YOUTH REPORT: EVERTON 3 CHELSEA 1
With the FA Youth Cup final first leg on Monday evening and preparations for that match on-going, it was a very young side fielded for an Under-18 league game away to Everton on Saturday.
Five Five15-year-olds were involved, two making their first appearance at this level. The home side went into a 3-0 lead before Chelsea pulled a goal back 12 minutes from time. The scorer was Chike Kandi (pictured), his third of the season.
Chelsea began the game with a back three of Nortei Nortey, Jonathan Muleba and Jay Da Silva, who was playing only his second youth team game.
Everton were on average an older side, a mixture of Under-16s, Under-17s and Under-18s, and although not overly robust, proved physically stronger in the challenge. Chelsea didn't play poorly in the first half but 1-0 down at the interval, switched to a back four with Mukhtar Ali, a debutant, coming on for Ismail Seremba who had played right wing-back. Tom Howard went from midfield to play wide on the right with Dominic Solanke dropping back from attack to the No.10 role.
The changes resulted in a better performance but although the team started to control periods of play, they couldn't find a cutting edge in the final third. George Cole and Howard both had a couple of chances but shots were either off-target or the trigger wasn't pulled at the right moment.
The Chelsea goal came when the ball was played into the box following good approach work and it rebounded off a defender into the path of Kandi. The 17-year-old's finish was clinical.
A further change to the side was then made with Isaac Christie-Davies, another debutant, coming on and the defence reverting to three at the back. Kasey Palmer, an Under-16 who joined the club recently, showed his versatility by beginning the game as the midfielder anchor, moving up to No.10 and then ending it up front.
With youth team manager Adi Viveash involved in the Youth Cup preparations, Academy coach Frank O'Brien took charge of the team for the Everton match.
'Everton were deserved winners but we take great positives from the game,' he reports.
'Jay Da Silva did very well and Tom Howard in midfield, as one of our more experienced players showed a great attitude and a great example. All the older boys had a good go and every single one of the Under-15s gave a good performance and looked comfortable with the occasion. They weren't overawed by it at all. Cole, Muleba and Palmer did well and Ben Killip in goal came out the game with credit as he made some good saves.'
Chelsea (3-5-2) Ben Killip; Nortei Nortey (Isaac Christie-Davies), Jonathan Muleba (c), Jay Da Silva; Ismail Seremba (Mukhtar Ali h-t), Tom Howard, Kasey Palmer, George Cole, Ambrose Gnahore; Chike Kandi, Dominic Solanke (Ruben Sammut).
The rescheduled Under-18 home league match against Crystal Palace will take place at Cobham on Friday 10 May, kick-off 11am.