It’s been a highly productive week for Chelsea’s youngsters as a series of excellent performances have led to some strong results both at home and on the road.
A weekend trip to Manchester to face City in Under-18 and Under-21 league action was sandwiched by a double helping of NextGen Series action against Norwegian champions Molde. Twelve goals later, the Blues have emerged with three wins and a draw from the four games and a whole host of positives.
The Under-18s got the weekend in Manchester off to a flying start with a 2-0 win which kept up their near-perfect record so far this season. With 19 points from a possible 21 on the board, they have almost secured their place in the Elite Group of competition post-Christmas, and as they did in the reverse fixture at Cobham (a 6-1 victory), Adi Viveash’s young charges proved a considerable threat to their young hosts at Platt Lane.
Schoolboy Charlie Colkett scored his second of the season – both coming against City – and George Cole added a second late in a game where the margin of victory might have been even larger had Jesse Starkey not missed a penalty in between the two goals.
On the same pitch some 24 hours later, Dermot Drummy’s Under-21 team recorded just a second victory of the campaign and a first since late August with an impressive performance and a 3-2 scoreline.
Early strikes from Patrick Bamford and Islam Feruz secured a strong foothold and both goals exhibited the excellent link-up play on display between the front four. Billy Clifford provided the inch-perfect pass to release Bamford for the opener, whilst he slipped a ball in for Bamford to backheel into the path of Feruz for the second, which was delightfully lashed home.
City reduced the arrears early in the second half through Marcos Lopes but the two-goal cushion was restored when Bamford’s fiercely-hit cross was deflected home by Greg Leigh for an own goal. Chelsea defender Alex Davey also turned past his own goalkeeper late on to provide a tense finale but the visitors held on for a morale-boosting win.
Many of the squad had endured a long round trip to Norway a few days earlier; a frustrating one to boot as the Under-19 squad barely did themselves justice in a 1-1 draw away to Molde.
Drummy lamented the fact that they didn’t take all three points and instead relied on a late Isak Ssewankambo strike to take a point, and the message was apparently well received ahead of the return fixture on Thursday afternoon, when a riotous outing saw the Norwegians leave Cobham on the wrong side of a 6-0 hiding.
Feruz continued his red-hot personal form with two first half goals, whilst Alex Kiwomya, Reece Mitchell, Lucas Piazon and George Saville all added to the tally in a devastating fifteen-minute spell after the break.
The win leaves the Under-19s with seven points from their four NextGen Series fixtures, two shy of Ajax in second place, with the Dutch team having played the same number of games. CSKA Moscow top the group with 12 points from their completed fixtures and will qualify, meaning the forthcoming home and away series between Ajax and Chelsea will determine who joints them in the knockout rounds.
Finally, congratulations to Josh McEachran and particularly Nathaniel Chalobah on being named in the England Under-21 squad to play Northern Ireland next week. It represents Chalobah’s first selection at this level. A full round-up of all international duty action will be on TheChels.net next week.