Chelsea’s Development Squad struggles so far this season continued on Friday night as they suffered a 3-1 defeat to Swansea City at Aldershot Town’s EBB Stadium in the Premier League 2.
A classy treble from Oli McBurnie did the damage on an evening where, once again, the Blues failed to play to their full potential, and although Kylian Hazard marked his debut with a goal late in the second half, it was a frustrating evening all round.
On an evening where Chelsea handed a debut to trialist forward Victor Adeboyejo, it was the Swan’ own number nine who stole the show with an outstanding first-half hat-trick, with all three goals coming in an unstoppable fifteen-minute spell that left Joe Edwards’ youngsters stunned.
The Blues were without Callum Hudson-Odoi and Ethan Ampadu owing to international and first-team responsibilities respectively, but were otherwise able to field a strong team that included former Leyton Orient striker Adeboyejo in attack. The 19 year-old played 14 times for the troubled Os in League Two last season and was drafted in over the international break to try to help Chelsea in a department where they have been lacking considerably so far this season.
He showed some neat and tidy touches in the first half too, playing up to the level of his team-mates, and twice going close with half-chances in the hosts’ best first-half moments. The bigger problem for the Blues, however, was that there weren’t a great deal of them and, when Swansea took control shortly before the half hour mark, they did so decisively.
The contest had been rather tepid and uneventful until Jay Fulton escaped into space down the right and stood up a cross for his compatriot McBurnie to steer a header past Jamie Cumming and into the far corner to make it 1-0. A misplaced volley moments later let Chelsea off the hook momentarily, but he was in an unforgiving mood and soon added a second, collecting George Byers’ through ball before opening his body and picking out the same area of the net.
Daniel James could have added to the scoreline when his searing pace took him clear of the Chelsea rearguard only for Cumming and Trevoh Chalobah to shut the door, but McBurnie had the last word of the first half when he completed his treble with a gloriously-flighted effort from left of centre into the top corner.
Edwards switched to a 3-4-3 formation ahead of the restart, with Cole Dasilva replacing Harvey St Clair, and it yielded two good chances for his team to get back into the contest. Unfortunately, neither Adeboyejo or Luke McCormick were able to capitalise on them, the former blazing high and wide from six yards out, whilst the latter saw his low effort well-saved by Erwin Mulder in the Swansea goal.
Had either of those gone in, Chelsea might have found some momentum, but instead Swansea found fresh impetus themselves and looked to add to their lead. Josh Grant had to intervene twice in succession to keep James and Jordan Garrick from scoring, and the Jameses on each side then exchanged efforts as Chelsea’s Reece drew Mulder into more work before Swansea’s Dan drilled wastefully into the side netting when well placed.
With Chelsea fading as the match went into the final quarter of an hour, the younger Hazard – on the pitch for barely a minute – gave his team a lifeline when he was on hand to tap home from a yard out following a Chalobah header saved by Mulder, and there were chances to make it even more interesting late on too. Dujon Sterling’s thumping header looked destined to set up a grandstand finish, but Mulder pulled off an almost-unbelievable save to ensure the visitors wouldn’t have to worry too much at the death.
Some of the group will now prepare for Wednesday’s UEFA Youth League date at home to Roma, whilst the Development Squad themselves return to action a week on Sunday, when they welcome West Ham to Aldershot.
Chelsea: Cumming, James, Colley, Chalobah, Grant (K.Hazard 76), Sammut ©, Sterling, Maddox, Adeboyejo (Muheim 83), McCormick, St Clair (C.Dasilva 45)
Subs not Used: Bułka, Nartey
Goal: K.Hazard ‘78
Booked: James, Sammut
Swansea City: Mulder, Brydges, Lewis, Maric (King 80), Harries, Rodon ©, James, Fulton, McBurnie (Baker-Richardson 90), Byers, Garrick (Gorré 75)
Subs not Used: Zabret, T.Reid
Goals: McBurnie ’25, ’29, ‘39