Chelsea’s first win of the 2011-12 academy league season came in style as a second half hat-trick from schoolboy substitute Alex Kiwomya helped the Blues to a 6-2 victory over Birmingham City
Anjur Osmanovic had given the hosts an early lead but sloppy defending allowed the visitors to turn the game around. Adie Viveash’s boys scored five unanswered goals in response to record an emphatic win.
Viveash was able to call upon some more experienced names for this week’s fixture, including Jamal Blackman, Todd Kane, Rohan Ince and George Saville with no reserve fixture on the schedule for most of September.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek moved into his more familiar midfield role whilst Ismail Seremba started in attack, with Walter Figueira absent having suffered a potentially serious injury last weekend.
Chelsea began quickly with a lot of early possession, and quickly converted it into something tangible. Quick feet on the edge of the box from Swedish midfielder Osmanovic carved out a shooting opportunity, and the ball looped into the top corner to make it 1-0.
The goal may have taken a deflection en route but Osmanovic will be claiming it as his first goal in Under-18 football.
The goal gave the team even more assurance about their play and they were generally well in control, although Birmingham’s attack certainly didn’t lack pace and they were a threat on the break.
Seremba went close with a shot which definitely took a deflection, whilst Saville chanced his arm from distance with an attempt which went wide.
Lewis Baker, as he was last week against Crewe, was central to all of Chelsea’s midfield creativity, but the final ball was just lacking on occasion as the visiting defence were just able to clear their lines in time.
Instead, Birmingham equalised against the run of play by taking advantage of slack home defending. Bradley Gascoigne intercepted a ball in midfield and with Chelsea playing a high defensive line, was able to stride forward clear on goal.
He picked his spot from the edge of the box and left Blackman with no chance, sending an arrow into the bottom corner.
It sparked Kristjaan Speakman’s charges into life and mistakes began to creep into Chelsea’s play. By the time the half time whistle arrived the Blues will have been relieved to have been on terms, as their opponents spurned a major chance with another clear run on goal caused by confusion between Ince and Saville at the back.
Viveash made one change at the interval, and it would prove to be a telling one. Kiwomya entered the fray in replace of Tom Howard and played as the lead striker, with Seremba moving out to the right.
His impact would have to wait though, as another catastrophe at the back handed Birmingham the lead. Chelsea conceded possession on the halfway line and allowed the diminutive number seven to run clear on goal and nutmeg Blackman to put his team 2-1 up.
Neither Ince nor Saville had looked particularly comfortable in the heart of the defence but with both having had plenty of experience there, perhaps it was just a bad day at the office.
It wasn’t ultimately to matter however, with parity being restored almost instantly. Seremba played a quick one-two with Kiwomya and found himself with the chance to equalise, one he took with aplomb.
It was an important moment, one which swung the momentum back in Chelsea’s favour and ensured that Birmingham weren’t able to build on their lead, although the Blues tried their best to allow them back in front with more poor defending which resulted in a long range effort flying wide of Blackman’s unguarded net.
Loftus-Cheek and Seremba both drew smart stops from an in-form Birmingham goalkeeper but it was left to Kane to find the breakthrough with yet another goal from right back.
Played in by a smart backheel by Osmanovic, Kane advanced into the box and with the defence backing off, he simply carried it into the six yard box and slotted home at the near post for one of the easier goals he will ever score.
Perhaps Birmingham were not familiar with his goalscoring prowess but in backing off for what they thought was a cross, they allowed a dangerous finisher too much time and space to take full advantage of.
Three became four minutes later as Kiwomya scored his maiden goal at this level. An inch perfect first time pass from Loftus Cheek found the angled run of his forward, who was able to gather and finish in the same movement to double the lead.
It was enough to break Birmingham’s spirit and the remainder of the contest was almost like shooting at fish in a barrel for Chelsea. Players lined up at will to try and add to the scoreline against a young team who were tiring, and further goalmouth action was in plentiful supply.
Kiwomya’s second and his team’s fifth came about in fortunate fasion as Osmanovic’s pass hit him and fell kindly, but the quality of the finish was that of a player far more experienced and accomplished than the teenager that delivered it.
Swift’s influence was growing as he, Baker and Loftus-Cheek linked up on a regular basis which saw some lovely football being played.
The trio combined to give Kiwomya a chance of a third but he was denied by yet another smart stop by a goalkeeper who was very much bailing his team out by this stage.
Nditi smashed a shot high over the target whilst Saville curled a slow arcing one onto the crossbar from fully thirty yards before Kiwomya put the cherry on the cake by completing his treble.
Davey picked him out with a raking long pass which allowed him to take it into his stride and smash home to make the final scoreline 6-2 in Chelsea’s favour.
It was far from a perfect performance from the hosts and indeed, the final tally was harsh on a Birmingham side who simply tired later in the game, but the ruthless nature with which Chelsea sought further goals was the sign of a young team with burgeoning talent looking to make their mark.
In a team littered with more experience, it was instead first-years Baker and Swift and schoolboys Loftus-Cheek and Kiwomya who impressed most in what was overall a fine day for Viveash’s team.
Team: Blackman (c), Kane, Ince (Gordon 65), Saville, Nditi, Loftus-Cheek, Swift, Osmanovic, Howard (Kiwomya 45) Baker, Seremba (Davey 85)
Goals: Osmanovic ’11, Seremba ’55, Kane ’70, Kiwomya ’72, ’81, ‘89