YOUTH REPORT: CHELSEA 2 WOLVERHAMPTON WANDERERS 0
The Under-18 side made it two wins out of two at the start of this new 2012/13 league campaign with a win over Wolves at Cobham. Second-half goals from Islam Feruz and John Swift (pictured) finally secured all three points against a resilient visiting side, who defended resolutely throughout.
With the Under-21 side in action later in the day at Stamford Bridge Adi Viveash fielded another young side. Islam Feruz started his first game of the campaign at this level, in the central role of a front three, with Reece Mitchell and Ambrose Gnahore supporting from the flanks.
Isak Ssewankambo, Jesse Starkey and John Swift made up the midfield trio, while there was a start at centre-back alongside Dion Conroy for Jordan Houghton. Ben Killip made his first start of the season between the sticks, while Jonathan Muleba and Kevin Wright were at full-back.
The hosts had the best of the opening exchanges with Feruz denied by a last-ditch block in front of goal and by an impressive save down low from the goalkeeper after being teed up by Mitchell.
The visitors' best first-half chances came from set-pieces, with Killip having to be brave to intervene and clear the danger after a delivery after a quarter of an hour wasn't dealt with. Keita also connected well with a header that just sailed over Killip's bar.
The best move of the first half was created by the Blues, with Mitchell and Starkey interchanging nicely down the left, although Wright was unable to trouble the goalkeeper from a tight angle and the ball was eventually smothered.
Swift and Mitchell both had efforts fly over the bar as the visitors defended well and in numbers, while Ssewankambo shot into the ground after a Starkey free-kick and the effort was comfortably gathered.
There was a change and a slight tweaking at the break, with Tom Howard replacing Houghton, Ssewankambo moving alongside Conroy at centre-back and Mitchell moving infield, however it was the visitors who caused the early second-half problems, with Starkey forced to make an excellent clearance off the line.
Mitchell's move to a more central role almost paid early dividends when he made a great burst through the middle, beating a couple of defenders before feeding in Feruz. The striker's efforts were thwarted and, when the ball fell back into Mitchell's path eight yards out, only a brilliant last-minute intervention kept the scores level.
However that would not remain the case for long as the hosts went ahead just before the hour mark. A period of sustained pressure finally told as Swift beat a man and finished confidently into the bottom far corner to give the Blues a well-earned lead.
The goal reinvigorated Chelsea to step up another a gear. Feruz had a flying effort from 20 yards well saved before Starkey hit the bar from Mitchell's right-wing cross. Conroy took a slight knock and was replaced by Ali Gordon midway through the second half and the defender was called into action quickly, making a terrific last-ditch tackle as the visitors looked for a way back into the game.
Wolves should have been level after missing a gilt-edged chance from 10 yards out that really should have seen the back of the net rippling and that miss was eventually punished after 75 minutes as Chelsea doubled their lead. The hassling and constant pressure off the ball from the Blues' front players finally paid off as Feruz stole the ball off a defender's toe and found himself bearing down on goal, before expertly finishing into the far corner.
Viveash made his final change, replacing Wright with Walter Figueira, with Muleba switching across to right back and Gnahore moving to left back. As the final whistle loomed Killip sold Muleba short but the mistake could not be capitalised upon, while at the other end Feruz was denied a second by another good save down low by the goalkeeper and Mitchell dragged a late effort wide.
Chelsea (4-3-3): Killip; Muleba, Conroy (A Gordon 67), Houghton (Howard h/t), Wright (Figueira 77); Ssewankambo, Swift (c), Starkey; Mitchell, Feruz, Gnahore