YOUTH REPORT: CHELSEA 3 CRYSTAL PALACE 1
Our Under-18 side made it four wins from four this season with a Saturday lunchtime win at Cobham.
A first-half opener from captain John Swift (pictured) and a penalty converted by Jesse Starkey put the young Blues on their way, before Reece Mitchell extended the lead in the second half. The visitors managed to pull one back midway through the second period but Adi Viveash's side held on to maintain their 100% league record.
Viveash made three changes from the side that beat Liverpool at Cobham last weekend, with Connor Hunte, Kevin Wright and Jordan Houghton coming in.
Mitchell Beeney continued between the sticks, with Dion Conroy, Jonathan Muleba, Fankaty Dabo and Wright in front of him. Jesse Starkey and Swift kept their places in midfield, with Houghton joining them, while Mitchell, Tom Howard and Hunte made up the attacking trio.
The hosts started the brighter side and went close to taking an early lead when Starkey's in-swinging corner found Swift at the far post, but the skipper was denied by a strong hand from visiting keeper Tom King.
The opening exchanges were even and chances were few and far between, although Palace's Sullay Kai-Kai did hit the outside of Beeney's post after Conroy had given away a free-kick on the edge of the box.
It wasn't long after that close shave that the deadlock was broken. A frustrating period of probing and possession was ended as Starkey fed Wright down the left flank and the defender's centre found an unmarked Swift in the box, who powered a header home.
The young Blues were buoyed by that early goal and followed it with a flurry of corners after attempts from Houghton and Hunte were charged down and deflected behind, though were unable to double the advantage. That was until Mitchell cleverly turned his man and was felled inside the box, winning the hosts a penalty, which Starkey duly converted.
A mistake at the back by Wright almost let Palace in but the attacker was marshalled well by Muleba and his eventual effort was dragged wide. At the other end Dabo got in behind down the right before cleverly cutting back to Starkey, whose effort was quickly charged down.
There was one change at the break that saw Ambrose Gnahore replace Wright at left-back and the visitors started the second period much brighter, seeking an early goal that would put them right back in the match. Beeney was quickly called into action to keep them at bay, not least as he tipped a bullet header onto the underside of the bar, and he had to use every inch of his height to claw away numerous hanging deliveries into his box.
The visitors were on top, however it was Chelsea who extended our lead after the hour mark. A loose back pass was latched upon by Mitchell, who rounded King and beat the man on the line with a powerful effort high into the net to bag his third goal of the campaign.
Viveash made his second change not long after, introducing Chike Kandi for his first appearance of the campaign in place of Hunte, with Mitchell moving to the left flank. Soon after Gary Issott's side had pulled one back, a powerful low effort from the edge of the box giving Beeney little chance.
Kandi had an effort fly over the bar as the clock ticked towards full time but Chelsea seemed to have seen the game out, until a late penalty was awarded to the visitors. Beeney came for a high ball into the box and crashed into a Palace forward, resulting in a prolonged period of treatment for the Palace man. Beeney dusted himself off and successfully kept out the effort from 12 yards to keep Chelsea's 100% league record secure.
Chelsea Beeney; Dabo, Conroy, Muleba, Wright (Gnahore h/t); Houghton, Starkey, Swift (c) (Ssewankambo 90); Howard, Mitchell, Hiunte (Kandi 73).