Premier League 2: Arsenal U23 2 Everton U23 2
- Credit: PA Archive/PA Images
Arsenal U23s climbed to second in the Premier League 2 table with an entertaining draw against Everton U23s at Emirates Stadium on Friday night.
Goals from Tyreece John-Jules and Robbie Burton saw Arsenal go ahead but an Anthony Gordon brace rescued a point for the defending champions.
Rob Holding continued his road to recovery, completing the full match, as Emile Smith Rowe featured for 77 minutes.
After some early sparring, John-Jules sparked the game into life with an audacious lob on four minutes.
Tolaji Bola broke down the left clipped the ball over the Everton defence into the forward's path. Without breaking stride, John-Jules hopped while flicking the ball over Nico Hanson and into the goal with the outside of his right boot.
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Everton didn't wait long to equalise, however, as Gordon levelled within moments.
He beat Arsenal's high line and when faced by Karl Hein in goal, did well to strike the ball across him and into the goal.
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Steve Bould's side responded well and continued to drive forward with Bukayo Saka who was making his first start of the season.
Shortly after having a pop at goal saved, the 17-year-old combined well with Smith Rowe to get into the box but had a penalty claim waved away.
Staying on the front foot, Arsenal regained their lead through captain Burton at the midway point of the half.
After Flo Balogun and Trae Coyle linked up on the edge of the box, a give-and-go opened space for Burton to finish first-time from the edge of the box.
Arsenal came within inches of extending their lead as the half drew to a close but Holding was denied by a goalline clearance.
He met Burton's inswinging corner at the back post but his header across goal fell just short.
Saka was sharp to begin the second half and was unlucky not to have an assist to his name.
On two occasions we beat his man to get deep into the Everton box the closest he came to an assist was when his cutback was mishit by Balogun in the six-yard box.
Everton then had a penalty shout 10 minutes into the half as Anthony Evans felt he was tripped as he burst into the box but referee, Matthew Russell waved away the claim.
Near the hour mark, Trae Coyle began to make his mark on the game. Switching wings, he became hard to cover and wrestled his way into dangerous positions and got a powerful shot off at goal.
Continuing his road to recovery, Smith Rowe was substituted with just shy of 15 minutes to play. This followed a burst into the box which saw his fierce shot deflected wide.
Arsenal's missed chances cost them late on as Gordon added his second equaliser of the game. Staying alive, he was alert enough to capitalise on Hein's mishap which left him in front of an open goal.
Arsenal piled on the pressure in the closing stages but the visitors held firm for a share of the spoils.
Arsenal: Hein, Swanson (Olowu 70), Bola, Burton, Holding, Clarke, Coyle, Smith Rowe (McEneff 77), Balogun, John-Jules, Saka (Tormey 64). Unused subs: Hillson, Olayinka.