Under-18s: Chelsea 2-1 Liverpool

Chelsea maintained their perfect record at Under-18 level this season with a come-from-behind win over Liverpool on Saturday morning. 

The visitors has taken an early second half lead through Daniel Trickett-Smith but the Blues responded well and turned the game around with goals from Jordan Houghton and Alex Kiwomya to win 2-1. 

As has been the case already this season, Adi Viveash rotated his ample squad and included Andreas Christensen for the first time. Defender Fankaty Dabo was used in an advanced wide role, whilst Tom Howard played in an unfamiliar position on the left. 

Liverpool, like their Under-21 team the night before, adopted a 4-2-3-1 formation and based everything around their pairing of Yalany Baio and captain Jordan Lussey. 

It would prove to be a rather tame first half, with the hosts generally on top and looking to seize the initiative. Much of their best early play came through Reece Mitchell, who was lined up in a more central role and took it upon himself to drive at the heart of the Liverpool defence. 

He had a handful of sights of goal but was unable to find a way past Ryan Fulton, a trend which would inflict many of his teammates for much of the game. 

Dabo proved lively in his attacking duties and provided good quality crosses, but neither Mitchell nor Kiwomya could get on the end of them. He also twice went close at the other end, first with a left-footed curler and then with a free-kick. 

At the other end, Mitchell Beeney was having a quieter time of it, with Liverpool striker Jerome Sinclair well marshalled by Christensen and Dion Conroy. 

Attacking midfielders Trickett-Smith and Kristofer Peterson looked capable of producing a decisive moment and early in the second half it was the former of the pair who did just that in giving his team the lead. 

The former Crewe man, who scored at the same end for his former club last season, took off on a mazy dribble before composing himself enough to calmly stroke the ball beyond Beeney. 

Viveash, who had replaced captain John Swift and full-back Adam Nditi at the break with Houghton and Kevin Wright, immediately shuffled his pack again with the introduction of Charlie Colkett for debutant Christensen. 

He adjusted his personnel and pushed new skipper Houghton into an even more advanced position, with Colkett operating in his favourite midfield role linking the play together. 

The visitors sought to take full control during their best spell but Beeney was able to save from Sinclair before Trickett-Smith was denied a second by the linesman, who flagged for offside. 

Chances continued to fall to the hosts but Mitchell still couldn’t find his way through despite his best efforts. Starkey and Howard also had chances before the equaliser finally arrived. 

It came from Houghton, who continued his fine run in front of goal by heading home from Howard’s corner. 

Moments later, the turnaround was complete when Kiwomya finished off a smart move involving substitutes Houghton and Colkett. Liverpool had stopped expecting an offside call against the goalscorer, but it didn’t come and they found themselves behind. 

The Reds’ pressing game, effective in the first half, had been negated by Chelsea as they increased their range of passing after the break. Muleba in particular was keen to switch the ball to the left, where Wright and Mitchell made great gains. 

The closing stages saw Chelsea more likely to add to the score, with their patience and ball retention opening up space as Liverpool gambled to get back into the game. Howard, Houghton and Kiwomya all saw chances go begging, whilst Mitchell still couldn’t find the goal he deserved. 

The youngsters held on for another three points which sees them keep pace with neighbours Fulham atop Group C. 

Team: Beeney, Muleba, Conroy, Christensen (Colkett 60), Nditi (Wright 45), Starkey, Swift (c) (Houghton 45), Mitchell, Dabo, Howard, Kiwomya
Subs not Used: Killip, Gordon

Goals: Houghton, Kiwomya