Academy Report: Brown back in the goals

The Christmas period at the academy is never as intense as it is at senior level and in fact there is a break for both the U18's and...

The Christmas period at the academy is never as intense as it is at senior level and in fact there is a break for both the U18's and the U21's over the period where the first team pile in lots of games.

This week there was games at both levels of the academy and plenty of goals too. The U18's were playing away to West Brom and with the FA Youth Cup and involvement for youngsters in the UEFA Youth League there was changes and chances for some young players in this game.

Brad Collins was the keeper and with Ben Killip moving to Norwich he will be the regular keeper at this level now after splitting duties with Killip and with Collins still only 16 it is a big vote of confidence for the young keeper. The back 4 also included younger players with Tomori, Brady and a first appearance this season for Clarke-Salter all 16 alongside the relative experience of 18 year old Muleba. There was another 16 year old in midfield with Ali playing alongside slightly older Colkett and Sammut and the forward line was a familiar Kandi, Gnahore and another 16 year old in Abraham.

In the end the game would finish in a 1 - 1 draw after having some good opportunities to score and failing to do so the young blues would concede after allowing too easily the West Brom forward to move through the defence and have a shot on goal which Collins was unable to get close to and Chelsea found themselves having to chase for a result. Things could have got worse for Chelsea though but Collins was able to pull of a great point blank save to deny West Brom the chance to double their lead.

Chelsea would then get themselves back into the game after good work from Tammy Abraham fed in Gnahore down the line who crossed into the box and Chike Kandi got in front of his man to be able to slot the ball past the keeper to bring things back on level terms. Chelsea would go on to press their advantage and go for the winning goal both Gnahore and substitute Palmer had good chances to score but did not and then Gnahore thought he had scored after lifting the ball over the advancing keeper but the West Brom defender got there just in time to clear off the line and keep the scores level for the final whistle.

Highlights for this game are here:

The U21's would finish 2013 in style, playing away to Bolton they eventually came away with a very impressive 5 - 0 win. The team was a familiar one with Jamal Blackman in goal behind a back four of Dabo, Davey, Christensen and Wright. In the midfield Nathan Ake was holding with John Swift and Alex Davey in front of him and the forward line was Brown, Boga and Feruz.

Things started well for Chelsea, Lewis Baker after taking a free kick got the ball back to him and from right on the corner of the 18 yard box curled the ball in the top far corner of the goal. That goal would set Chelsea's tempo for the night and the caliber of goals that would be scored. Next up was Izzy Brown who would get his first of 3 goals in this game after good work by Feruz and some silky footwork form Swift in the box followed by a lay off to Brown who then struck a bullet of a shot in the goal off the bar giveing the keeper no chance.

The second half would be more of the same and when Jeremie Boga passed so calmly down the middle of the pitch taking out 3 Bolton defenders and finding Brown again you knew there was only going to be one result and that was what happened with Brown calmly beating the keeper one on one, it has been 6 games for the U21's since scoring for Brown so it was nice to see him back in this sort of goal scoring form. Brown would soon complete his hat trick too as Lewis Baker fed him in wide and with the confidence he had there was only going to be one outcome which was a shot across the keeper and the ball in the back of the net.

That was not quite to be the end of the scoring however and John Swift who is in excellent form this season was not to be left out of the scoring and after good strength and skill form Loftus-Cheek Swift found himself in the box with his back to goal but with some wonderful footwork and in one swift (excuse the pun) move he beat his man and curled the ball straight into the top corner.

That was the last game of the year and this half of a season has been a very good one for the U21's but this is the time of year when the team tends to change as more players get their chance for loan moves, but there is a very strong group of players here and i am sure the rest of the season will be just as impresisive. Highlights of the U21's game is here:

In other news there was the draw for the knock out stages of the UEFA Youth League and Chelsea have been drawn against AC Milan. Unlike the first team the knock out stage of this competition is only over 1 leg not too and Chelsea have been drawn at home as they finished top of their group. Should Chelsea progress they will face either Real Sociedad or Schalke in the quarter finals.

There has also been confirmation of the date for the next round of the U21's cup game against West Ham which has now been confirmed as being played on Monday 6th January 2014 at Aldershot Town. Finally the U18's are in final action of the year today as they host Reading at Cobham and then it will be a break until the new year in the academy.

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