Chelsea’s Reserve team recorded their first win of pre-season with a 3-0 victory over Blue Square South outfit Hampton & Richmond Borough on Saturday afternoon.
A brace from Adam Phillip followed Philipp Prosenik’s opener in what was an impressive display from Dermot Drummy’s boys.
Following a 6-1 reverse at Crawley Town a fortnight ago, the group took in a week of training in Austria which culminated in a fixture against 1860 Munich.
The boys drew 2-2 against their German opponents and in their third outing ahead of the new campaign, looked much the better side in sweltering conditions.
Drummy’s squad was bolstered by the return of ‘senior’ reserve team players Milan Lalkovic, Carl Magnay and Kaby, who were all involved with the first team for the first week of the summer, whilst Conor Clifford returned from injury.
Making way from the Crawley fixture were Archange Nkumu, Mesca, Alex Davey and Lewis Baker, whilst schoolboy goalkeeper Mitchell Beeney served as Rhys Taylor’s backup with Jamal Blackman still away in Hong Kong.
There was another start for captain Sam Hutchinson at centre-back, and it didn’t take the Blues long to assert themselves over their opponents.
Early chances came and went for Prosenik and Phillip, whilst Welsh stopper Taylor threatened to hand the Beavers the lead when failing to claim a long free kick, but the finish was blazed high over the gaping goal.
Instead, Chelsea took the lead after a quarter of an hour when Prosenik latched onto a glorious long ball from Hutchinson and deftly finished to leave Rodney Chiwesne with no chance.
One quickly became two when Chiwesne fouled Lalkovic having failed to hold onto Phillip’s dipping free kick.
Phillip strode up and dispatched his spot kick to the goalkeeper’s right and doubled Chelsea’s lead.
A second penalty was awarded before half an hour was on the clock as Aziz Deen-Conteh’s marauding run was brought to a halt by an unceremonious shove, but Jacob Mellis was unable to follow Phillip’s lead, seeing his poor effort stopped by Chiwesne low to his left.
Hampton threatened briefly before half time but it was a game almost entirely controlled by Chelsea, who adopted something of a 4-2-3-1 formation. Kaby was given license to play in the space behind Prosenik, whilst Clifford and Mellis held court in the middle of the pitch.
Clifford, making his first appearance since summer surgery, was in imperious form, dominating in all phases and carrying a real influence over affairs.
Marko Mitrovic replaced Austrian forward Prosenik at the break in what was the first of five total changes Drummy would make.
The hosts made eight all at once but were soon forced to bring one of the replaced players back on as injury struck. Their response after the restart had been impressive, with more of a commitment to press Chelsea and take the game to the visitors.
Taylor was drawn into action to save well down low to his right, but the action swung to the other end as Phillip was denied and normal service quickly resumed.
The third goal arrived around the hour mark when Phillip thundered in his second of the afternoon after fine work down the right from Lalkovic.
The Slovakian had been sprung clear by another raking pass from Hutchinson, and the finish capped a fine counter attack for the Blues.
Indeed, some of their quick passing and transitional play was impressive, and whilst some will have played well above the level of the opposition, it was still refreshing to see them execute their gameplan with verve and confidence.
Kaby and Clifford fired over from distance before a series of replacements followed. Magnay made way for George Saville at centre-back, whilst Deen-Conteh was afforded a breather as Adam Nditi relieved him at left back.
Phillip was in hat-trick hunting form and drew Hampton’s replacement goalkeeper into action before James Ashton entered the fray for the irrepressible Lalkovic.
Schoolboy goalie Beeney saw ten minutes himself, but was left with little to do as Chelsea sought more goals in the closing stages.
Mitrovic will be disappointed not to have added his name to the scoresheet when he failed to finish a clear one on one opportunity, whilst Clifford’s free kick was easily snaffled in the centre of the goal.
Chelsea will be happy with their win, not just for the scoreline but for the positive way in which they played. They were confident and composed from back to front and showed an improvement from last time out.
They complete their pre-season schedule next Saturday afternoon away to Bromley, with kickoff at Hayes Lane set for 3pm.
Team: Taylor (Beeney 80), Kane, Hutchinson (c), Magnay (Saville 65), Deen-Conteh (Nditi 60) Clifford, Mellis, Kaby, Lalkovic (Ashton 75), Phillip, Prosenik (Mitrovic 45)
Goals: Prosenik 14, Phillip 20 pen, 56
A selection of pictures from the match may be viewed HERE.