Chelsea’s second reserve outing of the summer finished the same way as the first, with another defeat, this time inflicted by Wycombe Wanderers.
A late hat-trick from Jon-Paul Pittman put a heavy dent in the scoreline which didn’t truly reflect the way the match had gone for the most part.
Steve Holland’s side stepped up their level of competition after meeting Conference Premier side Crawley Town last weekend, and the team he selected was indicative of that fact.
With the full Chelsea squad now back in action, it meant second string run-outs for Franco Di Santo, Scott Sinclair, Ryan Bertrand and Jack Cork from those on the fringes of Carlo Ancelotti’s senior party.
They joined five others from Saturday’s meeting, with Billy Clifford replacing Nathaniel Chalobah at right-back. Also making way were Ben Gordon, Josh McEachran, Gokhan Tore, and Daniel Philliskirk, with the latter pair on the bench alongside youth teamers Blackman, Sampayo, and Prosenik.
Wycombe featured a strong line-up ahead of their season opener in just over a week’s time, but there was unfortunately no place for trialist Liam Bridcutt.
It was the visitors who started brightly though, and they seized their first goal of the pre-season after 13 minutes. Sinclair found an opportunity to test goalkeeper Nikki Bull, who pulled off a neat save, but was unable to prevent Kaby from converting the rebound.
It sprang the League Two outfit into action, though, and they began to exert a fair spell of pressure, testing out a young Chelsea back four, three of whom played in the Amsterdam ArenA a week ago.
Now, in the summery evening of Buckinghamshire, they were posed a different challenge, but were unable to prevent an equaliser midway through the first half.
Prolific lower league forward Scott Rendell, a new signing by Gary Waddock, showed the Chairboys supporters what they had on their hands as he steered a neat finish past Sam Walker after Rohan Ince’s block had fallen kindly into his path.
Close to half time, Waddock’s side took the lead they probably deserved after an impressive period when a neat move involving Kieron Murtagh was finished off in terrific fashion by Ben Strevens.
Strevens had already hit the post with a fine effort from the edge of the area, and on another day may have had a hat-trick, as the woodwork would deny him once again with ten minutes left until the break. Ainsworth created the chance with a lovely chipped cross, but the header could only find the frame of the goal.
After a good start, the Blues were going into the changing rooms at the break staring a deficit in the face. It had been the same case at Crawley, and was playing out in a similar fashion here.
Not many would have expected the second half to provide quite what it did though, especially after a rather tame first quarter of an hour.
Philliskirk and Gokhan Tore were introduced into the action to replace Lalkovic and Kaby, and the side adopted more of a 4-1-2-1-2 formation, having started with Di Santo flanked by two wingers.
The Argentinian was once again perhaps disappointing, failing to take advantage of a defence well below his standard of play.
Philliskirk went close to making an immediate impact, but was denied a goal by a last-gasp goal-line clearance from Alan Bennett.
It was a home substitute who would steal the headlines though. Enter American forward Jon-Paul Pittman.
He came on with 25 minutes remaining, and within no time at all had pieced together an astounding four-minute hat-trick.
His first came after an opening was created by former Fulham youngster Kevin Betsy, and before anybody could catch their breath, England Under-19 winger Matt Phillips – back from the European Championship Finals – dazzled the Chelsea defence to lay on a tap-in for Pittman’s second.
The seal was put on the evening with a third minutes later with a sumptuous flick, deftly lobbing the advancing Walker, to leave Chelsea bemused and baffled, and Wycombe riding the crest of a wave.
Further substitutions followed from the home team whilst Chelsea merely tried to get to full time and head back home, tails firmly between their legs.
Sinclair drew a fine stop from the impressive Bull, who had made further saves throughout the evening from Cork and Lalkovic. He was given an ovation with five minutes left as he made way for Steve Arnold.
It’s a second defeat in a row, and whilst the scoreline wasn’t entirely reflective of the difference between the two sides, Wycombe deserved their win.
That being said, it is important to consider the players who remain unavailable to Holland, and with seven teenagers in the starting eleven, it was going to be a tough evening.
Perhaps the most disappointing aspect was the play of the four ‘senior’ players, who failed to perform as you may have expected, pre-season or not.
Everyone will be hoping for better in their final pre-season match, away to Woking on August 4th.
Team: Walker, B.Clifford, Ince, Deen-Conteh, Bertrand, Cork, C.Clifford, Kaby (Gokhan Tore 59), Lalkovic (Philliskirk 59), Sinclair, Di Santo
Subs not used: Blackman, Prosenik, Sampayo
Goals: Kaby ’13
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