Chelsea’s Under-18s returned to winning ways on Saturday with a 3-0 win away to Brighton & Hove Albion in the Under-18 Premier League Cup.
Daishawn Redan and Marc Guehi each found the back of the net at the end of a somewhat turgid first half, whilst Charlie Brown added to the tally shortly before the hour mark, as the Blues bounced back from a woeful 4-0 defeat at Southampton in their previous fixture.
Jody Morris welcomed World Cup winners Guehi, Jonathan Panzo, Conor Gallagher and George McEachran back into the fold after a month away with England, whilst Croatian goalkeeper Karlo Žiger was handed his first appearance of the season at the back, in what looked to be a strong starting eleven on paper.
In wet and windy Lancing, however, it took both teams a long time to get going, and there was a discernable lack of quality for long spells in the first half. Chelsea threatened sporadically, with Brown dragging wide when well-positioned, before the same player caught Brighton goalkeeper George Bentley in possession and created an opening that Billy Gilmour couldn’t take advantage of.
The hosts were hardly able to conjure up more themselves, but they did produce the best moment by some way late in the first 45 minutes when Alex Cochrane curled a lovely effort towards goal, but Žiger produced a fine save to push the ball away from the top corner and behind for a corner.
With attentions turning towards the interval, Chelsea pounced twice in as many minutes to take full control of proceedings. Redan thundered home from close range to make it 1-0 after good work down the right, before Guehi – scorer of a World Cup Final goal a week earlier, got the final touch to Gilmour’s inswinging free-kick moments later, with Gallagher helping the ball on its way.
Brighton were a little sharper after the restart, with big forward Stefan Ljubicic a handful as usual, but they were unable to make the best of their limited openings, and Chelsea duly punished them for it. Žiger dealt well with Hamish Morrison’s cross, and the Seagulls posed a threat from the ensuing corner, but instead of being back in with a shout at 1-2, they were soon 3-0 down instead.
Redan was at the heart of it on a day where he was unplayable at times; the Dutchman roared his way down the left with power and pace aplenty, leaving blue and white shirts in his wake, before sliding over a cross for Brown to finish into the unguarded goalnet.
The rest of the match was Chelsea’s for the taking. Tariq Uwakwe almost scored direct from a corner, whilst substitutes Clinton Mola and Martell Taylor-Crossdale each could have done better from the edge of the area. Brown dragged wide after cutting a mazy path into the penalty area, and Redan tore off on another bulldozing streak down the left only to sidefoot his shot agonisingly wide of the far post.
Brighton came on again late in the day, and almost had a consolation when Žiger allowed Ryan Longman’s speculative delivery to escape his clutches, but Tariq Lamptey was on the line to hook the ball to safety and preserve the clean sheet.
Chelsea now sit atop of their Premier League Cup group on four points, whilst these two teams will now reconvene at Cobham in a fortnight for league action.
Brighton: Bentley, Morrison, Kone (Tutt), Araujo, Shihab, Roberts, Longman, Cochrane, Ljubicic, Cashman (Onen), Hutchinson (Ibeh)
Chelsea: Žiger, Lamptey, Guehi, Wakely, Panzo (Castillo), Gallagher (c), Gilmour, Uwakwe, Redan, McEachran (Mola), Brown (Taylor-Crossdale)
Subs not Used: Tié, Lavinier
Goals: Redan, Guehi, Brown