Chelsea’s Development Squad came back from a two-goal deficit against Manchester United to claim a point in a 2-2 draw at a rain-soaked Aldershot on Monday evening.
They enjoyed much the better of the contest from start to finish, but a combination of poor finishing and defensive uncertainty saw them fall two goals behind, as Tosin Kehinde and James Wilson struck either side of the break to establish a commanding position for Ricky Sbragia’s visitors. Undeterred, the home team mounted a late comeback, and went home with a deserved share of the spoils courtesy of goals from Isaac Christie-Davies and Callum Hudson-Odoi.
Chelsea showed several changes from their last match against Sunderland, as Marcin Bułka, Richard Nartey, Jake Clarke-Salter and Charly Musonda all made way, with Joe Edwards drafting Jamie Cumming, Joseph Colley, Luke McCormick and Hudson-Odoi into a starting eleven that lined up in a 4-2-3-1 formation for just the second time this season.
Man Utd also made four changes, losing the experience of Luke Shaw as the England defender prepares to make a first-team return, but retaining the likes of Joe Riley and Demetri Mitchell, who have senior appearances to their names under Jose Mourinho at Old Trafford. Their season to date has been a struggle, though, and they found themselves under the cosh from the first minute.
Reece James’ searching ball down the right was collected by Miro Muheim, who cut inside onto his favoured left foot, and unleashed a powerful strike that was saved at the near post by Kieran O’Hara in the Man Utd goal. It set the tone for a first 45 minutes controlled by Chelsea yet they would ultimately find themselves a goal down by the end of it.
McCormick, scorer of a UEFA Youth League hat-trick against Qarabag last week, was in his usual boisterous form, and was involved in a neat move started by Muheim that should have culminated in a goal for Christie-Davies, but the 19 year-old couldn’t hit the target from close range. McCormick then tried to find Muheim with a cross from the left, but Tyrell Warren did just enough to put the forward off his header.
Hudson-Odoi had largely been on the periphery of the contest for the opening quarter of an hour, but exploded into life shortly afterwards, and was only denied a sensational solo strike by the width of the goalpost. Turning away from two United defenders on the left, he roared away from Warren and DJ Buffonge before sliding a shot past O’Hara only to see it come back off the frame of the goal.
It was that sort of evening for the Blues. McCormick was an inch or two short of connecting with a deep ball in from Hudson-Odoi next, whilst both James and Joseph Colley had almost-but-not-quite moments from consecutive set pieces. And, when Hudson-Odoi managed to spoon a volley straight back to James, who had crossed from some 30 yards away on the right, the hosts might have been wondering if it was to be their night.
Kehinde opened the scoring seven minutes before the break with a gem of a finish from the edge of the area, turning and bending a lovely effort beyond the despairing dive of Jamie Cumming, who until that point had had precious little to do. Wilson ensured he would have more to do shortly afterwards, but even late in the half it was Chelsea who looked the more threatening, right up to O’Hara’s save from Hudson-Odoi’s free kick, with Josh Grant unable to turn the rebound towards goal.
With the rain chucking down in the second half, Edwards’ youngsters looked to pick up where they let off, but that unfortunately also included their profligacy in front of goal. Jacob Maddox spooned a shot over, Christie-Davies’ header was too tall and, once again, they were left to rue their mistakes moments later.
The visitors put together a strong passage of play that initially saw Cumming keep out Wilson’s header with a very good save down to his left, but the United number nine wasn’t to be denied, getting it right with his next opportunity as he rose highest from Buffonge’s corner and nodded home emphatically from inside the six yard box to make it 2-0.
Hudson-Odoi had a big shout for a penalty fall on deaf ears when, despite being clear on goal, he went down under the attentions of Matthew Olosunde, but just as it looked as if Chelsea had given up the ghost, it was game on again. Christie-Davies produced the composed finish at the near post to finally beat O’Hara but it was all about Hudson-Odoi’s exquisite back heel that opened the United defence up completely.
The Reds, toiling at the back for much of the evening, grew tired whilst Chelsea introduced fresh legs from the bench, and it was a new arrival in Charlie Brown who so nearly created the equaliser as his ball across the face of goal presented Christie-Davies with a tap-in only for Olosunde to make a timely intervention to clear his lines.
The American went from hero to villain though, fluffing his lines minutes later to allow Hudson-Odoi to steal in behind, and this time he held off Warren long enough to find the finish that had eluded him all night and make it all square at 2-2. It needn’t have been the end of the action either, with James lashing wide and both teams exchanging counter-attacks on a heavily-saturated pitch that only encouraged mistakes, but the Blues will have gone home happy having mounted a comeback to earn a point.
Chelsea: Cumming, James, Chalobah, Colley (C.Dasilva 70), Grant, Sammut ©, Christie-Davies, McCormick, Muheim (Brown 67), Hudson-Odoi (McEachran 90), Maddox
Subs not Used: Bułka, Suljic
Goal: Christie-Davies ’72, Hudson-Odoi ‘83
Manchester United: O’Hara, Riley ©, Mitchell, Warren, Olosunde, Whelan, Dearnley, Hamilton, Wilson (Bohui 79), Buffonge (Boonen 79), Kehinde (Kenyon 84)
Subs not Used: Richardson, Sang
Goal: Kehinde ’38, Wilson ‘55