Chelsea’s Under-18s continued their unbeaten start to the 2015-16 season with a 3-1 win over Southampton at Cobham on Saturday morning.
Miro Muheim opened the scoring midway through the first half before doubling his tally later on with an early contender for Chelsea’s goal of the season. Southampton reduced the deficit through an equally impressive strike by Harley Willard to make the final quarter of an hour more interesting, but Isaac Christie-Davies secured the points with a well-taken third five minutes from time.
With several players either away on international duty or only just having returned, coach Joe Edwards was forced into several changes from the team that had featured for most of the first three games this season. Nathan Baxter continued in goal with Jared Thompson only fit enough to return to the bench, and the back four saw Trevoh Chalobah and Cole Dasilva either side of captain Josh Grant and Richard Nartey.
Christie-Davies and Mukhtar Ali continued in midfield but, with Ruben Sammut away representing Scotland Under-19s, Jacob Maddox came into the side in a more attacking role. Charlie Wakefield and Harvey St Clair manned the flanks and Muheim occupied the centre forward spot.
Southampton came into the match without a win to their name so far in this campaign but started well as skipper Olufela Olomola stung the hands of Baxter with a shot from distance inside of two minutes. It was an energetic opening from both sides but Chelsea looked just as capable and a typically direct run from Wakefield almost culminated in a goal, his effort skidding just wide.
Maddox was in lively form in the number ten role, moving the ball with purpose and creativity and also carrying a goal threat himself. He jinked his way towards the edge of the area before testing Harry Lewis in the visitors’ goal and repeated the trick moments later, only this time Muheim was sharpest to the loose ball, making it 1-0 with an emphatic finish.
He then saw his name taken down by the referee following a scrap with ex-Chelsea youngster Richard Bakary in which the Southampton man was also booked, but the half belonged to Chelsea. St Clair dragged a shot wide and Wakefield forced another save from Lewis whilst the best the Saints were able to offer in return was a threatening run from Willard that came to nothing, and a near-post try from Olomola that Baxter dealt with at the second time of asking.
Struggling for attacking impetus they made a switch at half time, Carel Kayembe replacing Tyreke Johnson, but it had little impact with Chalobah dominating the Southampton left side throughout. Chances came for both sides shortly after the restart though with Maddox denied by Lewis when clear on goal, and Willard hitting the post in response before a quite astounding block by Grant prevented Wilkin from equalising with the rebound.
On such moments are games decided and within two minutes it was 2-0 to Chelsea. Wakefield hared some seventy yards into attack before handing over to Muheim, who took a touch inside his man before unleashing a ferocious effort that swerved away from Lewis before crashing into the roof of the net in unstoppable fashion.
Buoyed by the confidence of a two-goal advantage, Chelsea pushed forwards looking for more goals. Ali’s free kick was pushed away by Lewis, who then got up to keep Wakefield at bay again, and a heavily-deflected dig by Ali produced the save of the day from the busy Southampton stopper.
Willard made things rather interesting with fifteen minutes left when he made it 2-1 with a left-footed pearler from wide on the right and it saw the visitors embark upon their strongest spell of concerted pressure. Chelsea, though, resisted and secured the win late on when Christie-Davies fed Ali, who returned possession with a stylish backheel to allow his team-mate to slot home for 3-1 and a deserved victory.
Chelsea: Baxter, Chalobah, Grant (c), Nartey, C. Dasilva, Ali, Wakefield (Hinckson-Mars), Christie-Davies, Muheim, Maddox (Kemp), St Clair (McCormick)
Sub not Used: Thompson
Goals: Muheim (2), Christie-Davies
Southampton: Lewis, Bakary, Cull, Lea, Cook, Jones, Willard, Thomas (N’Lundulu), Olomola (c), Wilkin (Musendo), Johnson (Kayembe)
Subs not Used: Hallett, Rowthorn