UNDER-21S WIN WARM-UP AWAY
The Under-21s got their domestic pre-season campaign off to a good start at Sutton United last night with a 4-0 win over their hosts from the Conference South.
Goals from Alex Kiwomya (pictured), Isaiah Brown and John Swift rounded off an impressive evening's work for Dermot Drummy's boys.
The group had previously spent a week and a half in the USA as part of their preparations for the new season, taking in matches against the U23 sides from both the Philadelphia Union and the New York Red Bulls. The former ended in a 1-1 draw, with Kiwomya finding the back of the net, while the latter saw the young Blues triumph 2-1 thanks to goals from Swift and Kiwomya once more.
However, after flying home last week and continuing with the rigours of pre-season training over the weekend, it was the more local climes of south-west London where Drummy's side picked up their pre-season action. There were first Chelsea appearances on English soil for recent signings Brown and Cristian Cuevas.
As ever in pre-season the emphasis was on sharing the minutes around the group and ensuring all the players continue improving their match fitness after the summer break, thus there were effectively a different side for each half, with 10 changes at the interval. In the first period the visitors were comfortable and confident in possession of the ball without managing to fashion many real opportunities in front of goal.
Lewis Baker, captain for the evening, had a headed chance fly wide before Cuevas was an inch away from kicking his Chelsea career off with a bang, only to see his effort arrow narrowly the wrong side of the far post. It took a defensive error for the Blues to get a half-time lead that they had probably deserved, as the Sutton right-back's careless pass across defence was intercepted by Kiwomya and turned into an unguarded net.
The second half saw a raft of new faces enter the fray, including last season's FA Youth Cup final goalscorer Jeremie Boga, Alex Davey and Swift, and was a far more open affair to entertain the 2,577 in attendance at the Borough Sports Ground. Boga's introduction brought a sparkle to proceedings and it wasn't long before the Frenchman left two defenders on the ground as he broke in behind, only to see his final effort well saved down low by the Sutton goalkeeper.
However the man between the sticks for the hosts was beaten shortly afterwards as Brown bagged his first goal for his new club, expertly rounding the keeper after being played in behind and dispatching into an empty net. Two late goals then added an extra gloss on the scoreline.
It was a satisfying evening then for Drummy and his side, who next head to Colwyn Bay on Saturday for a clash with the Conference North side currently managed by former Blues defender and Chelsea TV regular Frank Sinclair.