YOUTH TEAM REPORT: CHELSEA 2 LIVERPOOL 1
The Under-18s made it three wins from three at the start of this campaign as they overturned a second-half deficit at Cobham on Saturday morning, with goals from substitute Jordan Houghton and Alex Kiwomya (pictured).
With the likes of Jeremie Boga, Islam Feruz and Ruben Loftus-Cheek in action for Dermot Drummy's Under-21s the previous evening, there were plenty of opportunities for Adi Viveash's youngsters to impress as they hosted Liverpool.
There was a start for unused Under-21 substitute John Swift in midfield, alongside Jesse Starkey and Reece Mitchell, who dropped deeper than usual to play the number 10 role. Tom Howard and Fankaty Dabo supported from the flanks, while Kiwomya lead the line up front.
At the back there was a start for Andreas Christensen, who got some action on Friday night at Brentford's Griffin Park for the older age group, alongside Dion Conroy, with Adam Nditi and Jonathan Muleba fulfilling the full back roles, and Mitchell Beeney between the sticks.
The Blues were looking to maintain their 100% league record this season after victories over Manchester City and Wolves in recent weeks, followed by an 8-3 friendly win over Southampton last weekend, while Steve Cooper's Liverpool had yet to notch their first three points of the campaign, after two draws and a defeat.
The first half passed with only a little incident, and most of that in the Chelsea final third was provided by Mitchell, who stung visiting goalkeeper Ryan Fulton's palms on a number of occasions during the opening exchanges. Twice inside the first quarter of an hour Mitchell made himself a nuisance, showing his strength to wrestle the ball back before darting in between a couple of defenders. In the end the visitors did well to deflect the ball behind for a corner.
Nditi provided a threat down the left flank with his directness and pace and one venture forward managed to supply Dabo on the opposite side, whose left-footed bending effort sailed just wide. Kiwomya's movement and link-up play with Mitchell was proving to be the Blues' most advantageous asset and the young England U17 international almost put it on a plate for Howard, but the wideman was unable to get a toe on the end of it.
For Liverpool Jerome Sinclair, another England youth striker, was attempting to spring the offside trap as the Blues held a high defensive line, though on the occasion he managed to be successful he was thwarted by a good recovery from Christensen. Sinclair then blazed a good opening over Beeney's bar before Conroy made an excellently-timed recovering challenge inside the box to keep the danger away.
Viveash made a couple of changes at the interval, replacing left back Nditi with Kevin Wright and skipper Swift with Jordan Houghton. The second half started in a much more frantic fashion with chances at both ends before the game's opening goal. Muleba and Kiwomya forced Fulton into early action, while Beeney made a good save at the other end before being finally beaten soon after. Daniel Trickett-Smith danced in between a few Blues defenders before slotting past the goalkeeper to cap off an excellent individual opening goal.
As Chelsea sought to find a quick reply Starkey flashed a decent opening across the face of goal and Colkett had an effort comfortably saved after a super cross-field ball by Houghton to set up another attack. Viveash made his final change not long after the hour mark, introducing Charlie Colkett for Christensen and deploying Muleba alongside Conroy at centre back.
Mitchell continued to threaten with the hosts' best moments, and one direct run down the left side was only thwarted at the last moment and turned behind for a corner. However the young visitors have had a problem early in this campaign with giving goals away from set-pieces and that issue was to return once again as substitute Houghton rose highest to power home a headed equaliser.
It wasn't long before Houghton quickly turned provider, linking up superbly with Colkett before the latter found a great ball into Kiwomya who, from about three yards, was not about to miss as he rolled it into the back of the net to overturn the deficit, the first occasion the Blues had come from behind this term.
With the game stretched in the dying minutes there was a miraculous goal-line clearance from near enough under the Liverpool crossbar as Chelsea sought to finish the game off, and Kiwomya had another effort flash across the goal face, however there was to be no more goal action as the hosts maintained their 100% record this season.
Chelsea: Beeney; Muleba, Conroy, Christensen (Colkett 60), Nditi (Wright h/t); Swift (c) (Houghton h/t), Starkey, Mitchell; Howard, Kiwomya, Dabo
Unused subs: Killip, A Gordon.