STOKE CITY 2 (Thomas 60, Waring pen 77)
ARSENAL 2 (Eisfeld 32, 47)
STOKE CITY’S Under-21s fought back from two goals down to secure a point against Arsenal in their opening home match of the season last night.
An Adam Thomas strike and a penalty from George Waring ensured it finished all square at the Weaver Stadium after Thomas Eisfeld’s brace had put the visitors in the driving seat.
First teamers Maurice Edu and Florent Cuvelier linked up with Glyn Hodges’ side for the clash against the Gunners, in a game which could have been won late on by the Potters had it not been for Deyen Illiev’s late save of another Thomas attempt.
The Potters had started the game well and were disappointed not to have gone ahead in the opening stages.
Cuvelier’s cross from the right found Waring in the box only for his strike to be blocked by a defender, whilst James Alabi saw another attempt deflected wide.
With the Potters in the ascendancy, it was unfortunate to see Arsenal breakaway and open the scoring.
A move involving Glen Kamara and Alex Iwobi allowed German Eisfeld to run free and strike into the top corner from 20 yards out.
As the first half came to a close, keeper Illiev then showed further signs that he’d be a tough nut to crack when he saved Edu’s attempt before smothering Thomas’ rebound.
The break allowed Arsenal to regroup somewhat and they returned to score a quick-fire second.
Stoke failed to completely clear the ball to safety with Eisfeld dinking a shot over Dale Eve and into the back of the net from just outside the box.
Eisfeld then fired wide with a good chance for a hat-trick before Eve pulled off a couple of decent saves to keep the Potters’ slim hopes alive.
And they got the luck that they deserved when Danny Boateng’s weak back pass was intercepted by Thomas on the hour mark who slid the ball past the keeper to halve the deficit.
The comeback was complete with thirteen minutes to go when Waring was brought down in the box by Illiev after Edu’s pass had sent the striker through on goal.
Waring picked himself up to send the keeper the wrong way and make it two-all.
Both sides could have won it in the dying stages and Eve saved Chuba Akpom’s strike before Illiev did well at the other end to divert Thomas’ powerful drive wide.
ARSENAL: Illiev, Moore, Siemann, Olsson, O’Connor, Boateng, Iwobi, Kamara, Akpom, Eisfeld, Jeffrey (Maitland-Niles 83). Subs (Not Used): Huddart, Fagan, Jebb, Uade.
STOKE CITY: Eve, Keane (Heneghan 89), Wheeler, Ward, Grant, Watkins-Clark, Thomas, Edu, Waring, Cuvelier, Alabi. Subs (Not Used): Kurasik, Scott, Rossi, Richards.