Ipswich Town 2-2 Arsenal Under 21: Blues beaten 4-3 on penalties

An own goal by Kane Vincent-Young sees Towns lead halved.

An own goal by Kane Vincent-Young sees Towns lead halved. - Credit: Steve Waller - stephenwaller.com

Ipswich Town’s journey in the Papa John’s Trophy is over after losing on penalties to Arsenal’s Under 21s, having letting a two-goal lead slip inside the 90 minutes. 

The Blues appeared to be cruising after Kayden Jackson’s brace had slotted Paul Cook’s side into a comfortable lead by the interval but, as they so often have this season, regardless of personnel, they let that lead fall away. 

Both of Arsenal’s goals came within a matter of minutes, with Kane Vincent-Young turning an in-swinging corner into his own net, before Folarin Balogun slotted through Vaclav Hladky as he converted one of his many chances of the evening to level matters. 

Joe Pigott had a string of chances later on, but couldn’t stop the contest from going to penalties, where Bersant Celina and Pigott both missed as Town exited the competition after losing the shootout 4-3. 

Town players celebrate with Kayden Jackson after he had scored their second.

Town players celebrate with Kayden Jackson after he had scored their second. - Credit: Steve Waller - stephenwaller.com

Cook changed his entire team for this game, making 11 changes from the side which beat Crewe on Sunday. 

Vaclav Hladky returned in goal, behind a defence of Kane Vincent-Young, Luke Woolfenden, Cameron Burgess and Matt Penney, with Idris El Mizouni and Tom Carroll operating in front of them. 

Rekeem Harper was most advanced of the central players, with Kayden Jackson and Kyle Edwards flanking him in an attacking trio which operated behind No.9 Joe Pigott. 

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The Town striker was involved early, running onto Luke Woolfenden’s ball forward at a time when goalkeeper Ovie Ejeheri was off his line. Pigott took his time, though, before trying to curl the ball, low, around the Arsenal man but couldn’t catch his shot with the required force.  

The young Gunners, operating in a 3-5-2 system, were technically excellent as they looked to stroke the ball around, finding openings as they went, but the Blues were able to sniff them out and launch attacks of their own.  

Joe Pigott charges forward against Arsenal U21s.

Joe Pigott charges forward against Arsenal U21s. - Credit: Steve Waller - stephenwaller.com

El Mizouni had a shot blocked and Edwards probed the box on a couple of occasions, without being able to make the final move towards goal.  

Harper was the next to shoot on target, sending in a low effort which was easy for Ejeheri to get down and hold, before the Blues made their breakthrough. 

It came through Jackson, who picked up a loose ball well and advanced to the edge of the box, before letting off a well-hit shot which took a deflection off Mazeed Ogungbo on its way into the Arsenal net. 

The Gunners kept at it and rattled Hladky’s crossbar before the break, as wing back Joel Lopez met an excellent crossfield ball to head against the woodwork, but the youngsters soon found themselves two behind. 

Carroll made the first move for Ipswich’s second, changing the pace of the attack with a clever pass into Penney, who swung the ball into the box for Jackson to meet with an outstretched boot. 

Kayden Jackson in action against Arsenal U21s.

Kayden Jackson in action against Arsenal U21s. - Credit: Steve Waller - stephenwaller.com

Folarin Balogun, who started the Arsenal first-team's opening game of the season, dragged a shot across the face of goal with the final touch of the first period, as the Blues went in two goals up. 

El Mizouni had the first opportunity of the second half, heading Vincent-Young's excellent ball over the bar at the start of the second period, before Burgess got back well to stop Balogun from pulling the trigger after finding himself one-on-one with Hladky. 

Balogun really should have halved the deficit on the hour but oddly chose to attack a Zak Swanson cross with his right foot, rather than tapping home with his left as Arsenal maintained their threat. 

Harper so nearly opened his account in an Ipswich shirt, as a rocket of a shot from outside the box flew through traffic and was tipped over the top by the Arsenal keeper, before the resulting corner gave Edwards a chance to shoot, with the winger firing wide. 

Town were looking supremely comfortable but that all changed as the visitors struck twice in just five minutes to level matters. 

The first saw Zak Swanson’s corner fly all the way into the back of the Ipswich net, with enough of a touch off of Vincent-Young for the Town man to be credited as an own goal, before a slick Gunners move just a few minutes later ending with Balogun shooting through Hladky after finding himself dangerous shooting position. 

Kane Vincent-Young in action against Arsenal U21s.

Kane Vincent-Young in action against Arsenal U21s. - Credit: Steve Waller - stephenwaller.com

Pigott headed wide as Town looked to reassert some kind of dominance, before the striker’s busiest period of the game saw his shot from outside the box saved. He thought he’d won the game for the Blues as he slotted home from Jackson’s cross a few minutes later, but sadly the offside flag was already raised. 

That was as close as the Blues came to winning it, before the tie headed to the lottery of a shootout. 

Lee Evans, Conor Chaplin and Jackson all scored from the spot but, after Celina and Pigott’s misses, Omari Hutchinson was able to step up and fire home the winning penalty which saw Arsenal advance after a 4-3 shootout win. 

Ipswich Town: Hladky; Vincent-Young (Donacien, 78), Woolfenden, Burgess, Penney; El Mizouni (Chaplin, 90), Carroll; Jackson, Harper (Evans, 78), Edwards (Celina, 78); Pigott

Subs: Holy; Kenlock, Fraser

Arsenal U21s: Ejehiri; Norton-Cuffy; Rekik, Ogungbo, Lopez; Akinola, Swanson (Alebiousi, 89), Patino (Oulad-M'hand, 46); Hutchinson, Biereth, Balogun

Subs: Ideho, Olayinka, Taylor-Hart, Mitchell, Cozier-Duberry

Att: 4,065 (244 Arsenal fans)

Penalty shootout

Ipswich Town

Evans - scored

Chaplin - scored

Celina- saved

Pigott - missed

Jackson - scored

Arsenal

Balogun - scored

Oulad-M'Hand - scored

Rekik - saved

Biereth - scored

Hutchinson - scored

Arsenal win 4-3 on penalties

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