UNDER-18S REPORT: CHELSEA 2 WEST HAM UNITED 1
Our Under-18s came from behind at Cobham to record a second successive win, beating West Ham United 2-1.
The game began in awful circumstances, with the Cobham pitch soaked by a heavy downpour, and it was the visitors who got to grips with the conditions earliest.
With the first real attack of the game, West Ham worked the ball down the Chelsea right-hand side, and though George Cole did well to track Jerry Amoo and make the challenge, the ball went behind for a corner.
From the resulting kick, as the ball bounced around in the Chelsea box, Kieran Bywater reacted quickest, swivelling and crashing his shot into the back of the net off the underside of the bar.
The visitors' lead was almost doubled a minute later, again by utilising the threat of Amoo down the right; this time, however, as the winger looked to chip Ben Killip in the Chelsea goal, his effort sailed wide.
Having gone behind, Adi Viveash's young Chelsea side responded well, and six minutes later parity was restored.
Charly Musonda slipped a delightful ball in behind the West Ham defence, and Tammy Abraham raced through on goal, kept his composure and finished brilliantly.
Moments later we were almost in front; Dominic Solanke displayed great strength to get beyond the last defender, but as he poked his effort under the body of the advancing goalkeeper Sam Howes, Manny Dnariase was on hand to clear off the line.
The contest was developing into an entertaining affair, with both sides attempting to play in the right way, and in the 24th minute we turned the game on its head by taking the lead.
The ball was worked into the left-hand side of the penalty area to Cole, who, in an attacking sense, had been a peripheral figure early on, but the Chelsea wide-man drove towards goal, held off the challenge of the defender and fired his strike into the top corner.
After a slow start we had settled well and were fully deserving of our slender advantage. We were beginning to see more and more of the ball, with the midfield trio of Musonda, Kasey Palmer and Tammy Abraham standing out with their maturity on the ball and ability to retain possession. The work-rate of Jay Dasilva at left-back was equally impressive.
West Ham almost drew level moments before the break when Nathan Mavila's free-kick, awarded for a tackle from behind on Jordan Brown, deflected against the Chelsea wall and fizzed inches past Ben Killip's left-hand post.
The first chance of the second half fell to the visitors, and we breathed a sigh of relief as Amoo failed to connect with Mavila's cross, allowing Killip to gather.
A lung-busting run by Fikayo Tomori should have presented the Blues with a goalscoring opportunity but the right-back's cross, as he attempted to pick out the run of Solanke, was deflected behind.
West Ham's threat remained, however, and substitute Djair Parfitt-Williams went close to levelling following a jinking run, but Killip was equal to his low drive, while at the other end Cole stung the palms of Sam Howes with a curling free-kick.
As the clock ticked down it was Chelsea enjoying the majority of possession without seriously threatening the Hammers' goal, although Musonda went closest to putting the game beyond doubt with a wonderful free-kick which forced a decent save from Howes.
Shortly after it was Cole's turn to go close, again with a free-kick, but once again Howes was on hand to turn it behind for a corner.
In the dying stages of the game Kyle Scott saw his deflected strike cannon against the post and roll across the line; Abraham arrived and looked set to score but his strike from an angle was pushed away by Howes.
Chelsea (4-3-3): Ben Killip; Fikayo Tomori, Mukhtar Ali, Jon Muleba (c), Jay Dasilva; Kasey Palmer (Kyle Scott 80), Charly Musonda,Tammy Abraham; Chieke Kandi (Jordan Houghton 65), Dominic Solanke, George Cole.
Subs: Bradley Collins, Jake Clarke-Salter, Nais Butungu.
West Ham United (4-3-3): Sam Howes; Kyle Knoyle, Reece Burke, Manny Dnariase, Lewis Page; Amos Nasha, Josh Cullen, Kieran Bywater; Jerry Amoo (Parfitt-Williams 60), Jordan Brown, Nathan Mavila.
Subs: Jamie Harvey, Ginez Guzman, Moses Mavas, Marcio Martins.