By Max Jones
Arsenal Under-21s maintained their 100 per cent start to the season with a 2-1 win against 10-man Newcastle United at St James' Park on Friday.
Alex Iwobi raced on to a through ball to open the scoring before Stephy Mavididi doubled the Gunners’ advantage with two minutes remaining.
Alex Gilliead pulled one back for Peter Beardsley’s side in injury time but his fine strike proved to be a consolation as Arsenal held out to secure all three points.
SETTING THE SCENE
Steve Gatting made just one change to the side that beat West Ham United 5-0 at Emirates Stadium a week earlier.
Under-18s regular Ryan Huddart replaced Matt Macey in goal behind an unchanged back four as captain Julio Pleguezuelo and Krystian Bielik continued their partnership at the heart of defence.
At the other end, Mavididi retained his place up front while Kaylen Hinds, Jeff Reine-Adelaide and Iwobi completed a quick and dangerous front four.
Newcastle made the brighter start and Huddart was forced into two early saves, firstly denying Ivan Toney from close range before holding on to Sean Longstaff’s curling effort.
Arsenal hit back almost immediately when Reine-Adelaide beat his man and crossed to Mavididi in the box, but the striker could only head against the post with Karl Darlow beaten, before the goalkeeper pushed Hinds’ powerful drive over the crossbar.
The hosts finished the half strongly, though, and this time Gatting’s side were indebted to the frame of the goal as Toney’s effort crashed off the underside of the bar before Gael Bigirimana smashed inches wide.
Toney threatened again after the restart, firing into the side netting from 12 yards, but Newcastle were soon reduced to 10 men when Callum Williams was sent off for tripping Mavididi as he raced towards goal.
Darlow reacted well to push away the resulting free-kick but he was finally beaten shortly after when Iwobi powered into the box to finish, before Mavididi doubled the Gunners’ tally from close range.
Gilliead then pulled one back with a low strike deep into injury time, but Arsenal’s defence stood firm to continue their impressive start to the season.
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