Chelsea’s Under-18 team rounded out their home campaign for 2011-12 with a second consecutive goalless draw against Aston Villa.
In a match of few real chances and little incident, a point apiece was a fair result and both sides were able to offer further opportunities to younger players.
Under-16s Mitchell Beeney and Dion Conroy started for the hosts whilst Adi Viveash was able to welcome back Archange Nkumu from injury. Amin Affane and Islam Feruz both played for the first time since scoring at Old Trafford in the FA Youth Cup.
The visitors featured some rather small players but were into their stride first, with a Charlie Ward free kick dropping just wide and a Daniel Williams header straight at Beeney, but such moments were scarce throughout.
Chelsea struggled to break through a compact and well disciplined opposition, particularly in the midfield area. Villa pressed well and closed space at all times, forcing the Blues backwards or into mistakes.
It took some half an hour for them to conjure up an opening but when they did so it came from a delicious passage of play which ended with Feruz wasting a glorious chance at the far post after Affane had crossed.
Both sides struck the woodwork before the half time whistle as Affane saw his free kick tipped into the post whilst Villa defender Donacien clipped the crossbar from a corner won after Ward had forced a fine save from Beeney.
In an attempt to add some more verve and liveliness to the Chelsea attack, Viveash introduced Walter Figueira and Ismail Seremba at the break and they would have their moments later in the match.
Beeney was once again alert to tip Lewis Kinsella’s free kick away to safety as the second half took on the same feel as the first.
The flow of the game was rarely helped by the regular intervention of the referee who, whilst generally correct to the letter of the law, was often too quick to whistle and often prevented quicker restarts.
Lewis Baker once again looked to lead the charge from midfield but struggled to find space in between clusters of claret shirts. Most impressively, however, he was dogged and relentless in his attempts to win possession back.
Figueira had a late opening but fluffed his lines whilst a fine move saw Seremba volley towards goal only to be denied by a block on the line.
Fankaty Dabo saw time in the closing moments, which meant Danny Stenning remained on the bench. It was the midfielder’s first matchday involvement in over a year after suffering a serious knee injury against MK Dons in March 2011.
Late pressure from the Blues saw little reward despite some good endeavour down the flanks but the last effort on target came courtesy of Villa’s Ward. His exceptionally ambitious shot from 40 yards summed up affairs on a day when defences were on top.
Chelsea will finish up their league campaign away to Cardiff and then Ipswich, whilst the FA Youth Cup is also very much to play for as another season draws to an exciting climax.
Chelsea: Beeney, Bangura, Nkumu (c), Conroy, Nditi, Ashton (Dabo 75), Baker, Osmanovic (Figueira 45), Affane, Howard, Feruz (Seremba 45)