Our development squad went down to a narrow league defeat in Berkshire this evening (Monday).
The young Blues led at the break courtesy of Ike Ugbo’s header but an equaliser from Tyler Frost seven minutes into the second period and a winner from substitute Sam Smith five minutes from time turned the game around and inflicted a first Premier League 2 defeat of the season on Adi Viveash’s side at the Madejski Stadium.
Adi Viveash made five changes from last week’s Checkatrade Trophy debut with goalkeeper Mitchell Beeney replacing Bradley Collins between the sticks. Beeney, like Jake Clarke-Salter, made a loan switch to the Football League in the summer but both are permitted to play at this level as part of the development loan rules.
Dujon Sterling, Trevoh Chalobah and captain Jay Dasilva joined Clarke-Salter in the back four, while Ruben Sammut and Mukhtar Ali returned in central midfield. Ike Ugbo continued to lead the line up front supported by Charlie Wakefield, Mason Mount and Miro Muheim. Six of the Chelsea starters lined up in the FA Youth Cup quarter-final when these sides met last term.
Ali was one of that contingent and he looked to threaten early on, following his brilliant strike last time out at Swindon Town. Sterling had fashioned the opportunity with good work down the right and teed up the midfielder, whose shot was bravely blocked behind.
The Blues were playing some lovely, crisp football as they controlled possession in the opening 20 minutes. Chalobah scuffed a shot wide at the end of a flowing move before the hosts carved out a great chance for Harry Cardwell to break the deadlock. Joshua Barrett advanced down the right as the Royals broke forward quickly and his low cross was perfect for the striker, though Cardwell got it all wrong as he mistimed his kick completely.
Our threat grew stronger as the half progressed, with home goalkeeper Stuart Moore kept increasingly busy. The stopper pushed away Wakefield’s low centre before saving from Ugbo as the striker tried to bend a strike into the corner of the goal.
The number nine then saw a fierce drive blocked by Zak Jules before Mount went close with a trio of efforts late in the half. The midfielder first rattled the woodwork as a curling shot clipped the far post before Moore twice denied him with good low saves.
Jules fired over from Barrett’s right-sided corner before Viveash’s side took the lead two minutes before the break. A quick counter-attack fashioned the chance as Wakefield supplied from the right and Ugbo arrived right on cue to head beyond the helpless goalkeeper.
Reading responded after the interval and were level within seven minutes of the restart. A neat exchange between Frost and Andrija Novakovich teed up the chance for Frost to take with a composed finish in off the far post.
The hosts were nearly ahead moments later. Barrett escaped in behind down the right channel and looked for the far corner but Beeney denied him with a flailing right leg. The Blues regrouped but the second period was a more even affair as Reading grew in confidence.
Mount’s shot was blocked again, this time by Thomas McIntyre, before substitute Josimar Quintero missed the target when well-positioned in the 18-yard box. It was Viveash’s side that looked likely to snatch a late winner as the game ticked by. Dasilva’s left-footed free-kick flew wide and Ugbo fired a powerful strike straight at Moore before the hosts won all three points late on.
Smith had only been on the field for three minutes when he was handed a great opportunity, riding a tackle from Chalobah to steer the ball beyond Beeney into the far corner.
The development squad return to action with a Stamford Bridge derby against Arsenal this Friday 23 September. Tickets are currently on general sale priced at just £5 for adults and £3 for concessions.
Chelsea (4-2-3-1) Mitchell Beeney; Dujon Sterling, Jake Clarke-Salter, Trevoh Chalobah, Jay Dasilva; Mukhtar Ali, Ruben Sammut; Charlie Wakefield, Mason Mount (Isaac Christie-Davies 75), Miro Muheim (Josimar Quintero 59); Ike Ugbo
Unused subs Fankaty Dabo, Jamie Cumming, Joseph Colley
Scorer Ugbo 43
Reading (4-1-4-1) Stuart Moore (c); Jake Sheppard, Thomas McIntyre, Zak Jules, Shane Griffin; Harrison Bennett (Ryan East 72); Joshua Barrett (Terrence van Cooten 65), Andy Rinomhota, Tyler Frost, Andrija Novakovich; Harry Cardwell (Sam Smith 82)
Unused subs Luke Southwood, Axel Andresson
Scorers Frost 52; Smith 85
Booked Griffin, Rinomhota
Referee Mr D Rock
-Pictures courtesy of Mark Sandom.