Match Reports

U23 Report: Arsenal 1 Albion 1

By Alex Stedman • 20 August 2018

  • Jason Steele, Beram Kayal, Alireza Jahanbakhsh and Jurgen Locadia all start
  • Reiss Nelson opens the scoring for the hosts
  • Aaron Connolly comes off the bench to equalise in stoppage time
  • Albion travel to the Lamex Stadium to face Tottenham Hotpsur on Friday evening 

Brighton & Hove Albion’s under-23s played out an entertaining 1-1 draw with Arsenal on Monday evening at the Emirates Stadium.

Reiss Nelson had fired the home side into a late lead inside the final ten minutes after a goalless first half, but Aaron Connolly came off the bench to stylishly level the scores and earn the Seagulls a share of the spoils. 

Simon Rusk gave starts to the senior quartet of Jason Steele, Alireza Jahanbakhsh, Beram Kayal and Jurgen Locadia for the contest in north London.

Viktor Gyokeres had the first chance of the night when he headed Owen Moore’s deep cross from the right-hand side into the side netting.

Emile Smith-Rowe flashed a cross into the area from the right but no home player could meet the delivery, before Nelson fired over as the hosts had two good chances in quick succession. 

Ben Barclay met Kayal’s corner but headed over the bar, and Moore saw another break down the right-hand side end in his cross being deflected into the arms of Deyan Iliev, as both sides continued to create chances. 

Will Collar volleyed over from inside the area and Gyokeres was nearly set in on goal by Kayal as the half-hour mark approached, before Jahanbakhsh went agoninsgly close to opening the scoring ten minutes before the interval. 

The Iranian stood over a free-kick out on the left-hand side of the area, and as the midfielder stepped up to curl it towards the top corner, Iliev flew to his right and clawed it behind as Albion went close to taking a lead.

There was still time for Joseph Willock to fire over as the break approached, but the sides went in level at the halfway point on a mild evening in the capital. 

Arsenal came out of the blocks quickly during the second half, and the Seagulls' first opening of the period came when Gyokeres latched onto a quick thrown-in and skewed wide five minutes before the hour mark. 

Rusk’s team continued to probe and a free-flowing move on 67 minutes saw Locadia’s clever flick find Jahanbakhsh on the right-hand side – the winger crossed into the centre, the ball was parried and Kayal fired the loose ball narrowly wide.

The Iranian had the ball in the net with seven minutes left to play when he fired home from Kayal’s free-kick, but the flag went up for offside and the game remained all square. 

Nelson had looked the home side’s biggest threat all evening, and he would get on the scoresheet inside the final few minutes of normal time, as he picked up a cross from the left and fired home past Steele in what looked to be the decisive strike on the night.

But as six minutes of stoppage time were indicated by the fourth official, Rusk’s men kept up the pressure and were rewarded for their efforts. 

Kayal's free-kick into the area found Jahanbakhsh and his shot was blocked, but the rebound fell to Connolly who reacted quickest and lashed home from inside the area to spark scenes of celebration both on the field and in the technical area.

Anders Dreyer then had a glorious chance to take all three points, as he found himself one-v-one with Iliev, but the Albion winger's fierce shot was saved by the Gunners shot-stopper.

Connolly's goal was a leveller that the Seagulls no doubt deserved given their performance on the night, and they picked up a second draw in as many matches as the referee brought a frantic final few moments to a close.

Albion line-up: Steele (GK); Moore, White (Roberts 76), Barclay, Cochrane; Jahanbakhsh, Collar (Dreyer 89), Kayal, Tilley (Connolly 76), Gyokeres; Locadia.

Subs not used: Keto (GK); A.Davies, J.Davies.