There may have been no goals in last night’s Under-21 clash between Chelsea and Manchester City, but their respective Under-18s served up plenty on Saturday morning.
The Blues ran out 6-1 winners in emphatic style, with six different players finding the back of the net.
Reece Mitchell, Jordan Houghton, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Jeremie Boga, Charlie Colkett and Fankaty Dabo all got themselves in on the act on a wonderful morning for the team.
Loftus-Cheek started after a substitute appearance at Brentford last night, as did fellow Under-21 players John Swift and Alex Kiwomya. There were also places for schoolboys Boga and Connor Hunte in a squad where 15 of the 16 were English.
City were missing one or two faces and had been in midweek action but featured recognisable names in Devante Cole, Jose Pozo, Ashley Smith-Brown and Brandon Barker.
Like their older colleagues, they started well too, with Pozo a constant threat, but Chelsea would end up enjoying the lion’s share of possession throughout and quickly began to dictate things.
The first goal arrived after a quarter of an hour. Kiwomya fed Mitchell, who was rapid on the turn and composed in the finish, slotting confidently beyond Ian Lawlor.
One became two seven minutes later when Hunte delivered a free kick from deep and Houghton snuck in round the back to head home from close range.
The pace on the flanks from Hunte and Kiwomya had been causing all sorts of problems for the visitors, and as they sought to address the problems, they left space inside for a number of handy playmakers to take full advantage.
Not that City were out of the game though, far from it. They enjoyed a strong fifteen minutes before the break where they reduced the deficit and threatened much more.
The goal came through forward Cole, son of ex Premier League striker Andy. Pozo escaped the attentions of Kevin Wright long enough to find space to cut the ball back to the big number nine, who tapped in from six yards.
He could’ve had two more before the break too, but found Mitchell Beeney in inspired form. He kept out two clear-cut openings and smothered a third with the City front man clear on goal, having beaten the offside trap.
Perhaps the threat of being pegged back sharpened the collective Chelsea attention at the interval, because they resumed the action in devastatingly effective fashion.
Loftus-Cheek restored the two-goal advantage with an exquisite finish, almost passing it beyond Lawlor after linking up nicely with Hunte.
With confidence now blooming, everyone wanted a piece of the action and Boga was next in line, coming alive to thunder one past Lawlor from the edge of the box to make it 4-1.
Loftus-Cheek and Kiwomya were replaced by Ambrose Gnahore and another Under-16 in Colkett and they would have just as much of an impact as those they replaced.
Gnahore showed inventiveness and enthusiasm on the right wing, whilst left-footer schemer Colkett cruised around the pitch with a certain style reminiscent of a recent similar predecessor.
He made it five with a cool finish following Mitchell’s backheel, and the forward’s expert link-up play came to the fore again in the closing moments as he released Dabo, who scored at the second time of asking.
City weren’t necessarily bad and had their chances in the second half, most notably from George Glendon, but they were a little below-par and lacked an imposing presence in the heart of the team.
They were unable to match Chelsea’s work rate and hunger, but most teams would have on this showing. The boys have been eagerly anticipating this match and it thoroughly showed in a resounding victory.
Chelsea: Beeney, Dabo, Muleba, Houghton, Wright, Loftus-Cheek (Colkett 65), Swift (c) (Gordon 75), Boga, Hunte, Kiwomya (Gnahore 60), Mitchell
Subs not Used: Killip, Conroy
Goals: Mitchell, Houghton, Loftus-Cheek, Boga, Colkett, Dabo