Coming into the clash with three successive wins under their belts, the Foxes youngsters continued their good form at the start of the calendar year, now unbeaten in four.
Two changes were made from the side that defeated Everton Under-23s last time out. In came Joe Wormleighton – for his first Development Squad start – and Will Alves, with Bayli Spencer-Adams and Shane Flynn dropping out.
The Foxes started on the front foot, showing a confidence and intensity in their play. Alves drove at the defence, teeing up Wanya Marcal-Madivadua, who cut inside and fired the game’s first shot over the crossbar.
Sammy Braybrooke, playing in a sweeper role at the heart of the defence alongside Ben Nelson and Lewis Brunt, then directed an inch-perfect pass from deep to set Wormleighton away down the right. He flicked a near-post cross into Tawanda Maswanhise’s path – but the in-form forward found Arsenal captain Arthur Okonkwo equal to his near-post effort.
Arsenal’s early openings came from two Miguel Azeez strikes, the first a free-kick which wasn’t far away from troubling Brad Young, followed by a half-volley diverted narrowly wide.
After a quarter of an hour, Leicester fashioned their breakthrough. A neat through-ball from Khanya Leshabela was expertly controlled by Alves, who wriggled his way through a challenge before being brought down by Okonkwo. Maswanhise stepped up for the spot-kick and sent the ‘keeper the wrong way.
Marcal-Madivadua looked to double the advantage shortly after, but was denied by the Gunners’ shot-stopper, who made a smart low stop to keep the score at 1-0.
In a fiercely competitive half, the away side almost found a response via Jack Henry-Francis, who tried his luck from distance but was unable to find the target, before Omari Hutchinson’s cross was headed towards goal by Azeez, forcing Young into a diving save at his front post.
That was the Leicester ‘keeper’s first involvement, before Salah Oulad M’hand headed over from the resulting corner. At the other end, Brunt attacked Oliver Ewing’s corner with vigour, planting his header towards goal only for Okonkwo to hold on.
But the next goal would arrive at the opposite side of the pitch, on the stroke of half-time. Hutchinson, involved in much of Arsenal’s good play, cut inside from the left, beating Young and finding the bottom corner.
City were also under the cosh in the opening minutes of the second half, until Maswanhise managed to meet a Ewing corner, with the ball eventually falling for Braybrooke, who showed close control to work a shooting position, though his effort was blocked.
Coach Ben Petty had opted to make a tactical switch at the interval, bringing Flynn on and moving Braybrooke back into the middle of midfield.
Maswanhise was involved again shortly after, carrying the ball forward from the right, moving inside and striking wide of the far post, ahead of Marcal-Madivadua forcing the ‘keeper to palm his shot over the crossbar.
The Gunners also searched for the next goal via M’hand, who drove into space but failed to test Young from the edge of the area. His next long-range strike was comfortable for City’s ‘keeper to deal with, too.
Meanwhile, Braybrooke’s more advanced role almost paid off when his pressure led to Maswanhise’s low strike being spilled by the ‘keeper, but there was no one there to apply the finish.
As the minutes ticked by, neither side wanted to lose it as much as they were pushing for the winner. Nelson’s header was tipped over the bar with Okonkwo having to stretch to keep it out from well-placed Ewing’s corner.
A well-worked Leicester move led to an opportunity for Marcal-Madivadua, who was tackled at the last as he took aim, while Arsenal created a late opening of their own but substitute Joel Ideho could not hit the target.
The forward tucked home his early penalty to score for the third game running.
City’s well-deserved early advantage gave the hosts a platform to push on and try to assert their dominance on proceedings. Arsenal then had a spell of pressure, scoring just before the break. Despite searching for a winner late on, neither side could find another way through.
It was an impressive full Development Squad debut from the full-back.
Speaking on LCFC TV’s Matchday Live coverage, Gerry Taggart commented: “For me, overall, if you’re looking at the 90 minutes, one person who was constant, I’m going to have to give it to Joe Wormleighton. He was excellent throughout.
“For his youthful age, the experience he showed defensively, reading situations, his positional sense and also something that you don’t see too often, good, firm challenges. You love to see that from a defender. He was reliable and solid for the 90 minutes.”
Where do we stand?
Oliver Ewing played at the heart of Leicester's midfield against the Gunners.
Leicester’s Development Squad fall to eighth in the Premier League 2 Division 1 table, following Everton’s victory over Derby County, with 26 points gained from 18 matches, though City have at least one game in hand on the teams around them.
Khanya Leshabela probed for another opening during the second half in Seagrave.
Another home fixture at LCFC Training Ground awaits next Monday when Leicester’s Development Squad tackle league leaders Manchester City in Premier League 2 Division 1 (7pm GMT kick-off).
City: Young, B. Nelson, Braybrooke, Brunt (c); Wormleighton, Ewing, Suengchitthawon (Flynn 46’), Leshabela (T. Pennant 58’), Marcal-Madivadua; Maswanhise, Alves (Fitzhugh 66’).
Subs not used: Odunze, Russ.
Goal: Maswanhise 16’ pen.
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