PRE-SEASON VICTORIES FOR ACADEMY SIDES
It was another positive weekend for Chelsea's young sides as both Adi Viveash's Under-18s and Dermot Drummy's Under-21s recorded victories as momentum builds ahead of the new 2013-14 campaign.
Viveash's side beat Bristol City 2-1 at Cobham with goals from Adam Nditi and Anjur Osmanovic before Drummy's young Blues came from behind at Wealdstone to record a 4-1 win, with goals courtesy of John Swift, an Isaiah Brown double and Alex Kiwomya.
It was a familiar starting side for the Under-21s at St George's Stadium in Wealdstone, with starts for Nathan Aké, Jeremie Boga, Islam Feruz and Ruben Loftus-Cheek, among others. Mitchell Beeney, the visiting goalkeeper, had to be on full alert early on to make an impressive reflex save, before Boga forced a good save down low from the home keeper as proceedings began swiftly.
It wasn't long before the deadlock was broken and it was the hosts who grabbed the lead after Beeney upended Chris Moore inside the penalty area and the referee pointed to the spot. Moore dusted himself down and duly converted from 12 yards, sending Beeney the wrong way to give the hosts from the Isthmian League Premier Division an early advantage.
That goal shook the young Blues into action and Brown went close down the other end but hit rather tamely at the goalkeeper, before then finding the back of the net moments before the interval. Loftus-Cheek's advances down the right saw a chance for Feruz that was wasted, though Brown made no mistake with the follow-up from close range to level the scores.
An unchanged Blues side returned for the second period and exploited some sloppy Wealdstone defending to take the lead. Kiwomya latched on to a loose clearance on the edge of the box and fired into the bottom corner beyond the despairing dive of the keeper.
Moments later Drummy's boys extended their advantage as Brown grabbed his second of the afternoon. More careless possession in defence from the hosts gave the recently-signed striker an opportunity in behind the defence that he wasn't going to pass up and he confidently finished past the onrushing keeper to put his side 3-1 ahead.
Chances fell for Boga, Kiwomya and Brown as the clock ticked towards full time, with the latter attempting an outrageous lob that narrowly sailed over the crossbar, before the game was wrapped up late on. Brown was again at the centre of the action, bursting through the middle of a tired Wealdstone defence before unselfishly passing on the prospect of a hat-trick by squaring to a supporting Swift, who tapped in for his sixth goal of pre-season so far.
That late goal put a gloss on another fine Chelsea performance and extended the Under-21s' unbeaten record in pre-season to six games. Their final friendly action of the summer takes place against Hendon on Tuesday evening, before the season opener against Tottenham on Friday night at Aldershot.
Earlier in the day the Under-18s continued their impressive pre-season with their fifth win out of five at Cobham against a visiting Bristol City side. Adam Nditi's goal just before half-time, after George Cole's effort from the right had been well parried out, gave Viveash's boys the lead in a half that had also seen Jack Powell hit the outside of the post after some neat running from midfield.
Substitute Osmanovic doubled the Blues' advantage early in the second half as Fankaty Dabo turned supplier with some powerful running from defence down the right and a smart slide-rule pass to set up the 18-year-old Bosnian. The midfielder looked assured and finished with ease past the onrushing goalkeeper for his third goal in three games this pre-season.
The visitors did pull one back midway through the second period as Dion Conroy's loose pass out from the back was exploited by Marley Wisdom, who managed to bundle the ball over the line past Brad Collins despite the best efforts of George Brady to clear. That wasn't enough to spark a comeback from the visitors though and Viveash's side rounded off their pre-season with another fine day's work.
The Under-18s begin their 2013-14 campaign on Saturday August 17 when they host Sunderland at Cobham.