YOUTH REPORT: CHELSEA 6 MANCHESTER CITY 1
Our Under 18s began the new season in devastating fashion with a 6-1 victory against Manchester City at Cobham.
Reece Mitchell and Jordan Houghton gave us an early two-goal advantage, and while City hit back before the break through Devante Cole, second-half strikes from Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Jeremie Boga, substitute Charlie Colkett and Fankaty Dabo rounded off a fine display.
Adi Viveash named a fairly young side for the season opener, although it was littered with some more experienced players. Mitchell Beeney started in goal, while John Swift skippered the side in the heart of midfield. Mitchell was the focal point of a front-three, and there were also starts for both Alex Kiwomya and Loftus-Cheek, both second-half substitutes for the Under 21s last night.
It was a bright start from the Blues, with the midfield trio keeping the ball well and not hesitant in looking for the killer pass.
Kiwomya did well down the right-hand side inside the opening couple of minutes, fizzing a teasing ball across the face of the goal with Mitchell narrowly missing out.
At the other end, meanwhile, it took a desperate, last-ditch block from Dabo to keep the scores at bay as Cole looked set to pull the trigger for the visitors.
The Blues had started the better of the two teams, and we were rewarded after fifteen minutes when we went in front.
Kiwomya, who had been a constant threat early on, delivered a delightful ball into the path of Mitchell, and as the keeper attempted to narrow the angle, the striker calmly rolled the ball into the bottom corner.
The goal appeared to galvanise an already dominant Chelsea side further, and seven minutes later we doubled our advantage.
Some neat footwork by Boga earned us a free-kick deep in the City half, and a well-worked set-piece saw Conor Hunte's expert delivery headed home at the back-post by defender Houghton.
As a spectacle, it was entertaining stuff, and somewhat against the run of play, City reduced the deficit just after the half-hour mark.
George Swan played a wonderful flighted pass into the path of the diminutive Spaniard Jose Pozo, who used his pace to get beyond Kevin Wright before his cut-back was fired home by Cole.
City, clearly buoyed by the goal, began to pour forward in numbers, and they were almost level a couple of minutes later, only for Beeney to make a fantastic save with his feet from Coleafter the striker had been afforded far too much time and space.
Stung into action, we began to impose ourselves on the game again, and Loftus-Cheek was unlucky with a strike from the edge of the box.
The away side almost struck a decisive blow right on half-time, but the Blues had Wright to thank for keeping us in front when he cleared off the line from George Glendon, after a neat interchange between the midfielder and Pozo.
Pozo was beginning to have a major influence on proceedings, and he split us open again with the last action of the half, and with Cole bearing down on goal, Mitchell Beeney made two wonderful saves in quick succession to send us in at the break with a slender lead.
The second half couldn't have started any better for the Blues, as we restored our two-goal advantage within minutes of the restart.
The ball was played into Loftus-Cheek just inside the penalty area, and in one swift movement, the tall, imposing midfielder produced a turn and finish of supreme quality to make it 3-1.
The manager made our first substitution of the match just before the hour when he replaced Kiwomya, who had run himself into the ground in what were sweltering conditions, with Ambrose Gnahore.
There had been a distinct lack of goalmouth action throughout the second half, with much of the game being played in and around the midfield area.
However, in the 68th minute the game was put out of City's reach when Boga made it 4-1 with the goal his performance had merited, firing into the bottom corner from distance after exchanging passes with Mitchell.
The effective Loftus-Cheek was then replaced by Colkett, a young, enterprising midfielder for the closing stages, while Swift made way for Alistair Gordon.
With almost his first touch of the game, Colkett finished off a wonderful move involving both Boga and Mitchell to make it 5-1, taking one touch to bring it under control before calmly dispatching his strike into the top corner.
The second-half strikes had understandably knocked the stuffing out of the visitors, and as the clock ticked down it was one-way traffic.
Gordon forced a decent save out of Lawlor, while a minute later Mitchell almost finished a flowing counter-attack after rounding the keeper, only to see his effort hit the side-netting.
Dabo, outstanding throughout, put the seal on the victory when he scored from close-range after his initial effort had been well saved by Lawlor to cap a ruthless, dominant display by the home side.
Viveash, somewhat understandably, was delighted with the performance, but warned them not to get too carried away.
'It's a very positive start to the season and I thought it was a good game,' said the manager. 'We started really well and scored two great goals.
'They changed their shape, with Pozo moving out to the right, and we conceded. Mitchell Beeney then made three good saves as they got on top, but we responded well towards the end of the half.
'Loftus-Cheek lit up the game with a wonderful goal to make it 3-1, and from that point on we really drove the game, and it's important to remember we had three players [Hunt, Boga and Colkett] who are Under 16s.
'I've been very excited with the forward play of our group from the first day of pre-season, it's exciting to watch. We scored some great goals and it was a really pleasing day, but it's all about developing players, and they still have a lot to learn.'
Chelsea (4-3-3): Mitchell Beeney; Fankaty Dabo, Jonathan Muleba, Jordan Houghton, Kevin Wright; Ruben Loftus-Cheek (Charlie Colkett 70), John Swift (c) (Alistair Gordon 72), Jeremie Boga; Alex Kiwomya (Ambrose Gnahore 58), Reece Mitchell, Conor Hunte.
Unused substitutes:Ben Killip, Dion Conroy.