With a month between competitive reserve fixtures and an Under-17 friendly cancelled at the last minute, Chelsea’s academy staff arranged some much-needed playing time for their players this week in the form of a mixed youth and reserve team friendly match at Cobham.
Dermot Drummy’s reserve team haven’t played since the last week of August when Blackburn Rovers held them to a 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge, and whilst Adie Viveash’ young charges have had more playing time, a scheduled friendly on Tuesday against Nottingham Forest fell through when the visitors forgot to turn up.
So the two groups, with an additional smattering of promising schoolboy prospects, were split into relatively balanced teams and played three 30-minute periods of what proved to be entertaining football, with Team Black coming back from 2-0 down to win 5-3.
Conor Clifford opened the scoring from the penalty spot with a cheekily chipped effort beating Jamal Blackman after George Saville had been fouled by Alex Davey, and after the young defender went off injured, Saville made it 2-0 with a nice solo run and finish.
The boys wearing the club’s away kit reduced the deficit when Czech forward Dominik Mašek pounced on a loose ball in the area to rifle past Rhys Taylor. The 16 year-old also netted in a match against Watford’s Under-17s last week and is set to officially complete his transfer to the club from FK Pribram in the near future.
Scorer turned provider when Mašek dribbled through and rounded Taylor before laying the ball on a plate for Anjur Osmanovic to level proceedings.
Todd Kane gave Team Blue the lead again with a typically emphatic finish after a trademark marauding run into attack on the blind side of the play, but the slightly younger Team Black charges showed their resolve and drew level again when Islam Feruz rose highest to nod home from close range.
Feruz has completed his move from Celtic having turned 16 last weekend, and whilst he officially remains a schoolboy for the coming season, he will expect to see plenty of playing time in the Under-18 setup.
Billy Clifford celebrated a new four-year contract by putting Team Black into the lead for the first time and Osmanovic rounded off the scoring late on as he broke clear and rounded Taylor for his second of the afternoon.
Whilst such exercises can never truly replicate the intensity and importance of competitive fixtures, they are nonetheless intriguing affairs for club staff looking to see how certain players handle themselves, and are both fun and challenging for the participants, who rarely feature against one another.
The Under-18s are back in competitive action on Saturday morning against Watford, whilst the reserves return to the field in the final week of September.