Chelsea’s first team may have to wait until Wednesday to get their pre-season schedule of fixtures underway but their junior counterparts at Cobham are well and truly back in the swing of things as the first Saturday of the new campaign brought about a return to action for the Under-18 and Under-21 teams.
Both sides are under new management for 2014-15 with Adi Viveash stepping up to replace Dermot Drummy and Joe Edwards earning sole charge of the group he so ably assisted Viveash with for the last three seasons. They’ve had roughly a week of training with their respective sides so far this summer and with some good work in the books it was time to get onto the pitch and log some meaningful minutes.
The Under-18s took on Bournemouth and included eight new first-year scholars including recent imports Hubert Adamczyk and Miro Muheim, but there was also plenty of opportunity for a host of Under-16s and even a clutch of Under-15s to assert themselves and bid to make the same impact as schoolboys as Dominic Solanke, Mukhtar Ali, Jake Clarke-Salter and Jay Dasilva did last term.
A comfortable 4-1 win saw Charlie Wakefield, Kyle Scott, Iké Ugbo and Daniel Kemp find the back of the net whilst a total of nineteen youngsters saw some playing time on a roasting hot lunchtime at Cobham before attentions turned to the Under-21s, who were a few miles away taking on Sutton United for the second year in a row.
With so many of the regulars at this level filling in for Jose Mourinho’s World Cup absentees, Viveash’s first team selection included many of last season’s FA Youth Cup winners alongside some more experienced faces as well as a trialist in French striker Modibo Tounkara, most recently aligned with Nottingham Forest before being mutually released last January.
The match finished 0-0 but Chelsea enjoyed the better of the action and grew stronger as they went on, hitting the woodwork twice in the second half through Jordan Houghton and Kasey Palmer, whilst Palmer, Alex Kiwomya and Charly Musonda will all have felt they had chances to win the game late on.
Both sides return to action next weekend with the Under-21s heading to Aldershot on Friday night and the Under-18s hosting Luton on Saturday, just before the first team’s trip to AFC Wimbledon.
Under-21 Team vs Sutton: Collins (Grainger 85), Aina (Loftus-Cheek 70), Davey (c) (Brady 67), Ssewankambo (Clarke-Salter 45), Wright (Dabo 45), Ali (Houghton 45), Loftus-Cheek (Palmer 45), Colkett (Ali 67), Musonda (Ssewankambo 67), Kiwomya (Quintero 45, Musonda 80), Tounkara (Kiwomya 67)