It was a Saturday of mixed fortunes for Chelsea’s academy teams as the Development Squad beat Manchester City at Aldershot to remain both unbeaten and top of the table, but the Under-18s suffered their first defeat of the campaign as they went down 2-1 in a hard-fought contest away to West Ham.
Despite taking an early lead through George Nunn, Ed Brand’s youngsters were some way short of their best and, having failed to take a number of good chances after opening the scoring – notably from Myles Peart-Harris and Nunn himself – they were blindsided by two West Ham goals in three minutes just after the half hour mark.
The first came from Keenan Appiah-Forson, who was afforded too much time and space on the edge of the area to allow him to send a shot skidding past Jake Askew and into the back of the net. Moments later, a swift home break saw Lennon Peake take both Samuel Iling-Junior and Levi Colwill out of the game before feeding Veron Parkes, who had the finish to match a moment of real quality.
The Hammers played with an intensity and a work rate not always matched by those in blue and, although Colwill had a goal ruled out for offside, it took until the last twenty minutes for Chelsea to really give their all again. Lewis Bate led the charge, and stung Daniel Jinadu’s hands with a good shot, while substitute Joe Haigh had two promising moments come to nothing when, on another day, both could have found a way through.
Despite playing six minutes of added time camped in West Ham territory, Chelsea couldn’t find a second goal, and saw their season-long unbeaten run come to an end. They stay top as Brighton lost and Fulham didn’t play, and now turn their attentions towards Bradford City in the FA Youth Cup on Wednesday.
Things were much better for the Development Squad, however, as they followed up a good win at Tottenham on Monday with three more points against a struggling Manchester City team. Tariq Uwakwe, linked with a loan move to Derby this week, opened the scoring early on when he linked up with the other Tariq in the team, full back Lamptey, who will sign a new four-year contract with the club this weekend.
City made more of a game of things in the second half, and would have been level were it not for a crucial intervention by Clinton Mola, but Chelsea found the decisive second goal with twenty minutes left when George McEachran’s corner deflected in off a visiting defender.
Morgan Rogers almost immediately reduced those arrears, but the Blues held on, and temporarily go four points clear of Derby County, who play on Monday. Chelsea will have a game in hand again after that, when they travel to Everton on the last Friday of the month.
Under-18s: Askew, Wiggett (Humphreys 45), McClelland (c), Colwill, Iling-Junior, Bate, Rankine, Simons, Nunn (Vale 78), Lewis (Haigh 71), Peart-Harris
Subs not Used: Brooking, Wady
Goal: Nunn 9
West Ham United: Jinadu, Ashby, Greenidge, Appiah-Forson, Okotcha, Baptiste, Peake (Kileba 73), Stroud, Simon-Swyer (Fevrier 78), Nebyla (Nsumbu 86), Parkes
Subs not Used: Sanneh, Veliky
Goals: Appiah-Forson 32, Parkes 34
Development Squad: Žiger, Lamptey, Simeu, Mola, Maatsen, Gilmour (c) (Russell 45), Livramento, McEachran, Brown (Broja 63), Uwakwe (Wakely 78), Lawrence
Subs not Used: Tié, Ballo
Goals: Uwakwe 12, Own Goal 69
Manchester City: Bazunu, Dionkou, Burns (McDonald 43), Harwood-Bellis, Ogbeta, Doyle, Knight, Dele-Bashiru (Bernabe 71), Braaf, Fiorini (Nmecha 60), Rogers
Subs not Used: Scott, Touaizi
Goal: Rogers 71