With Arsenal 3-1 up heading into the last 12 minutes of the Barclays Under-18 Premier League clash at their London Colney training base, substitute Aramide Oteh got us back into it before Gunners defender Kris Da Graca got the last touch on Keanan Bennetts’ goal-bound free-kick to ensure the spoils were shared.
Da Graca’s colleague, Jordi Osei-Tutu, had earlier also put through his own net, while striker Eddie Nketiah rattled in a hat-trick at the other end.
And the talking points didn’t end there. Shortly before our second goal, Under-16s centre-half TJ Eyoma stepped off the bench for us to add a sibling element to the existing rivalry between the sides with his older brother Aaron already on the pitch and wearing the captain’s armband for Arsenal.
The early signs were that this was going to be a close affair and so it proved with our lads controlling the play for long spells and the Gunners proving particularly dangerous on the counter-attack.
Their opener came from one such breakaway as Savvas Mourgos set Nketiah free in the left channel and he advanced into the area before crashing a shot in off the far post from the angle.
We were gifted an immediate route back into the game, however, as Arsenal right-back Osei-Tutu saw his attempted back-pass roll straight into the bottom corner of the net just 60 seconds later.
Marcus Edwards was weaving his way into some good areas as the half went on but there was a lack of real shooting chances for either side. Josh Da Silva did manage to find an opening for the hosts but goalkeeper Alfie Whiteman got down low to his left to save well having seen the midfielder’s effort late.
The Gunners regained the lead on 22 minutes as Aaron Eyoma outfoxed his marker with a step-over and played Nketiah in down the right side, with the forward producing another angled finish across Whiteman and into the far corner.
Kazaiah Sterling so nearly levelled for us on the half-hour mark but his header from within a congested six yard box following Edwards’ corner dropped just wide of the back post. The front man could have scored again six minutes later but was denied by Gunners goalkeeper Hugo Keto from inside the area.
Mourgos was inches away from extending the home side’s advantage a minute later when his curler cannoned back off the far upright before the action switched to the other end and Shilow Tracey appeared to be brought down in the box by defender Tyrell Robinson on 41 minutes after good work from Edwards and Zenon Stylianides but the referee was adamant there was nothing doing.
Mourgos seemed to pop up all over the pitch for the hosts and after testing Whiteman with a rising drive on the stroke of half-time, he once again picked out Nketiah in the box for the striker to complete his hat-trick with a curling shot that nestled into the far corner eight minutes after the restart.
Both sides made changes as the action waned a little and when Sterling pounced on a loose ball in the final third but couldn’t find a way past Keto, who had advanced to the edge of his area, it looked like it could be a frustrating end to the game for those in Lilywhite.
Oteh, by then leading the line, had other ideas, though, and after Sterling played him through he fired emphatically into the net to reduce the arrears with 12 minutes left.
Our players clearly sensed an equaliser and one duly arrived four minutes later as Bennetts’ (pictured, above) free-kick from out wide on the right was helped into his own net by the head of Da Graca.
That was as far as we would get, though, as both sides defended resolutely in the closing stages and Sterling was the only one able to muscle his way into a shooting position. He ended up taking his 85th-minute shot on early but saw the ball fly over the top and the curtain subsequently came down on our youngsters’ domestic campaign with honours even.
Spurs U18s: Whiteman, Muscatt, Bennetts, Marsh, Mukena, Owens, Edwards (Oteh 66), Stylianides (Eyoma 71), Sterling, Roles (Duncan 66), Tracey. Substitute (not used): McDermott (GK).