Both sides struggled to create chances in difficult playing conditions but it was Crowley who had the next opportunity when he curled an effort just wide.
The midfielder had another bite of the cherry just before the break after creating space for himself, but he fizzed his shot wide of the top corner.
Arsenal started with more attacking intent and almost drew level when Ben Sheaf reacted first to a loose ball in the box and forced Rose into two reaction saves.
Gatting’s side were awarded a penalty just before the hour mark but Crowley’s attempt was saved by the West Brom goalkeeper.
The Gunners finally scored a well-deserved equaliser when Willock raced towards goal and fired into the bottom corner.
West Brom had chances of their own and the best of the bunch fell to Adil Nabi when he cut inside and forced Ryan Huddart into a good save.
Both sides continued to search for the winning goal but had to settle for a share of the spoils.
Copyright 2023 The Arsenal Football Club Limited. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source.