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CUP MATCH REPORT: Swindon Town 2-1 Arsenal U21
SWINDON TOWN won their first game of the EFL Trophy as they outclassed Arsenal’s academy outfit, winning 2-1 at the County Ground, with goals from Mohammad Dabre and Dion Conroy cancelling out Joel Idaho’s away strike. Read below as Total Sport Swindon’s Ryan Walker gives his match report from SN1.
Making seven changes from the Town side that drew away to Stevenage in the league at the weekend, Ben Garner’s youthful Swindon Town outfit started the brighter of the two sides with Brentford loanee Alex Gilbert at the forefront of Swindon’s initial attacks.
Nervous play from Arsenal keeper Ovie Ejeheri in the opening five minutes saw Gilbert’s cross palmed into a danger area as Jayden Mitchell-Lawson failed to score on the follow-up.
The duo again threatened to open the scoring moments later as Gilbert skipped away from his opposite number before threading a pass into Mitchell-Lawson as the attacker struggled to get the ball under control.
Attempting to build from the back saw Swindon’s high-energy press cause problems for Arsenal’s academy defence as Kevin Betsy’s players spent too long on the ball inside their own area, and often lacking accuracy with their passing.
Highly-rated Mika Biereth fashioned the Gunners’ first chance on goal after bringing down Charlie Patino’s pass before unleashing a powerful strike towards Lewis Wards near-post that clattered off the post and out of play.
Making his full debut for the club, Gilbert got the assist he had been threatening as his cross from the left found Mohammad Dabre inside the six-yard area as the 18-year-old bundled his effort past Ejeheri to open his goalscoring account for the club and first of the match.
Winger Revell Walters attempted to fashion a chance for the visitors with neat footwork on the wing seeing him drift past two Swindon players with his pass into Biereth resulting in a corner that came to nothing.
Dabre had a half-chance to bag his second in the 28th minute as he brought down Gilbert’s cross inside the Arsenal box, but with his back to goal couldn’t muster an attempt on goal.
Despite dominating possession, Swindon struggled to build on their earlier chances as Arsenal’s inexperienced youth outfit grew in confidence and out of nothing pulled themselves level with a brilliant driven strike from Joel Idaho in the 33rd minute nestling past Ward and into the bottom corner.
Kido Taylor-Hart momentarily threatened to put Arsenal in front for the first time in the match after riding a couple of challenges before unleashing a shot that took a deflection just before half-time.
Gilbert attempted to pile on the pressure for the hosts in added time but neither side could find a breakthrough as the interval arrived.
Mitchell-Lawson nearly opened the second-half with a spectacular solo goal as he dribbled past two defenders before pulling a left-footed shot across the face of goal and narrowly wide.
Just minutes later Arsenal’s Biereth pounced on a mistake by Swindon’s defence that resulted in Ward producing a brilliant tackle inside his own box to steal possession back.
Both keepers were again involved in the action as Mitchell-Lawson forced Ejeheri into a diving save to deny the attackers curling effort in the 54th minute, as Ward had to be alert to tip a free-kick over the bar at the other end.
Triple substitutions from Ben Garner saw Tyreece Simpson, Dion Conroy, and Jack Payne all enter the fray, with Payne immediately involved with a shot from range that was hit straight at Ejeheri.
Swindon piled on the pressure and reaped the rewards from Garner’s substitutions in the 68th minute as Conroy beat his man to the near-post to get a glance on Payne’s corner and give Swindon the lead once again.
Arsenal reacted with substitutes of their own but as they chased the game, chances were left in behind for Swindon’s attackers to exploit with Simpson being the main beneficiary as he countlessly got the ball in behind the Arsenal defence but couldn’t find the finishing touch as Ejeheri denied him.
Arsenal attempted to rally in the final stages, but never looked like scoring. This was a match where senior minds outclassed their youthful opponents and despite scoring, the London outfit never really looked like winning this cup encounter. Swindon picked up all three points in Group F of the EFL Trophy and will now be confident of progressing through to the next round.
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