First friendlies for Academy teams

Pre-season action got underway for our development squads today (Saturday) as both the Under-18s and Under-21s kicked off their preparations for the new 2014/15 campaign.

The Under-21s travelled to Conference South side Sutton United and played out a 0-0 draw against older opposition in front of 1738 spectators.

Bradley Collins saved strongly and Charly Musonda hit a free kick narrowly over in a quiet first period before the Blues found more attacking initiative after the break. Jordan Houghton and Kasey Palmer both hit the woodwork, while Musonda’s left-footed drive flew inches over the bar late on.

New scholars Mukhtar Ali and Jake Clarke-Salter featured, while regulars from last season’s FA Youth Cup run including Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Ola Aina, Isak Ssewankambo, Charlie Colkett, Alex Kiwomya and Fankaty Dabo were all involved over the 90 minutes.

Jordan Houghton

Adi Viveash, stepping up to work with the Under-21 group after three successful years with the youth team, reflected afterwards on a tough workout in the July sunshine.

‘It’s the first time I can remember us coming back with a game inside seven days of returning to training so I think that showed a little bit but it’s about physical fitness in these first few matches and the boys have played some strong minutes today,’ he said.

‘It’s also important for us to build belief so to get a clean sheet is good for everyone. We had much more invention in the final third in the second half and we’ve competed well against older opponents, which is always a test. It’s been interesting for me to watch and see how the new group of staff work together as well and we all have four or five weeks to find our feet.

‘The biggest thing for us at the minute though is how many players we have working over with the first team. They’ve gone over, done well and a lot of them are here today supporting the group, so that’s given everyone a boost this week.’

Earlier in the day at Cobham, an Under-18 side consisting predominantly of schoolboys beat Bournemouth 4-1 thanks to goals from new scholars Charlie Wakefield and Kyle Scott, as well as Under-16s Ike Ugbo and Danny Kemp.

New youth team boss Joe Edwards used the opportunity to give 20 players their first minutes of pre-season, with Ruben Sammut, Isaac Christie-Davies, Faiq Bolkiah, Miro Muheim, Hubert Adamczyk and Fikayo Tomori among those involved.

England youth international Wakefield put the youngsters ahead after five minutes, before Scott finished off a neat move with a confident finish beyond the onrushing goalkeeper. Ugbo, who created the opening two goals, got himself on the scoresheet before the interval, before Kemp added a fourth late on.

‘The main thing in pre-season is to give everyone minutes, to get them back out on the pitch after a week of training and to get them through it,’ Edwards told the official Chelsea website. ‘We’ve also played some really good football today with a lot of young players involved. It’s nice for the boys to start off with a win because it’s important for them to feel that confidence when they’re playing a year or two up with the Under-18s.

‘We spoke beforehand about letting the ball do the work and controlling the game, especially in the heat, and we did that well. Bournemouth are quite a strong, physical side but we were able to deal with that by using the ball well.’

Next up in the Under-21s’ pre-season programme is a trip to face Aldershot on Friday, 18 July, while the youth team host Luton at Cobham the following afternoon.