Chelsea’s Development Squad continued their largely impressive start to the new Premier League 2 campaign with a 1-1 draw away to defending champions Manchester United at Leigh Sports Village on Sunday afternoon.
The Blues were the better team for long spells and were handed a first-half lead when Kyle Scott pounced on a mistake by goalkeeper Sam Johnstone, but they weren’t able to add to the scoreline in a second half that saw the home team grow stronger as the game went on and a late Joseph Colley own goal handed them a share of the spoils.
Adi Viveash made a pair of changes to the side that so handsomely beat Liverpool 4-1 last time out, bringing back the fit-again Charlie Colkett in midfield at the expense of Isaac Christie-Davies, whilst Dominic Solanke was afforded a start in attack as he looked to get some much-needed minutes into his legs ahead of the transfer deadline. He came in for Iké Ugbo in a side once again captained by Jay Dasilva.
United had been roundly beaten by Southampton in their previous outing and had been warned in no uncertain terms by manager Warren Joyce that a similar drop in standards again here would not be tolerated. Perhaps sparked into life by the no-nonsense remarks by their long-time coach, the Reds started well and threatened inside five minutes when Josh Harrop danced his way past Colley down the left, earning a corner from which Scott McTominay headed over.
That was, however, as good as things got for them in the first half. The Blues soon settled into their groove and the game began to look rather similar to the Liverpool encounter with them enjoying plenty of possession whilst probing for a way through. Josi Quintero spun a searching ball in behind the home defence for Solanke to do just that, and a momentary hesistation from Johnstone in goal almost allowed him to get there first before he cleared his lines.
A neat piece of play involving Dasilva and Mason Mount almost conjured a chance for Fikayo Tomori but for Joe Riley’s headed clearance and Mount then went looking for Solanke but could only pick out Johnstone instead as the pressure picked up. There was a lengthy delay to proceedings, however, when McTominay’s wild tackle on Solanke left both men nursing injuries that would end their afternoons prematurely. Tosin Kehinde replaced the United man – who was cautioned for his part in the incident – whilst Ugbo slotted in for the disappointed Solanke.
Scott sliced wide from a good position on the edge of the area and Quintero had an instinctive effort cleared off the line by Axel Tuanzebe as the blue barrage continued, and they finally got their reward in first half stoppage time. Dasilva’s cross from the left was badly misjudged by the shaky Johnstone, who collided with Ugbo in attempting to punch clear and instead left Scott with a simple tap-in from six yards out to make it 1-0.
A scrappy opening to the second half owed much to United lacking a focal point in attack but going about their business in deeper areas with renewed vigour. Chalobah found himself with time and space at the far post twice in quick succession but his attempts to set up a team mate came to nothing, and in response both Demi Mitchell and Josh Harrop finally brought Brad Collins into meaningful action in the Chelsea goal; the latter forcing a fine save with a disguised effort destined for the top corner until the Blues’ stopper got there with a strong right hand.
The Reds’ increased sense of purpose continued as they enjoyed by far their best passage of play and Harrop once again had a sight of goal following good play between Mitchell and Sadiq El Fitouri down the right, but this time Colley’s perfectly-timed block kept Chelsea’s clean sheet intact. In response, Viveash introduced Christie-Davies for Quintero and switched from his 3-4-2-1 formation back to a flat 4-2-3-1 with Tomori at right-back and Dasilva slipping back into a deeper position on the left.
It looked as if the storm had passed as they settled back down and began to try to see out the victory but, with seven minutes remaining, they succumbed. Regan Poole produced a gem of a cross from the right that Colley could only thunder into his own net in trying to beat James Weir to the punch, leaving Collins absolutely stranded as it flew into the top corner.
There was only enough time left for Tomori to chance his arm with a spectacular dipping volley in stoppage time but it was high and wide, leaving the two teams to take a point apiece home with them. It keeps the Development Squad unbeaten after three games of the new season including away trips to last season’s top two sides, and sets them up well for their first match at Stamford Bridge this term against Tottenham Hotspur. That comes after the international break on Friday 9th September and ticket information will be available through ChelseaFC.com shortly.
Manchester United: Johnstone, El Fitouri, Tuanzebe, Poole, Riley, Redmond, Weir, Willock, McTominay (Kehinde 35), Harrop (Hamilton 83), Mitchell (Scott 77)
Subs not Used: Henderson, Doughty
Goals: Colley ‘83 og
Chelsea: Collins, Sterling, Colley, T.Chalobah, Tomori, Quintero (Christie-Davies 72), Mount (Wakefield 89), Scott, Solanke (Ugbo 31), Colkett, J.Dasilva (c)
Subs not Used: Thompson, Ali
Goals: Scott ‘45