Chelsea’s unbeaten start to the 2010/11 reserve campaign came to a crashing halt on Monday evening at AFC Telford’s New Bucks Head.
A rampant first half from Wolves led the way to a 4-0 demolition of Steve Holland’s side, which featured more experience and talent than had been available so far this season.
Despite expecting a young team, similar to the one used against West Brom in a remarkable 5-4 win last time out, the Blues’ second string coach was able to include Gael Kakuta, Patrick van Aanholt and Jeffrey Bruma in his starting eleven.
There was no place for five goal hero Fabio Borini, who was suffering with a shoulder injury, but the team was subject to change moments before kickoff.
Jan Sebek suffered an injury during the warmup and was forced to pull out very late in the day, meaning that 17 year-old youth team goalkeeper Jamal Blackman made his competitive reserve team debut after being involved over the summer.
He was picking the ball out of his net inside thirty seconds though. Having made a fine save to deny the first attempt, he was helpless to deny Sam Winnall on the rebound for the first of what was to turn out to be a superb night for the young Wolves forward.
In response, the Dutch pair of Bruma and van Aanholt – the latter captain on the evening – had shots at goal, but neither threatened McCarey in the Wolves goal and instead, it was 2-0 midway through the first half.
This time it was Nathan Rooney who beat Blackman, leaving the recent England Under-18 call-up with absolutely no chance as the Blues defence went missing again.
Blackman remained the busier of the two stoppers for the duration of the first half and despite some brief resistance when Adam Phillip went close with a header, Winnall made it 3-0 on 37 minutes with his second of the evening.
He almost completed a first-half hat-trick, just failing to connect with a cross at the far post. Chelsea had been defending far too deep, inviting an energetic Wolves team onto them, and allowed them to be rampant in the final third.
Welsh youngster Jake Cassidy had two bites at the cherry to add to the scoreline before the sides retreated to the dressing rooms, with only Blackman emerging from the destruction with any real credit.
Things were to get even worse early in the second half when the Blues lost their second injury casualty of the evening.
Rohan Ince went over badly on his ankle and was immediately in trouble, requiring a stretcher to remove him from the field. He was replaced by Michael Woods, with 15 year-old Nathaniel Chalobah dropping back to partner Bruma in the heart of the defence.
It was a more sturdy Chelsea side which had emerged for the restart, determined to put in a better showing, and they sought about grabbing at least a consolation.
Bruma had what would turn out to be their only shot on target of the match, whilst a better touch from Woods would have ensured a chance on a breakaway.
The midfielder had added a spark to a midfield which had been below-par for much of the match, particularly from the usually effervescent Jacob Mellis, but the performance was to no avail as Winnall completed his hat-trick shortly after the hour.
It came from the penalty spot after Kaby had felled the two-goal hero. He dusted himself off to beat Blackman for the third time and make the scoreline 4-0 to Wolves.
Ben Sampayo and Daniel Philliskirk entered the game in relief of the entirely ineffectual Gael Kakuta and Bruma, but with the game long since over as a contest, the remaining minutes petered out with very little noteworthy action.
It’s a disappointing way for a good start to the season to end, particularly with the players involved, and whilst the second half was an improvement, it will be the performance which will disappoint Steve Holland the most.
It smacked of a very typical mid-season reserve team outing – in front of less than 1,000 fans on a dark and cold night, certain players struggled to get into the game. Whilst it’s important to remember that each and every player is still developing as a footballer, such off nights need to be eradicated, and that will be a focal point going forward.
Blackman deserves credit as the Blues’ man of the match on his first start at this level. He looked capable and dealt with a number of situations well, and could do nothing about the four goals.
If nothing else, the club’s goalkeeping future is in very good hands.
Team: Blackman, B.Clifford, Ince (Woods 55), Bruma (Sampayo 63), van Aanholt (c), Chalobah, Kaby, Mellis, Sala, Kakuta (Philliskirk 63), Phillip
Subs Not Used: Saville, Devyne