Academy Report: U21's Cup Progress
There was a rare occurrence this week at Chelsea's academy in that there were 3 games to pla...
There was a rare occurrence this week at Chelsea's academy in that there were 3 games to play this week one U18's game and two U21's games and there was a full mixture of results to come out of those 3 games.
The week kicked off with the U18's playing away to Leicester. As always it was a fairly young team with Collins in goal, a back four of Aina, Brady, Muleba and Da Silva. The midfield consisted of Conroy Cole and Ali and the forward line of Solanke, Mitchell and Gnahore. The management team were expected a physical game against older and bigger opposition and that is exactly what they got.
However things started out pretty well for Chelsea as they took the lead through 16 year old Mukhtar Ali who did well to work space for himself inside the penalty area and slot home past the keeper. However things were to get much harder for Chelsea and found themselves back on level terms after some poor defending and then behind after allowing a free header from a free kick.
That was how it would stay despite Chelsea's best efforts to snatch a draw late on. It was Chelsea's third defeat of the season but still leaves them in a very good position in the league.
For the first of the games for the U21's was an away game against Newcastle at St James Park and it was the U21's first league game in a month. It was a now familiar side for Drummy's Blues with Blackman in goal, the back 4 of Dabo, Christensen, Ake and Wright. In midfield was Baker, Swift and Boga and the forward line of Kiwomya, Brown and Feruz. The only real change was to see Loftus-Cheek drop to the bench with Jeremie Boga taking his place in the starting 11. Newcastle was to field a strong team including big names like Obertan and Sammy Ameobi.
It was a game would test Chelsea's bright young talents against strong opposition and they would most certainly give as good as they got. Chelsea would fall behind after 15 minutes but would draw level before half time with a lovely finish from Boga. The second half would see both teams try for the winner but neither being able to get it and the game would finish as 1 - 1 draw which on the whole was a fair result and Drummy was happy with the performance and the experience that his team got from the game.
Last up this week and the U21's were back in action this time however making their first appearance in the newly formed U21's cup. Cardiff were to be the opponents for this first cup outing and the game was played at Cardiff City Stadium. Changes were made to the team as Dermot Drummy took the opportunity to play some players who have not played many games this season. There was a first Chelsea appearance of the season for Danny Pappoe who returned early from his loan spell with Colchester. Also starting was Alex Davey making only his 6th appearance of the season and Adam Nditi making only his 4th. The rest of the team was as expected with Blackman in goal and Ssewankambo making up the back 4, Nathan Ake played in the holding role with Loftus-Cheek and Baker joining him. Playing out wide was John Swift and Brown and Feruz as the cenre forward.
The game started very slow indeed and the first half was a pretty tame affair with very little in the way of chances and lots of mistakes being made by both sides. The only real moment of excitement came on 12 minutes when Isaiah Brown was brought down in the box by a clumsy challenge and the referee awarded Chelsea a penalty and the chance to take the lead. Up stepped Lewis Baker who is deadly from the penalty spot and he showed that quality once more by hitting the ball low and hard right in the bottom corner away from the keeper.
As you would expect once half time came and Dermot Drummy got the chance to talk to his players things would change. Chelsea came out much more energized and pressed hard and in general worked harder to get on top of the game and it did not take long for that hard work to bear fruit some good work by Islam Feruz down the left hand side saw a shot of his cleared off the line by a defender only for hit to hit the back of the keeper and into the back of the net. That was all was needed to give Chelsea the confidence needed to put the game to bed and not 10 minutes later that is exactly what they did. A good ball through by Brown saw Alex Kiwomya race through and get the touch ahead of the defender then his blistering pace meant that he could get to the ball before the keeper and lift it over him and into the net before the chasing back defender could get to it.
So with the game at 3 - 0 and Chelsea in firm control of the game the only question at this point was how many goals would Chelsea score. Unfortunately the answer to that question to be one more and that goal would come from the young Jeremie Boga who running with the ball in that elegant style of his jinked to work his space and then shot hard across the keeper in right into the bottom corner. There would come more chances to take the lead the best of those being a super free kick from Lewis Baker which the keeper would tip onto the bar but there was to be no more goals as the game drew to a close.
It was an excellent performance from the Chelsea boys who will now face an always good West Ham side in the quarter finals.
In other Academy news Chelsea have confirmed that they have released goalkeeper Ben Killip who has joined Norwich and also that Kevin Wright and Alex Kiwomya have signed new contracts with the club so congratulations to them. There is no U18's league fixture this week but there is a return of the FA Youth Cup as Chelsea take on Dartford at Aldershot on Thursday evening and there is also the last group game of the UEFA Youth League as Chelsea look to make it 6 wins out of 6.