YOUTH REPORT: MANCHESTER CITY 0 CHELSEA 2
A young Chelsea side capped off an impressive showing in Manchester with three points against Manchester City at Platt Lane. Second half goals from Charlie Colkett (pictured) and substitute George Cole ensured the Blues would take maximum points back to London and remain unbeaten this season.
Adi Viveash made six changes from the side that drew 2-2 last time out at Wolves, with a host of his young players having been involved in midweek in the NextGen Series away in Norway against Molde. The games are starting to come thick and fast for the young players now, with Friday's FA Youth Cup draw giving them an away tie at either Colchester United or Faversham Town next month in the third round. With Dermot Drummy's Under-21 side also in weekend league action, on Sunday against City, the visitors' starting 11 took on a very youthful look.
Jesse Starkey, who has been an ever-present in midfield since missing the opening day 6-1 win over City, was one of just five players who kept their starting place from the last game. Jordan Houghton, Kevin Wright, Reece Mitchell and Connor Hunte made up the pack, with the latter two joined by Alex Kiwomya in attack. Colkett joined Starkey and captain Ruben Loftus-Cheek in midfield, while Houghton and Wright were joined in the back four by Jonathan Muleba at right back and Isak Ssewankambo. Mitchell Beeney returned between the sticks.
Chelsea were quick and bright right from the start, and Loftus-Cheek went close to giving them the lead after just a couple of minutes when he led a sharp counter-attack with Kiwomya, though the midfielder's shot was narrowly wide. Houghton was called into defensive action within the opening 10 minutes and stood firm as both sides exchanged early blows, with Beeney also called into action to punch away a dangerous corner.
However from there it was very much the visitors dominating proceedings and Mitchell was unlucky not to make more contact in getting on the end of Kiwomya's low ball across the face of goal. The Blues were typically well drilled off the ball, pressing their opponents high up the field and successfully regaining possession time after time. Houghton thought he had scored when his header from a Starkey corner found the back of the net, though the linesman adjudged the ball to have already swung out of play.
It was a warning for Adam Sadler's side and their goal continued to lead a charmed life when Nathaniel Oseni made a goal-line clearance after Loftus-Cheek had accelerated away from his man down the right and delivered a teasing ball into the box. Hunte then beat three defenders with a jinking run into the area but the City keeper Billy O'Brien managed to keep it out with a great double save.
Loftus-Cheek had a free-kick sail just over the bar, Colkett sliced an effort wide and Wright almost inadvertently got on the scoresheet with a bizarre effort that hit him as he charged down a City clearance and looped narrowly over, however Chelsea just could not find that breakthrough that their play was deserving of.
O'Brien was standing tall and having an excellent game in goal for the hosts, and he saved once again from Loftus-Cheek with 10 minutes of the half remaining. Kiwomya should have tucked away the rebound but put it wide. City then rallied as the half drew to a close and Brandon Barker had an effort fly over Beeney's bar after Houghton had given the ball away, before a couple of corners that were comfortably dealt with by the Blues defence.
Viveash must have wondered how his side had not come in for the interval at least a couple of goals ahead, however they returned for the second period in much the same fashion, carefully probing with the ball in midfield and then launching blistering attacks with their pace. Louis Hutton had a chance which he just cut across early after the restart for City, however it took just 6 minutes before the deadlock was finally broken.
The high pressing game paid off once more as Kiwomya stole the ball from a defender and burst forward, feeding in Mitchell. The young striker couldn't quite manage to fashion a chance for himself, however Colkett was following up close behind and struck a neat low effort past the goalkeeper and into the corner. It was the England Under-17 star's second goal of the season, his first having come in the return fixture back in August.
Chelsea continued to keep the ante up, searching for a killer second goal, and Kiwomya did well to dart in off the right byline and beat a couple of defenders, though his effort in the end was a weak one and comfortably gathered by O'Brien. However, as City probed further into the Blues half looking for an equaliser, those lightning-fast breaks with Mitchell, Hunte and Kiwomya were proving to be a real threat.
It was one such advance forward that brought the game's first yellow card, as Kiwomya played an inch-perfect ball in to Mitchell, who just managed to get a toe to it before Oseni, who was booked for the late tackle. Starkey delivered the resultant free-kick, swinging in from the left, though Ssewankambo's glancing header was not enough to trouble the 'keeper.
Loftus-Cheek had another effort denied by O'Brien, after a clever one-two with Mitchell inside the box, and Houghton saw a well-connected header fly wide, before the Blues were awarded a penalty on the hour mark. Houghton had burst forward from defence with a lung-bursting surge and Oseni was again the guilty party in conceding the foul. The referee was lenient and chose to let the defender off, and it was double relief for Oseni as Starkey's spot-kick clipped the outside of the post.
Yet it wasn't long before Chelsea did finally have that second goal. George Cole replaced Colkett and was quickly busy in the midfield, before providing a neat finish from the edge of the box to seal the points and grab his second of the campaign.
Beeney was tested late on as City searched for a consolation, and had to palm away a deep delivery after a short corner that was looping towards the far post, however the Chelsea rearguard held out to notch up their second clean sheet of the season and a very assured three points.
'We played really well,' said youth team manager Viveash. 'We had a lot of them travel to Molde so it's been an interesting week for them, late back on Thursday with Dermot and then we have to pick them up Friday. The training session yesterday was really sharp, it surprised me even because I thought they'd be a little bit flat from the travelling but I challenged them if they could take it to the game, and they did.'
'We should have been a little more cutting in the final third, that's the only thing today but we worked really hard all over the pitch to get a clean sheet. We had nice movement and rotation in the front three with Alex, Connor who I thought was excellent for a young Under-16 to play at that level in a youth game, and Reece Mitchell and because those three can play all the three positions it's quite hard to mark because you think you're marking one then you look around and he's on the right wing.'
'It's nice to be unbeaten but it's not the biggest thing, it's that the players are developing the right way. They're playing some outstanding football, scoring freely which is important, creating loads of chances and working on the off-the-ball side of the game which I'm quite demanding of as a coach, because if you've got the talent and you can add that to it then you've got half a chance.'
'We're also pleased for Ruben to get through 90 minutes. We're trying to build up his physical minutes to get him ready again to go back in with the Under-21s and we're really pleased with him getting through 90 minutes having played 55 minutes in Molde on Wednesday night and that for him is a big thing.'
'We scored two really good goals. Charlie Colkett scored a good goal and then George Cole came off the bench with a great quality finish. Colkett is someone with a lot of potential, we've got five or six Under-16s with real potential, most of them play in the youth team and they will because that's what we do, we play our young ones. We didn't have one Under-18 on the pitch in the first half, it was only when Tom Howard came on, so they're an Under-17 team really and that's great testament for them the way they're playing.'
Chelsea (4-3-3): Beeney; Muleba, Houghton, Ssewankambo, Wright; Loftus-Cheek (c), Colkett (G Cole 72), Starkey; Kiwomya (Howard 79), Mitchell, Hunte (Gnahore 81)