Chelsea’s Under-18s ensured that the first ever lice televised league youth team fixture broadcast on Chelsea TV lived up to the standards previously exhibited by the younger age group by sealing a dramatic 3-2 win over Fulham on Friday night.
Under the floodlights of Cobham on a cold and misty November evening Joe Edwards’ young Blues flew out of the traps and were two goals to the good early on. Those efforts from Kyle Scott and Tammy Abraham were enough for Chelsea to confidently control the game for large periods but a five minute spell of Fulham pressure late on allowed Steven Humphrys and then Josh Walker to find the back of the net and level things up.
As they often do though, Chelsea had the last word as Jay Dasilva produced a delightful finish with the final kick of the match to send the youngsters top of the table.
After a fortnight without a fixture Edwards had a strong pool of players to pick from and named an attacking starting line up, one featuring three schoolboys. One of them, Jared Thompson, continued to deputise for the injured Brad Collins in goal whilst another in Trevoh Chalobah featured in a back four also comprising Dasilva, Charlie Wakefield and Fikayo Tomori.
Mukhtar Ali and Isaac Christie-Davies got the nod in midfield with Scott captaining the side from the number ten position. Iké Ugbo and Kasey Palmer flanked leading scorer Tammy Abraham in a threatening attack.
Chelsea were the quicker to adapt to the unusual conditions, with league matches typically played on Saturday mornings, and soon found themselves ahead following a fine passage of play. A flowing move through midfield saw Christie-Davies thread the ball through to Scott, who opened his body and curled past Magnus Norman to find the far corner with aplomb.
That lead was doubled by the time a quarter of an hour had been played and the second goal arrived in similar fashion to the first. Palmer was the provider this time, flicking the ball in a timely fashion to Abraham, who duly dispatched his 17th club goal of what is already a remarkable season.
Things tempered themselves for a spell thereafter as Chelsea established their superiority and controlled the contest. Fulham had a brief moment of possibility when Aaron Redford had time and space to size up a shot but he scuffed it at Thompson, whilst at the other end Palmer was proving a consistent nuisance to the visitors.
He spun a shot inches wide from the edge of the box before testing Norman’s reactions with an effort direct from a corner. He then combined well with Abraham to give the big forward a chance to double his tally but a low strike was beaten away by the Fulham stopper.
Chalobah impressed at centre back, most notably when executing a sensational tackle to deny Walker a clear run at goal, and another Under-16 in Ugbo might have done better at the end of the first half when heading wide from close range following good play by Dasilva.
Fulham replaced Redford with Humphrys at the break but didn’t really impact the game for a long time to come yet. Instead, Scott curled wide within a minute of the restart and Ugbo saw a close-range try blocked by recent England call-up Tayo Edun.
Norman was then asked to make a spectacular save to palm Abraham’s powerful shot away from the top corner whilst Palmer, having intercepted a loose ball from Elijah Adebayo, curled wide when he should have hit the target. The biggest chance though fell to Tomori, who surged forward from centre-back to connect with Scott’s pass only to thunder his effort off the crossbar.
It proved a turning point of sorts as Fulham managed to firstly get a foothold in the game and then draw level. They owed something to the referee, who found reason to award a penalty despite Chelsea protests. Walker’s spot kick was awful and easily saved by Thompson but Humphrys reacted first to reduce the deficit.
Moments later it was 2-2. Walker this time got it right, moving into the right hand channel to pick up the ball before drilling low across the goal and beyond Thompson. It came almost out of nowhere but Fulham were level and now favourites to win as they poured forward with momentum and supreme confidence.
Dasilva, though, had other ideas. Deep into stoppage time the Blues mounted one final attack and Scott managed to flick the ball out wide before being left crumpled in a heap by a crude late challenge. His pass found Dasilva, who sized up his options before picking out the top corner at the far post with an outrageous effort fit to win any contest.
Chelsea: Thompson, Wakefield, Tomori, Chalobah, Dasilva, Ali (Sammut) , Christie-Davies, Scott (c), Palmer (Brady), Ugbo (Muheim), Abraham
Subs not Used: Baxter, Bolkiah
Goals: Scott, Abraham, Dasilva
Fulham: Norman, Elworthy (Opoku), Edun, Adebayo, Sheckleford (c), Smile, Adeniran (Buffonge), De La Torre, Kait, Redford (Humphrys), Walker
Subs not Used: Ashby-Hammond, Shamsi
Goals: Humphrys, Walker