Under-21 report: Norwich 2 Chelsea 2

Chelsea Under-21s earned a deserved point on the road as they came from behind twice against Norwich at Carrow Road this evening (Friday).

A close-range finish from Conor McGrandles had put the home side in front before Ola Aina prodded in from a couple of yards out 11 minutes later. Tony Andreu’s header sent the Canaries in ahead at half-time but Chelsea came back strongly in the second period and earned a league point courtesy of Charly Musonda.

There were four changes from the side that were beaten 3-1 by Southampton a fortnight previously, with Mitchell Beeney, Aina, Kyle Scott and Kasey Palmer coming into the team. Aina lined up alongside Dion Conroy, Jake Clarke-Salter and Fankaty Dabo in defence, protecting Beeney in goal.

Jay Dasilva and John Swift started in central midfield, with Musonda, Palmer and Scott providing the attacking support for striker Tammy Abraham .

Norwich carved out a good opportunity within a couple of minutes of kick-off as Elliott Bennett, one of three overage players involved for the Canaries, advanced down the right flank. He delivered a teasing centre across the face of goal which Jamar Loza met with a close-range diving header, however Beeney got down low to push the effort away to safety.

Viveash’s side, in the new white away strip, grew into the contest and a neat passing move from back to front saw Musonda slide a perfect pass through for Abraham. It was the same pair who had combined for a late winner at Liverpool in our opening game of the campaign, though the striker’s effort on this occasion lacked the conviction to trouble Jake Kean in the Norwich goal.

Afolabi Coker did well to block Musonda’s fierce effort following Swift’s pass out to the right before Palmer twice went close as his stinging effort was palmed away by Kean and then a rising drive flew narrowly over following a neat touch to set up the sight at goal.

Norwich took the lead shortly after with 26 minutes on the clock, Bennett finding space to cross from the right again and finding the well-timed run from midfield of McGrandles, who steered the ball past Beeney from eight yards out.

The Yellows controlled proceedings for a period after taking the lead but failed to trouble Beeney further and the visitors restored parity in the game eight minutes before the interval. A quick break was initiated by Abraham with Musonda tearing clear down the middle and a corner was won, from which Swift flicked the ball towards the back post and Aina prodded in from a yard out for his maiden Under-21 goal.

Scott and Musonda had efforts blocked bravely as the visitors grew into the ascendancy with confidence, however Norwich took the lead once again in stoppage time as Andreu rose highest to nod in Bennett’s brilliant swinging free-kick.

The second period began at a slower pace and neither goalkeeper had reason to worry inside the opening quarter of an hour, yet Chelsea had restarted brightly and were rewarded with another leveller just after the hour mark. Musonda and Palmer combined intricately in the box to fashion an opportunity and the Belgian made no mistake with his finish, sliding the ball low into the corner.

Viveash’s side were on top and Musonda again threatened with a shot that was comfortable for the goalkeeper, before Kean got down well to his left to push substitute Reece Mitchell’s low strike round the post.

Canaries captain Louis Thompson sliced off-target from a good position as the home side provided a reminder of their threat but the Blues looked brighter as the game opened up in the final exchanges. Palmer’s swerving shot was pushed away expertly by Kean at one end, before Conroy produced an excellent sliding challenge to block Loza’s shot following McGrandles’ teasing pass from the right.

Bennett was kept out by Beeney and then Aina’s drive flew straight into Kean’s midriff as both sides looked for the game’s fifth goal late on. However, a winner could not be found as the league points were shared.


Manager reaction

Speaking after the game, manager Adi Viveash reflected on a strong performance against an older side in which he felt his team were worthy of more than just a point.

'It's a very good point for us but, given the way we played for the majority of the game, I'm a little disappointed that we drew,' he told the official Chelsea website.

'We've conceded soft goals and that's disappointing. The first is a midfield runner going past us where we haven't picked him up and the second came after we'd worked so hard to get back into the game. It's a poor free-kick to concede and then we just dodn't mark but we were much better in the second half and created a lot of problems for them.

'Their goalkeeper had an outstanding night and made some brilliant saves. Musonda and Palmer really took control of the game, they played some scintillating football and the second goal was a great example of that; speed, awareness, technique and balance is everything you want from young footballers.

'We came here to be a bit more expansive because we haven't looked much of a goal threat in our first two games but it was a high-level game in front of a fantastic crowd so we're pleased with that.'


Chelsea Mitchell Beeney; Ola Aina, Dion Conroy, Jake Clarke-Salter, Fankaty Dabo; Jay Dasilva, John Swift; Charly Musonda, Kyle Scott (Reece Mitchell h/t), Kasey Palmer; Tammy Abraham (c)
Unused subs Bradley Collins, Kevin Wright, Josimar Quintero, Ali Suljic
Scorers Aina 37; Musonda 64
Booked Swift, Dabo

Norwich Jake Kean, Reece Hall-Johnson, Martin Olsson (Harry Toffolo h/t), Louis Thompson (c), Michee Efete, Afolabi Coker, Elliott Bennett, Conor McGrandles, Jamar Loza, Tony Andreu, Cameron King (Jamie Eaton-Collins 76)
Unused subs Cameron Norman, Ben Killip, Ray Grant
Scorers McGrandles 26; Andreu 45+2
Booked Thompson

Attendance 9,146

- Highlights of the game are available below, subject to Fan Club Plus membership.

Highlights: Norwich City U21s (A) 15/16

28/08/2015 Duration: 4m 26s