By Connor Armstrong at London Colney
Eddie Nketiah scored the winner as our under-23s returned to action after a mid-season break with a 2-1 win over Derby County.
The Rams came into the game bottom of the Premier League 2 table, and fell behind after six minutes when an excellent through ball from Ismael Bennacer enabled Savvas Mourgos to convert.
The visitors pulled themselves level in fortuitous fashion after just seven minutes of the second period, when a scramble in the area after a corner ended with Timi-Max Elsnik providing the finishing touch.
However, the Gunners were on top for the vast majority of the encounter and made Derby pay when Nketiah and Mourgos combined, with the former slotting a cool effort past the helpless Henrich Ravas.
SETTING THE SCENE
Chuba Akpom made his return from injury, leading our attack and making his first appearance since the 4-0 win over Nottingham Forest in the EFL Cup.
Hugo Keto started in goal, with Marcus McGuane, Joseph Olowu, Ben Sheaf and Tolaji Bola in defence.
Bennacer parterned Gedion Zelalem in midfield, with an advanced trio of Vlad Draogmir, Stephy Mavididi and Mourgos.
Donyell Malen and Nketiah started from the bench.
We came out of the blocks strongly, with Sheaf flashing a free kick just wide of the near post with barely three minutes played.
The deadlock was broken in the sixth minute, with Bennacer’s fine first-time pass into the path of Mourgos enabling the Greek winger to stroke past Ravas.
Akpom then went close, but Ravas got just enough on the ball to turn it around the post.
The Gunners nearly went in with a two-goal lead at the break, but Mavididi saw his powerful strike cannon back off the underside of the crossbar.
Nketiah replaced Akpom at the break, but it was the visitors who were first to try their luck as Lewis Walker drove at goal before seeing his rising effort pushed away by Keto.
Elsnik then levelled for Derby with a low strike after a deflected attempt fell into his path inside the penalty area.
Bennacer and Mourgos both fired over as Gatting’s side went in pursuit of a second goal, but it was to be Nketiah who eventually did the honours with a placed shot in the 70th minute.
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