Chelsea’s Under-18s maintained their winning start to the new season by defeating Reading 1-0 at Cobham on Saturday morning.
An early strike from Dutch winger Juan Castillo ultimately proved enough to secure all three points for Jody Morris’ side, although they could and perhaps should have recorded a more handsome victory, such was the extent of their overall dominance.
Castillo starting ahead of Tariq Uwakwe was the solitary change from the eleven that started last weekend’s win at Aston Villa and he wasted no time in making an impact. Jonathan Panzo made good ground on the left, and produced a good cross that was only cleared as far as the edge of the area, where Castillo was on hand to steer a stylishly side-footed finish into the roof of the net.
Reading fielded a much younger and much less experienced team than they have tended to at this level in recent years, and they looked like they had their work cut out for themselves early on. It took a good save from goalkeeper Gabriel Rosario to prevent George McEachran to prevent Chelsea from doubling the lead moments later, and the American would remain a central figure throughout.
The visitors did occasionally threaten, but came no closer to scoring than they did after a quarter of an hour, when Shamar Moore’s deflected effort had Marcin Bułka scrambling to ensure it went wide of his post. The Polish custodian was playing in his second match in the space of 18 hours, having turned out for the Development Squad the previous evening, but had precious little to do overall here.
Martell Taylor-Crossdale then had a pair of chances to get his name on the scoresheet, but scuffed the first of them wide, before then hitting the post via Rosario after being released superbly by Man of the Match Conor Gallagher.
Charlie Brown hit the post with a shot that would have been ruled out for an offside flag had it gone in anyway, whilst Taylor-Crossdale and then Marc Guehi either side of half time saw further opportunities come and go without adding to Castillo’s goal.
Rosario played a significant role on Reading still holding onto a chance of taking something back to Berkshire with them as he pulled out save after save to frustrate the Blues. An acrobatic tip away stopped Brown, a strong palm to safety nullified Castillo from a set piece, and a brace fist away from Gallagher’s threatening near-post delivery from another free kick all followed in quick succession to make it a nervous last ten minutes for Chelsea.
They might have put the game to bed on the break late in the game, but they didn’t really need to, for Reading were unable to threaten Bułka, and so the young Blues remain a perfect two from two, with a pair of clean sheets to boot, as they head to Norwich next weekend hoping to continue their fine early-season form.
Chelsea: Bułka, Lavinier (Lamptey), Guehi, Wakely, Panzo, Gallagher (c), Castillo, Anjorin (Russell), C.Brown (Walters), McEachran, Taylor-Crossdale
Subs not Used: Askew, Masampu
Reading: Rosario, Wilson (Obamakinwa), Burley (c), Nditi, Elva-Fontaine, Buchanan (Pendlebury), Sparta (Lawrence), Coleman, Moore, Wallace, Nevers
Subs not Used: Roberts, Okuboyejo