Checkatrade Trophy report: MK Dons 0 Chelsea 4

Our development squad recorded an impressive win in the Checkatrade Trophy to book themselves a place in the last-16.

Michy Batshuayi continued his comeback from a recent injury with 90 minutes of action and a brace, while there were also goals for Callum Hudson-Odoi and Charly Musonda as a strong Chelsea side blew away their League One opponents in Milton Keynes.

Edwards was able to field an experienced team for our first involvement in the knockout stages of this competition, with Batshuayi, Kenedy, Ethan Ampadu and Musonda among the starting 11.

The Belgian pair of Batshuayi and Musonda lined up in attack along with Hudson-Odoi as the Blues used a 3-4-3 system from the start. Eduardo was in goal protected by a back three of Reece James, Jake Clarke-Salter and Ampadu, while Dujon Sterling and Kenedy operated in the wing-back roles. Kyle Scott and Trevoh Chalobah comprised the central midfield pairing.

MK Dons made seven changes from their last outing in League One but it was the visitors who made the brighter start under the lights in chilly Buckinghamshire. Musonda warmed the palms of home goalkeeper Wieger Sietsma inside two minutes, the Dutchman forced into a smart save down low to his left to stop a powerful effort heading into the bottom corner.

Batshuayi’s overhead kick was then blocked following a low inswinging corner from the left before Hudson-Odoi, scorer of three of our six goals in the competition this campaign, sent a warning to Milton Keynes. The forward drifted infield dangerously from the left wing and took aim, steering the ball towards the far corner but without the sufficient bend to hit the target.

The hosts sent their first attempt at goal waywardly off-target as Robbie Muirhead misconnected with his strike before James made a crucial block to thwart Ryan Seager’s shot on the spin just 15 yards out. Just as MK Dons were settling after 20 minutes, Edwards’s side made them pay on the counter-attack.

Ampadu retrieved possession with a good tackle and initiated the attack, with play allowed to continue by the referee after Chalobah was cynically brought down. Scott picked up the loose ball and threaded a neat pass forward for Batshuayi, who cut inside on to his right foot and produced a thumping finish into the bottom corner.

The goal brought a calm to the contest as Chelsea sat contentedly on their lead and Robbie Neilson’s side tried to work out a way back into the tie. Seager went close to quickly restoring parity, the on-loan Southampton man stretching to reach Muirhead’s teasing delivery from the left but failing to keep his diving header down.

Sterling’s strength and direct running helped him stand out as a frequent source of anxiety for the hosts and one run in particular appeared to open up an opportunity, though the wing-back’s centre was cut out at the front post before it could reach a team-mate.

It was another blistering break that saw the Blues double their advantage minutes before half-time. Gboly Ariyibi went close to getting on the end of a corner for MK Dons but Chelsea’s response was ruthless as Hudson-Odoi led the charge forward into the opposition half. Releasing the supporting Kenedy down the left, the Brazilian looked up and delivered a simple cross for Batshuayi to turn in with a first-time finish. It was one box to the other in seconds, an attack that was too quick, precise and clinical for the hosts to handle.

A three-goal deficit by the interval was probably a tad harsh on the League One side but when Hudson-Odoi’s strike from 25 yards was spilled by Sietsma and squirmed over the line, our place in the last-16 edged a little closer. It was a horrible moment for the home keeper and Hudson-Odoi’s celebrations were muted, though the teenager was clearly pleased to have netted his fourth goal in three Checkatrade Trophy games this season.

The hosts returned for the restart on the front foot and more purposeful in attack. Golbourne’s inswinging free-kick needed clawing away to safety by Eduardo, the 35-year-old taking a hefty whack in the process.

A key difference between the sides was our extra quality in the box and that proved instrumental as we went 4-0 up after 56 minutes. The Belgian duo of Batshuayi and Musonda combined to great effect, the latter left baring down on goal after a neat flick from the striker and Musonda providing the finish to slide the ball into the bottom far corner.

There was still defending required of the visitors to claim their first clean sheet in the competition. The home threat centred on set-pieces and regular deliveries into the box needed shepherding from goal. Ampadu tracked the run of Aidan Nesbitt and made a good block following a quick free-kick taken by George Williams, while Ed Upson dragged an effort wide from just outside the box.

Eduardo’s first save of significance came in the final 15 minutes as he made a good stop to parry Brandon Thomas-Asante’s rasping effort behind for a corner before positioning himself well to grasp a close-range header.

Kenedy was kept out by Sietsma down the other end, although this contest had long since been settled on a professional and productive night for Edwards and his side. The Blues will find out their round-of-16 opponents in Friday’s draw.

 

Chelsea (3-4-3) Eduardo; Reece James, Ethan Ampadu, Jake Clarke-Salter (c); Dujon Sterling, Trevoh Chalobah (Ruben Sammut 72), Kyle Scott (Isaac Christie-Davies 82), Kenedy; Charly Musonda, Michy Batshuayi, Callum Hudson-Odoi (Kylian Hazard 72)
Unused subs Martell Taylor-Crossdale, Marcin Bulka, Josh Grant, Jacob Maddox
Scorers Batshuayi 22, 42; Hudson-Odoi 45; Musonda 56
Booked Scott 74

MK Dons Wieger Sietsma, George Williams (c), Joe Walsh, Scott Wooton, Gboly Ariyibi (Peter Pawlett 65), Scott Golbourne, Ryan Seager (Sam Nombe 53), Robbie Muirhead, Conor McGrandles (Ed Upson 65), Aidan Nesbitt, Brandon Thomas-Asante
Unused subs Lee Nicholls, Chuks Aneke, Kieran Agard, David Kasumu
Booked Muirhead 39; Nombe 55; Williams 58

Referee Gavin Ward
Crowd 1549