By Joe Nelson at Emirates Stadium
Our under-23s rounded off their Premier League 2 season with a 2-2 draw against Manchester United at Emirates Stadium on Monday night.
Cohen Bramall was a star performer, causing the United defenders nightmares in the first half and claiming assists for both Eddie Nketiah and Reiss Nelson, who eased us into a 2-0 lead at the break.
However, the visitors hit back in the second half with Josh Harrop pulling one back from range, before later sending in a wicked cross which rebounded off the unfortunate Chiori Johnson and into his own net.
The draw means Steve Gatting’s side finish fourth in the table behind Liverpool, Manchester City and table-toppers Everton, but impressive performances throughout the season have provided plenty of reasons for optimism.
Setting the scene
The headline team news was that Chris Willock was set to face-off against brother Matthew.
Joe Willock - brother of both Chris and Matthew - was only able to make Gatting's bench, despite scoring twice against United for the under-18s in a 3-0 win earlier this month.
Carl Jenkinson lined up in defence alongside Johnson and Ben Sheaf, while Bramall operated from the other full-back position.
Ainsley Maitland-Niles started in central midfield, with the dangerous attacking duo of Nelson and Nketiah providing the main goal threat for the Gunners.
The first big chance of the match fell to Harrop, who swept a shot goalwards after nimble play on the wing from Joshua Bohui, but Matt Macey was able to direct the strike behind for a corner.
We should’ve found ourselves in front in the 22nd minute as Nketiah fed the ball to Savvas Mourgos - who controlled well - only to send his shot wide of the mark from inside the box.
The lead did eventually come in the 33rd minute after Bramall tore down the left flank before drilling a cross into the path of Nelson, who couldn't miss from six yards out with an open goal at his mercy.
It was shortly two-nil.
Once again the rampant Bramall surged down the left-hand side before finding Nketiah, who turned well and blasted the ball into the top corner past the helpless O'Hara for his sixth goal in Premier League 2 this season.
We nearly made it three within minutes of the restart. After capitalising on some sloppy play from Scott McTominay, substitute Joe Willock charged through on goal but skewed his shot just wide of the far post.
Matthew Willock seemed determined to put his stamp on the match for United. Firstly seeing a shot blocked on the six-yard line, shortly followed by another goal-bound strike, this time parried clear by Macey.
However, Macey was unable to stop Harrop's low drive from outside the area, which gave United the urgency to chase an equaliser.
Substitute Donyell Malen responded by winning a penalty after a sharp turn, but was denied from the spot after an excellent save from O'Hara.
Harrop was again the man who made the difference for the visitors, forcing Johnson to direct the ball into his own net after fizzing in a cross to complete the comeback.
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