Chelsea’s Under-18s returned to league action after a week off and retained their 100% start with a 2-0 win over Wolves at Cobham.
Second half goals from captain John Swift and forward Islam Feruz secured a deserved three points against a solid Wolves team determined to bounce back from a 7-1 hiding at Fulham last weekend.
Such is the depth available to coach Adi Viveash, only Jon Muleba, Kevin Wright, Jordan Houghton, Reece Mitchell and goalscorer Swift retained their starting berths from the 6-1 win over Manchester City.
International calls, Under-21 involvement and injury meant starts for Ben Killip, Dion Gordon, Ambrose Gnahore, Feruz, Isak Ssewankambo and birthday boy Jesse Starkey.
First half chances were at a premium with Wolves asserting themselves physically and intelligently. They played with a good shape and intensity, pressing the play and using giant striker Ibrahim Keita as their out ball.
The Frenchman had one or two openings where his finishing let him down but he was otherwise well shackled by the smaller Houghton.
At the other end, Feruz was shaking off a little ring rust after a spell on the sidelines through injury but drew the best save of the opening 45 minutes in forcing the Wolves goalkeeper to fly low to his right to keep out a placed effort.
He struggled to shake the attentions of a much bigger centre half and Wolves did well to keep his supply at a premium; forcing widemen Gnahore and Mitchell to play much of their game on the periphery.
Things changed early in the second half when Chelsea’s most experienced player began to dictate things. Swift struggled in the first half and was rarely close to his usual best but after some words of encouragement from Viveash, he had a massive impact on proceedings.
He opened the scoring shortly before the hour not long after Feruz and Mitchell had gone close themselves. Where they couldn’t, Swift could as he burst past a man and rifled low into the bottom corner from just inside the box.
It was galling for the visitors, who were inches away from a goal within a minute of the restart. Keita’s towering header from a corner was cleared off the line by Starkey, and set pieces were to prove particularly troublesome for the Blues throughout.
Starkey repeated the feat not long after, with Keita again the man denied. He must have known it wasn’t to be his day when the follow-up was well saved by Killip.
Viveash was restricted in his options to introduce changes by injuries to Houghton and later in the game Wright, and with Conroy made way for Ali Gordon too, Muleba was the only starting defender to finish the game.
Tom Howard proved an effective introduction for the second half with his composure and measured approach meshing well with Starkey and Swift.
The longer the game went, the more likely it was that Chelsea would add to their tally. One shot from well out exploded off Feruz’s foot to draw a neat save, whilst Starkey’s improvised flick came back off the crossbar.
Feruz would eventually seal the deal just over ten minutes from time, thieving the ball from the full-back out on the left wing before slotting home confidently.
Wolves will rue that they didn’t convert from several set-piece opportunities but will also return home knowing they were well beaten by a Chelsea team that weren’t at their best but played well for long spells and benefitted from strong displays by Reece Mitchell in particular, but also from both goalscorers and the central core of the team.
Chelsea: Killip, Muleba, Conroy (Gordon), Houghton (Howard), Wright (Figueira), Ssewankambo, Swift (c), Starkey, Mitchell, Gnahore, Feruz
Subs not Used: Collins, Cole
Goals: Swift, Feruz