Akpom '19, '34, '90+1 (pen)
Brighton & Hove Albion’s under-21s were beaten 4-0 by Arsenal at the Amex, thanks largely to a free-flowing first-half display by the Gunners.
Simon Ireland included Christian Walton, Danny Holla and Paddy McCourt in his starting line-up, who have all been a part of Albion's first-team squad this season.
But it was the visitors that took the lead in the ninth minute, when a corner found its way out to Glen Kamara, whose strike from distance sailed past Walton into the top corner.
The Seagulls had an opportunity to level as Jesse Starkey’s free-kick was met by Holla, only for Arsenal to clear the danger.
The Londoners struck again in the 19th minute when Chuba Akpom netted his first of the game after slotting home Daniel Crowley’s ball across the box.
The visitors had further chances to extend their lead inside the opening half hour as Ainsley Maitland-Niles fired an effort over the crossbar before a free-kick from Crowley hit the roof of the net.
McCourt then showed a superb piece of skill on the left-hand side to deliver a dangerous ball across the Arsenal box, but Tyrell Robinson was on hand to clear the danger.
Arsenal added a third goal in the 34th minute as a long ball over the Albion defence by Robinson was met by Akpom, who lobbed Walton.
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Albion were then forced into their first change of the game just before the interval as Chike Kandi limped off the pitch after clashing with Semi Ajayi, and was replaced by Jimmy Muitt.
Arsenal continued to put the Albion goal under pressure and another slick passing move resulted in a strike from Maitland-Niles that cannoned off the post to safety.
Ireland’s side came back out after the break with renewed vigour and came close to reducing the deficit inside the opening 60 seconds of the second half, as George Cole’s long-range shot went narrowly past the near post.
The Gunners still carried a real threat going forward though and Akpom wasted a golden chance to score a hat-trick after firing wide of the target with just Walton to beat.
Holla was next to go close for Albion when his rasping drive forced Gunners keeper Ryan Huddart to make a fingertip save.
Akpom had another opportunity complete a hat-trick, as his shot was cleared off the line by Ben Barclay, before Walton produced a fine save to deny Crowley from six yards out.
Ireland’s team rallied late on and McCourt’s cleverly engineered corner found Charlie Harris in space, but his low drive went past the post.
Akpom finally completed his hat-trick when he was brought down inside the box by Tom Dallison. The forward then stepped up and converted the resulting spot-kick to give the Gunners a convincing win.
ALBION: Walton (GK); Barry, Dallison, Barclay, Hunt; Holla, Toko, McCourt; Kandi (Muitt 43), Cole (Davis 87), Starkey (Harris 69). Subs not used: Doherty (GK), Wiltshire.