We suffered late heartbreak against Wigan Athletic as we were beaten 1-0 in the quarter-finals of the Papa John's Trophy on Tuesday night.
Kevin Betsy had a strong contingent of players to choose from and deployed our key men from the start, with Charlie Patino, Salah Oulad M'Hand and Mika Biereth all starting.
After an assured opening 10 minutes, in which we dominated possession, we came within inches of taking the lead, Salah-Eddine's curling strike from outside the box rattling the crossbar and going over.
Salah-Eddine almost turned provider shortly after, when his pinpoint through ball found Biereth, whose strike was smothered by the onrushing Jamie Jones.
Our young Gunners continued to impose themselves on the hosts, Omari Hutchinson's fierce effort stinging the palms of Jones and falling to Zak Swanson, whose effort was saved well on the rebound.
Chris Sze was booked for simulation after going down under the challenge of Zach Awe, in what was Wigan's first real charge into our box.
Patino was replaced by Reuell Walters at the break, signalling a change of system for Betsy's men, but the second half started in a similar fashion to the first, with us taking the game to the hosts.
Swanson saw a good chance go just wide of the post after slipping at the final moment following an impressive team move to work the ball into the box.
Wigan grew into the half and came close to taking the lead, but for some heroic last-ditch defending from Awe to deny an almost certain goal.
The hosts made their pressure tell with eight minutes remaining, Divin Baningime capitalising on a brief lapse of concentration from our defence, running in behind and tucking the ball beyond Ovie Ejeheri.
We pushed right to the final whistle, but were unable to breach the Latics' resolute backline in the closing stages.
WHAT IT MEANS
We bow out of the Papa John's Trophy after becoming the first-ever academy side to reach the quarter-final stage.
Members of tonight's squad will now return to their respective age groups.
Betsy's under-23s are back in Premier League 2 action on Friday, February 4, when we host Chelsea.
Kick-off at Meadow Park is 7pm (UK time).
Dan Micciche's under-18s host Leicester City on Saturday, February 5, in their return to Under-18 Premier League action.
Kick-off at London Colney is at 11.30am (UK time).
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