It took a stoppage-time equaliser for the second week in a row, but Chelsea remain unbeaten in Development Squad action so far this season, as they came from behind to claim a point in another 2-2 draw.
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Last Friday in Manchester, it was Billy Gilmour and Marc Guehi with the late heroics to frustrate City. In front of 1,215 supporters in the first game at Aldershot’s EBB Stadium this term, Clinton Mola and Tariq Lamptey turned up when it mattered most, the latter crashing home a 94th-minute leveler that their play might not have warranted, but their work ethic and commitment certainly did.
That’s been a developing theme over the first month of this nascent new year; manager Andy Myers knows his young charges won’t shirk a battle, and they’ll give him whatever they’ve got. And they’re getting younger. Without Billy Gilmour and Ian Maatsen, and with Juan Castillo departing for Ajax on loan, this was a particularly inexperienced team even with Antonio Rüdiger continuing his comeback from injury.
Henry Lawrence made his full debut at left-back, which is arguably his fourth or fifth best position, while Thierno Ballo did likewise in attack. Fellow second-years Marcel Lewis and Armando Broja came off the bench during the second half, leaving the Blues with four 17 year-olds on the pitch at the final whistle.
The unexpected boost in attendance meant some supporters were still queuing outside when Phoenix Patterson swept Spurs into an early lead, but everyone will have seen Harvey White extend that advantage from the penalty spot after Lamptey had quite clearly tripped Shilow Tracey. Tottenham were good value for the two-goal head start too, as their midfield rotation and fluidity kept Chelsea at an arm’s length, confidently enjoying the best of the first half.
The Blues had opportunities to reduce that deficit, certainly, but they came out of persistence and luck rather than by design, and neither Tino Anjorin nor Charlie Brown could capitalise on the best of them. The story stayed the same after the restart and up until the hour mark, when things finally began to click, and they started to look more like their usual selves.
That was partly because Tottenham showed no inclination to attack, instead choosing to sit deep and invite Chelsea on to them, something the hosts were more than happy to do. Tariq Uwakwe’s powerful strike on the turn drew a good save from Alfie Whiteman before Mola lit the touch paper. Charging through the middle of the pitch, shrugging foes in white shirts off at every turn, he finished his muscular 40-yard burst with a low shot into the back of the net to give his team something to work with.
A second goal still looked improbable, though, as both Anjorin and Brown were replaced having nothing left in the tank. Rüdiger had a header cleared off the line, Guehi went close himself, but Spurs might have put the game to bed in the final minute of the scheduled ninety when Tracey burst away, only for Cumming to make what would turn out to be a save of tremendous importance.
For, in the fourth minute of stoppage time, Lamptey struck. It was appropriate that he joined Mola on the score sheet, as the duo carried the team over the line with their efforts, and it was his presence of mind to come back inside onto his weaker left foot that gave him just enough room to find the bottom corner, claim a share of the spoils, and keep the unbeaten run going.
Chelsea: Cumming, Lamptey, Rüdiger, Guehi (c), Lawrence, Mola, Ballo, McEachran, Brown (Broja 82), Anjorin (Lewis 79), Uwakwe
Subs not Used: Lavinier, Žiger, Wakely
Goals: Mola 71, Lamptey 90+4
Tottenham Hotspur: Whiteman, Okedina, Hinds, White, Eyoma (c), Lyons-Foster, Patterson (Shashoua 76), Maghoma (Clarke 77), Richards, Oakley-Boothe (Dinzeyi 90), Tracey
Subs not Used: De Bie, Pochettino
Goals: Patterson 11, White 20 (pen)