YOUTH TEAM KEEP ACTIVE

The Chelsea Under-18 side recorded a 2-2 draw in a friendly at Cobham against Ipswich this weekend as they prepare for their final league game before Christmas, at Fulham on Wednesday. Goals from Chike Kandi (pictured) and Jesse Starkey cancelled out the young Tractor Boys' two-goal lead.

There were opportunities from the start for second-years Sam Bangura and Ismail Seremba, as well as first-year regulars under Adi Viveash this term including Starkey, Alex Kiwomya, Jonathan Muleba, Dion Conroy and Isak Ssewankambo. Schoolboys Ola Aina, Charlie Colkett, Connor Hunte and George Brady also featured under stand-in boss, and usual U16 manager, Joe Edwards.

The visitors took an early lead after a deep free-kick was turned back across goal and headed past Ben Killip in the Chelsea goal, before doubling their lead early in the second period after similarly poor defending from a set-piece.

Hunte and Jordan Houghton entered the fray at half-time, though it was starter Kandi who clawed the Blues back into the game, staying composed after getting in behind and finishing confidently past an onrushing goalkeeper. That gave the hosts the platform to push for a leveller, which arrived shortly afterwards after an excellent move. Starkey was at the centre of it, exchanging quick one-twos on the edge of the Ipswich box before finishing neatly.

A grandstand finish ensued, with Chelsea pushing for a winner. Starkey had another effort saved well and Houghton flashed one past the far post, while Kandi's presence up front caused genuine problems for the visitors, however the Blues were unable to find a winner and had to be content with settling for a draw.

Seven days previously the youth team played out another draw, this time a 3-3 in a friendly when Cardiff City were the visitors to Cobham. After going 2-0 ahead the young Bluebirds pulled it back level before the interval and took the lead after the restart, though Chelsea remained composed and quickly equalised, before Ssewankambo was denied a late winner by a terrific save.

Viveash's side now face Fulham this week in a top-versus-second clash in their league, though there is no opportunity for places to be swapped as Chelsea currently hold a seven-point lead over our west London neighbours.