The wait for a home win this season goes on for Chelsea’s Development Squad but, following an 89th-minute equaliser, they will be happy to have taken a point from an entertaining London derby against Tottenham Hotspur at Aldershot’s EBB Stadium on Friday night.
Joe Edwards’ side have been almost perfect on their travels so far in 2018-19, winning seven of eight matches away from home, but they have found things much tougher on their own patch whether at Stamford Bridge or at Aldershot. For a long time here, they were staring another defeat in the face following Jack Roles’ first-half opener and Billy Gilmour’s missed penalty, but Charlie Brown’s late effort saw them take a deserved reward for their evening’s work.
Edwards was unable to call upon the services of first-teamers Marcin Bulka, Callum Hudson-Odoi or Ethan Ampadu, but otherwise had a strong available group that tasted plenty of success over the recent international break. Jamie Cumming continued in goal behind a back three of Josh Grant, Richard Nartey and Marc Guehi, with Tariq Lamptey and Juan Castillo manning the flanks as usual. Gilmour, George McEachran and Conor Gallagher reprised their midfield roles, and Martell Taylor-Crossdale was preferred to Brown in joining Daishawn Redan in attack.
Chelsea had clearly placed plenty of attention on getting over their home hump, even going as far as to swap dugouts pitchside, and they started with purpose. Lamptey repeatedly got the better of Jaden Brown down the right and saw an early shot go wide, while Gallagher saw a cross-shot swatted away by Spurs goalkeeper Brandon Austin as the Blues’ midfield fed threatening balls into the channels early and often.
Tottenham were able to adjust quickly, however, and soon nullified the Chelsea threat. Growing into the game themselves, they felt Kazaiah Sterling had been tripped by Nartey on his way to goal, before Paris Maghoma waltzed through some half-hearted challenges before testing Jamie Cumming from distance. And, unlike their more charitable hosts, they made sure to capitalise on their spell of superiority in taking a 25th-minute lead when Jack Roles confidently swept home after left-back Brown had made good gains in opposition territory.
How Chelsea weren’t on terms by the break will still be a source of bafflement to those in blue though. Guehi, Gilmour and Redan all had half-chances snuffed out, Lamptey had a powerful attempt beaten away by Austin and Castillo’s follow-up effort was cleared off the line by Tariq Hinds, and Taylor-Crossdale was wasteful after being smartly picked out by the impressive Gallagher.
Instead of any one of those moments going in their favour and being a source of confidence, they instead produced frustration, affecting their fluency as the second half went on. Brown and Faustino Anjorin – celebrating his seventeenth birthday – were introduced in place of the disappointing forward duo, and it was the former who made his presence felt almost immediately as his cross was handled in the box by Japhet Tanganga.
Gilmour, scorer of a pair of spot kicks for Scotland’s Under-19s last week as well as three in club football this term, once again assumed the responsibility but saw his well-struck shot beaten away superbly by Austin. Gallagher had a chance to get him off the hook when presented with time and space from the edge of the area two minutes later, but found the empty terraces behind the goal rather than the back of the net.
It looked like another disappointing night in cold and frosty Hampshire until a minute from time when Gallagher, nursing an injury for much of the second half, mustered up one last push and drove his team forward before picking out Brown with a gorgeous reverse ball into the inside left channel, where the substitute collected possession before drilling home for his 13th of the season. Having enjoyed the better of the match overall, it was the least Chelsea deserved, and the point keeps them well in touch at the top of the Premier League 2.
The league campaign now takes a back seat with UEFA Youth League and Checkatrade Trophy action on the way over the next fortnight, before their final home league outing of 2018 comes around against West Ham United. They’ll continue their search for home success against Oxford at Stamford Bridge in that Checkatrade Trophy outing on December 4th, with tickets on sale now.
Chelsea: Cumming, Lamptey, Grant ©, Nartey, Guehi, McEachran (Uwakwe 77), Gallagher, Gilmour, Redan (Anjorin 66), Taylor-Crossdale (Brown 61), Castillo
Subs not Used: Colley, Ziger
Goal: Brown 89
Booked: Brown, Gallagher
Tottenham Hotspur: Austin, Hinds, Brown, Bowden (Duncan 75), Tanganga, Eyoma, Oakley-Boothe, Marsh, Sterling, Maghoma (Reynolds 88), Roles (Richards 82)
Subs not Used: Glover
Goal: Roles 25
Booked: Bowden, Oakley-Boothe