YOUTH TEAM REPORT: CHELSEA 5 MIDDLESBROUGH 0
Chelsea's Under-18 side made it three wins in a row thanks to two composed finishes from Ambrose Gnahore, added to in the second half by Jordan Houghton, Dominic Solanke and Chike Kandi (pictured).
Adi Viveash made two changes from the side that won so impressively at Blackburn last time out, bringing in Fankaty Dabo and George Brady for Chike Kandi and Kevin Wright.
Chelsea's youngsters started the brighter and it took a combination of good defending and misplaced passing to deny the lively Solanke on three separate occasions in the opening stages.
It was our visitors from the North-East who fashioned the first clear opportunity, though. Mark Kitching's cross was met with a rasping volley by Callum Cooke, but his effort was deflected over before it could trouble Bradley Collins in the Chelsea goal.
Our Under-18 side have been full of goals this season and it took them less than 10 minutes to open the scoring here. Solanke picked the ball up deep and released Gnahore in the inside left channel. The winger raced through and made no mistake, coolly finishing under the onrushing Fryer.
The lead was almost doubled just two minutes later when a penetrating long ball from Brady released Dabo. He skipped past Fryer and as the angle narrowed attempted to pick out Solanke or Gnahore in the middle, but the recovering Boro defenders did just enough to clear before a player in blue could finish the chance off.
Chelsea were playing an impressive pressing game, winning the ball in midfield again and again and our dominance was soon rewarded with a second goal. Solanke battled with Boro's two central defenders for possession, and when the ball ran free Gnahore was on hand to race through and slide his shot past Fryer in a very similar vein to his first of the afternoon.
The prominent Gnahore had a chance for his hat-trick minutes later when a weak Fryer punch fell to him on the edge of the box but his effort cleared the bar.
A Middlesbrough corner then caused problems for Collins in the Chelsea goal but skipper Jonathan Muleba was alert to head clear near his own goal line.
The home side were next to threaten from a set-piece; Kasey Palmer's corner was not dealt with and Fryer eventually produced a flying stop from Dabo. Chelsea's no.11 went even closer from the resulting corner but his shot from close range was brilliantly cleared off the line, before Gnahore's effort was smothered behind by the overworked Boro keeper. Palmer might have added to our lead before the interval but his rising drive flew over after great work from Ola Aina.
Middlesbrough started the second period better but a change from Viveash on 55 reaped immediate dividends. He replaced Mukhtar Ali with Chike Kandi, leaving Solanke to drop deeper behind the substitute.
Within a couple of minutes of the change we had added two more goals. First, a lovely reverse pass from Solanke released Jordan Houghton, who finished emphatically with his left foot high beyond Fryer. Solanke then got the goal his performance merited. He started the move, setting Kandi free down the right. The substitute was denied by the base of the post, but Solanke was on hand to finish the move he started for his sixth goal of the season. Chelsea now led 4-0.
Boro tried to respond after the hour but Cooke's drive flashed just wide with Collins rooted to the spot.
Chelsea soon added a fifth goal, and what a goal it was. Kandi picked the ball up with his back to goal, turned away from two men and headed for goal. He danced his way through seemingly the whole Boro backline, some more than once, before finding space for a shot and lashing the ball past Fryer. It was a sumptuous end to a magnificent solo run, and an impressive way for the striker to open his account for the season.
Boro had looked pretty toothless in the final third and were restricted to long shots by Chelsea's impressive central defenders Brady and Dion Conroy. Kitching was next to try his luck from range but he couldn't hit the target as our youngsters did everything they could to ensure a first clean sheet since the opening game of the season. Though dangerous on the break, particularly through Kandi and substitute Tammy Abraham, we couldn't add to our impressive tally in the closing stages, eventually running out deserved 5-0 winners.
Chelsea (4-3-3): Bradley Collins; Ola Aina, Dion Conroy, George Brady, Jonathon Muleba (c); Mukhtar Ali (Chike Kandi 55), Kasey Palmer (Kyle Scott 60), Jordan Houghton; Fankaty Dabo, Dominic Solanke (Tammy Abraham 68), Ambrose Gnahore.
Unused subs: Ben Killip.
Middlesbrough: Joe Fryer; Priestley Griffiths, Joe Wheatley, Jonathan Coleby (Matthew Elsdon 54), John Helm; Dael Fry, Calum Cooke, Mark Kitching (c), Tom McAloon; Luke Armstrong (Matthew Wyke 65), Jordan Jones (Junior Mandal h/t).
Unused subs: Tom Dawson, Lewis Maloney.
- picture courtesy of Mark Sandom