Arsenal U23s salvaged a point in remarkable circumstances yesterday as they drew 3-3 with their Leicester City counterparts at London Colney.
Trailing 3-0 going into stoppage time at the end of the second half, Arsenal got a goal back through Tim Akinola (his first for the club) before substitute Omari Hutchinson made it 3-2.
In the 97th minute Folarin Balogun, who has continued to impress at this level since being promoted to the first-team squad, got Arsenal’s third goal, with Kevin Betsy’s side remaining top of the Premier League 2 table.
To add to the drama, Arsenal had to play the closing stages of the game with striker Mika Biereth in goal as Karl Hein suffered an injury and the Gunners had already used all three of their substitutes.
Amid the rather unbelievable scenes, there was also a significant moment for Jack Henry-Francis, who completed 90 minutes as he looks to establish himself as a key figure for the U23s.
Since returning from injury, Henry-Francis has found himself in between the U23 and U18 squads but with the likes of Charlie Patino and Salah-Eddine out injured he is now receiving opportunities for the older age group.
The midfielder caught the eye for the first-team against Hibernian in pre-season with his slick passing, although he does need to improve his defensive awareness.
It will be intriguing to see how Henry-Francis develops this campaign, but he may have to temporarily drop back down to the U18s when others return from injury.
Next season Henry-Francis, 18, will be a fully-fledged member of the U23 squad and if he continues to progress then further first-team involvement surely won’t be far away.