YOUTH REPORT: CHELSEA 1 SOUTHAMPTON 3

Posted on: Thu 02 May 2013

The Under-18s suffered consecutive league defeats when they went down to a strong Southampton side at a chilly Cobham.

A header from visiting centre back Mugabi, an own goal from Ola Aina and a converted penalty from Gape, all in the first period, were enough for the visitors and, despite a goal pulled back midway through the second half thanks to sub Ambrose Gnahore, the young Blues were unable to launch a comeback.

Adi Viveash fielded a young side due to the Under-21s having played the previous evening, while a couple of his regular players were nursing knocks. Schoolboys Connor Hunte and Charlie Colkett started out wide and in the centre of midfield respectively, with the latter being joined by Jesse Starkey and Isak Ssewankambo.

Tom Howard started on the opposite flank to Hunte with Reece Mitchell (pictured) leading the line, while Dion Conroy, Aina, Fankaty Dabo and Kevin Wright made up the back four in front of captain Mitchell Beeney in goal.

The opening exchanges were even, though Beeney had to be smart to make a decent save down low from Gallagher, the visitors' striker, after 10 minutes. Reid then saw an effort skim the roof of the hosts' net as Southampton enjoyed the best of the early chances and territorial advantage.

Chelsea were struggling to build much in the final third, though Mitchell did threaten down the left channel and did well to win a free kick right on the edge of the box after skipping past his man. Colkett's wicked left-footed delivery was put behind for a corner, though nothing could be made of that resulting dead-ball opportunity.

Mitchell got in down the opposite flank moments later, after being slid in by Hunte, though nothing came of his centre into the box, before Howard did well to win a corner down the left after switching play from Colkett, though again the delivery failed to threaten.

Midway through the opening period, Southampton grabbed the opening goal. A bright move involving Seager and Gallagher saw Beeney deny the former with an excellent tip over the bar, though the keeper could do little as the centre-back Mugabi powered home a header from the resulting corner.

Beeney did have to be at his very best to keep the deficit at just one a couple of minutes after picking the ball out the back of his net, expertly making a fingertip save as he flew across goal towards his right, though it went from the brilliant to the most unfortunate for the man between the sticks about 10 minutes later.

Aina's back pass seemed innocuous as the Blues tried to build play out from the back, but Beeney's miscontrol allowed the ball to run under his boot and trickle over the line to double the visitors' lead.

The young Blues were facing a tough battle now and that challenge became even bigger a couple of minutes later as Beeney upended Gallagher as the striker skipped past him in the box. The goalkeeper was perhaps fortunate to only pick up a booking and was helpless to prevent Saints skipper Gape tucking home from the spot.

Viveash's boys were struggling with the visitors' high-tempo passing game in midfield and Southampton could have had a fourth in stoppage time of the first half after an excellent move down the right, though the eventual shot was deflected just beyond Beeney's far post.

The manager made a couple of changes at the break, replacing Mitchell with Chike Kandi in a like-for-like swap up front, while also sending on Ambrose Gnahore for Conroy, with Ssewankambo dropping back into defence. However Southampton picked up from where they had left off before the interval, with Reid shooting just wide and Beeney saving well from Gallagher in the opening 10 minutes of the second period.

There was some hope for the hosts just before the hour mark, though, as substitute Gnahore pulled a goal back. A deep corner was initially dealt with well but fell to the lurking Colkett on the edge of the box. The midfield man's shot was hit well but the visiting keeper could only parry it into the path of Gnahore, who provided a simple finish on the rebound for his second goal of the campaign.

That served to open the game up further as the Blues sought another quick goal to make a late contest of the match. Seager was denied by Beeney once again and Mugabi lashed a decent chance just over the bar as Southampton played some enjoyable football, while Gnahore was denied a second for himself and his side on the break by a decent save from the keeper down low.

Substitute and schoolboy Dom Solanke saw a header from a corner deflected over as the final whistle loomed, though the visitors held out strongly for another three points. Attention for Viveash and his young Blues now turns to Friday's FA Youth Cup quarter-final at Pride Park against Derby County.

Chelsea: Beeney (c), Dabo, Aina, Conroy (Gnahore h/t), Wright, Ssewankambo, Starkey, Colkett (Solanke 78), Howard, Hunte, Mitchell (Kandi h/t).