UNDER-18S REPORT: CHELSEA 0 WOLVERHAMPTON WANDERERS 0
A frustrating afternoon for the youth team at Cobham ended with a share of the league points as the hosts were unable to break down a resilient Wolves defence.
Adi Viveash made six changes from their last league outing, a 2-1 defeat at Southampton, with three schoolboys involved from the start. Dominic Solanke returned up front, supported by Kasey Palmer and Charly Musonda from the flanks, while Jay Dasilva also kept his place at left-back.
The rest of the back four was made up of Ola Aina, Isak Ssewankambo and Dion Conroy, with Bradley Collins remaining in goal. Charlie Colkett skippered the side from midfield, alongside Mukhtar Ali and Jordan Houghton.
The young Blues started the game promisingly, with Musonda testing the goalkeeper with a dipping drive from 25 yards and Solanke heading a corner from the right narrowly over inside the opening quarter of an hour.
However, in the face of some stubborn and dogged defending from the visitors, Viveah's side had to remain patient in their build-up play and look to move the ball quickly across the rain-sodden surface.
An opportunity was fashioned after Musonda fed in Solanke down the left and, although the pass was slightly overhit, the schoolboy striker pulled off a clever back-heel to tee up Colkett. The onrushing midfielder, Chelsea's captain once again, could only fire narrowly over.
At the other end Wolves earned themselves a great chance to break the deadlock on the break after good build-up play down the left, though the midfield runner from deep could only poke his final effort the wrong side of the near post.
Musonda had a left-footed shot fly over but chances remained limited as both sides initiated some tough tackling to stamp their authority on the contest. Conroy slid in strongly to denyIbrahim Keita's progress to goal, before the centre-back again intervened to keep the visitors at bay.
Yet it was Chelsea enjoying the bulk of possession and territorial advantage as the interval loomed. Solanke dragged a shot wide from outside the box and Ali 's drive from distance fizzed inches over the bar as the game remained scoreless at the break.
Within a few minutes of the restart Palmer found himself played cleverly in behind, though his left-footed half-volley was just miscued beyond the near post, before Solanke was thwarted by an excellent last-ditch tackle.
An enterprising move down the young Blues' right flank fashioned a chance at the back post for the supporting Colkett though his low shot, despite beating the goalkeeper, was turned away comfortably off the line by a recovering defender.
The second period continued the same theme as the first, with Chelsea in control but finding it difficult to break through a resilient, well-drilled defence. Viveash introduced schoolboy winger Charlie Wakefield midway through proceedings and he looked bright down the right flank, running at defenders and supplying a number of dangerous deliveries into the box from out wide.
Solanke and Palmer were also combining well with some intricate play in between defenders in the final third, though the visitors continued to work hard to keep the Blues at bay. As the game entered the final 10 minutes Wakefield advanced down the right and supplied for Solanke, though the striker could only connect tamely with the header and it soared aimlessly over the bar.
A Musonda corner from the left caused problems as Wakefield stabbed the rebound through a cluster of bodies and towards goal, only for the goalkeeper to intervene crucially, before Solanke was denied at the front post from Ssewankambo's centre by an excellent interception.
Ssewankambo fired wide as the young Blues poured forward in the final few minutes, though their efforts were to be consistently met with solid Wolves defending and Viveash's side had to settle for a share of the league points.
Chelsea (4-3-3): Bradley Collins; Ola Aina, Isak Ssewankambo, Dion Conroy, Jay Dasilva; Mukhtar Ali, Jordan Houghton (Fikayo Tomori 74), Charlie Colkett (c) (Charlie Wakefield 65); Kasey Palmer (Reece Mitchell 70), Charly Musonda, Dominic Solanke
Unused subs: Jordan Beeney, George Brady
By Sam Poplett
Pictures courtesy of Mark Sandom