Under-18s win at Fulham whilst Development Squad draw at Man City

A busy Saturday for Chelsea at all levels got underway with a pair of academy matches at either end of the country. The Under-18s kicked things off with a late victory away to Fulham before the Development Squad twice came from behind to claim a point in a 2-2 draw away to Manchester City.

Jody Morris’ youngsters got the day off to a fine start with a hard-fought 2-0 win courtesy of late goals from Luke McCormick and Martell Taylor-Crossdale. The Blues dominated proceedings, particularly in the first half, but were unable to find a way past home goalkeeper Taye Ashby-Hammond, who time and again repelled everything thrown at home, often from Taylor-Crossdale.

Both sides hit the woodwork, with defender Moritz Jenz turning Taylor-Crossdale’s delivery onto his own crossbar early on before Jon Dagur Thorsteinsson’s sumptuous curler in the second half beat Jamie Cumming but not the same spot of woodwork. Chelsea had lost both Tariq Uwakwe and Harvey St Clair to injury but it was the final replacement, Charlie Brown, who had a decisive impact late on.

Averaging a goal every 78 minutes this season, with each of his five strikes coming from the bench, he thought he’d found a late breakthrough only for Ashby-Hammond to again come out on top but, but time running out, he once again made the difference. This time he didn’t get the goal, instead turning Reece James’ cross onto the post, but the rebound fell kindly to McCormick, who gleefully slammed into the open goal from six yards out.

That was enough to take all three points back down to Cobham with them, but Taylor-Crossdale added gloss to the scoreline in stoppage time when he won and scored a free kick, benefitting from a slight deflection to finally beat Ashby-Hammond and notch his twelfth goal of the season. The win keeps Chelsea at the top of the Southern league standings ahead of their trip to Arsenal next Saturday in what will likely be a warm-up fixture for the pending FA Youth Cup date at home to Cardiff City.

Fulham: Ashby-Hammond, S.Sessegnon, Felix, York (De Havilland), Jenz (c), Garrido, Santos (Kelly), O’Riley, Pearce (Elstone), Harris, Thorsteinsson
Subs not Used: Spence, Lukwata

Chelsea: Cumming, James, Nartey, Grant (c), C.Dasilva, McCormick, Gallagher, Uwakwe (Castillo), Taylor-Crossdale, St Clair (McEachran), Hudson-Odoi (Brown)
Subs not Used: Bulka, Guehi

Goals: McCormick ’85, Taylor-Crossdale ‘90
Booked: Gallagher, Grant

As the final whistle blew at Motspur Park, the Development Squad were kicking off in Manchester with a more familiar-looking side than the first-team heavy squad that beat Southampton on Monday. They were also without Kurt Zouma and Marco van Ginkel, who have spent the last month with the group, and with two games in four days, manager Adi Viveash was required to distribute playing time around as many of his squad as possible.

The first half was very much a stalemate for the majority of the time, with City threatening through leading goalscorer Paolo Fernandes, but neither side had done enough to really get on top until the hosts took the lead in first-half stoppage time. It came in rather innocuous fashion too as a near-post corner was flicked home from close range by Lukas Nmecha.

Perhaps frustrated by the soft manner in which they had fallen behind, Viveash made a pair of changes ahead of the restart, introducing Jacob Maddox and Josimar Quintero for Isaac Christie-Davies and Mukhtar Ali, and it took but four minutes for them to restore parity. Again it came from a corner and it was similarly as soft from a City point of view; Trevoh Chalobah rising highest to head down towards Iké Ugbo, who did just enough to turn the ball over the line before Angelino could clear his lines.

A third set-piece indirectly led to the afternoon’s next goal when Chelsea were unable to clear Aleix Garcia’s corner properly, allowing City to set up and keep them penned in their own penalty area. The pressure told when substitute Thierry Ambrose prodded past Brad Collins from the edge of the six yard box to restore the hosts’ advantage.

Chelsea had enjoyed much the better of the second half, albeit without creating too many chances, and they were frustrated in their attempts to penetrate a robust City defence and find their way into the area. Dujon Sterling took matters into his own hands with a driving run ten minutes from time which was halted prematurely by Cameron Humphreys, who earned himself a second yellow card and an early bath for his troubles.

That meant they had their backs to the walls in the closing stages, and they couldn’t quite hold out. A minute from time, Chelsea’s two best players on the day combined to conjure up a second equaliser; Dasilva’s cross from the left steered home first time on the run by the excellent Mount at the near post. It was enough to secure a deserved share of the spoils and extend the group’s recent unbeaten run to five matches, with their next action coming this Tuesday at home to Feyenoord in the Premier League International Cup.

Manchester City: O’Brien (c), Maffeo, Humphreys, Adarabioyo, Angelino, Garcia, Buckley-Ricketts, Horsfield, Fernandes (Kongolo 81), Brahim (Boadu 72), Nmecha (Ambrose 45)
Subs not Used: Grimshaw, Nemane

Goals: Nmecha ’45, Ambrose ‘64
Booked: Humphreys, Angelino, Maffeo
Sent Off: Humphreys

Chelsea: Collins, Sterling, Dabo (c), Tomori, Chalobah, Ali (Quintero 45), Christie-Davies (Maddox 45), Scott (Sammut 81), Ugbo, Mount, J.Dasilva
Subs not Used: Colley, Thompson

Goals: Ugbo ‘49
Booked: Scott