Chelsea’s Under-18s lost 4-0 at home to Manchester City on Saturday in a fixture which was played out at that level in name only as the Blues fielded a squad of Under-15 and Under-16 players.
Due to Monday’s FA Youth Cup appointment away to Fulham, all potential inclusions in Adi Viveash’s squad for that game were rested and so it fell on his assistant Joe Edwards to lead as young a team as Chelsea have selected at this level in many years.
He did so against a City team that headed south as the league’s leading scorers with 79 goals and requiring just one point to secure their place in the national Semi Finals. It was always likely to be a mismatch as one team chasing title glory took on a team full of players in some cases almost four years their junior, and so any real analysis of the action should be with this firmly in mind.
City were awarded two penalties inside the first ten minutes and whilst debutant stopper Jared Thompson saved the first from Brandon Barker, he couldn’t deny Kean Bryan from giving his team the lead. Thierry Ambrose and Pablo Maffeo ended the game as a contest before the break and Bryan rattled in a free kick early in the second half for emphasis before they took their foot off the gas and played out a quiet second half.
Yet despite being outmatched in every area, credit has to go to the Blues’ schoolboys for playing good football, maintaining a belief in their approach and defending as a team, especially in the second half. Particular highlights came from Kyle Scott’s desire to take the team on his back and organise their possession, whilst Mukhtar Ali and Ruben Sammut showed their relative experience in the middle of the park with composed use of the ball and aggression in the tackle.
Full back Trevoh Chalobah, the youngest player on the pitch, continued to make strides as he steps up and none of the juniors did themselves a disservice even though they were outclassed on the scoreboard. The major difference between the two teams was clearly the additional years of physical and tactical development in the City ranks and they look a force to be reckoned with as they go into the playoffs with a versatile squad capable of besting the best the country has to offer.
The immediate challenge for this team will be to bounce back and show signs of adapting further as they host Tottenham in the final league fixture of the season on Tuesday. Before that, the first choice youth team head to Craven Cottage in 48 hours in their bid to recapture the FA Youth Cup. Tickets for the match are available now through Fulham FC but can also be bought on the door, with kickoff slated for 7.45pm.
Chelsea: Thompson, Grant, Nartey (C.Dasilva 45), Brady (c), T.Chalobah, Sammut, Ali, Scott, Christie-Davies, Bolkiah (Maddox 78), Ugbo
Subs not Used: Baxter, St.Clair
Man City: O’Brien, Maffeo, Oseni, Adarabioyo, Smith-Brown, Byrne (Holland 60), Intima, Boadu, Ambrose (Horsfield 45), Bryan (Nemane 60), Barker
Subs not Used: Oliver, Albinson