Our development squad tested themselves against the senior side from Sutton United at Cobham this afternoon (Wednesday), battling to a creditable 0-0 draw.
Adi Viveash’s side had an average age almost 10 years younger than their visitors, who are currently mid-table in English football’s fifth tier. However, the lack of experience did not show as the hosts competed throughout a physical contest.
The Blues enjoyed the better chances before the interval. Ruben Sammut (pictured top), who received a maiden Scotland Under-21 call-up this week, volleyed wide before Josimar Quintero placed a curling effort just the wrong side of the post as they started brightly in the Cobham sunshine.
Bradley Hudson-Odoi, the older brother of youth team regular Callum, brought a routine save from Jared Thompson from a free-kick, while Sammut’s header and then Jay Dasilva’s low strike threatened the goal down the other end. Harvey St Clair’s rising drive flew narrowly over before the non-league side rallied in the second period.
Hudson-Odoi struck over the bar before we weathered a five-minute storm in which Sutton hit the woodwork and saw two efforts cleared off the line. The first of those involved a combination of Joseph Colley and Thompson somehow scrambling the ball away from danger when it seemed like the deadlock would surely be broken.
It was a team of teenagers that had started for the home side and their resilience was tested but they demonstrated admirable fight and effort as the second half progressed. Dasilva’s curling effort missed the target as the game opened up but the encounter ended goalless as our youngsters enjoyed a testing workout.
After the game, assistant manager Ian Howell reflected on a positive afternoon’s work and cited it as a useful experience heading into our two upcoming Checkatrade Trophy ties against senior opponents.
‘It was very beneficial for the lads,’ he told the official Chelsea website. ‘It’s the sort of challenge we know they’re going to face moving forward in their careers, experiencing those sort of battles and having to compete in those physical confrontations.
‘The players need to see the dark arts of the game like people blocking your runs and pulling your shirt. We’ve got Oxford United and Exeter City coming up in the Checkatrade Trophy so it gives the lads an idea of what they’re likely to come up against because those will be quite different games to Swindon in the last fixture.
‘Sutton were well-organised so we had to figure out when we had the opportunities to play a little quicker and use a bit more quality in the final third. We still had opportunities, created chances and found some little moments of fluidity but we know we need to keep working on those areas of our game in the final third.’
Our development squad return to action in Premier League 2 on Friday 14 October with a trip to Leicester City. Before then, Jody Morris's youth team take on West Ham at Cobham this Saturday 1 October live on Chelsea TV from 11am.
Chelsea Jared Thompson; Joseph Colley, Richard Nartey (Kyle Scott 61), Fikayo Tomori; Cole Dasilva (Fankaty Dabo 61), Mukhtar Ali, Ruben Sammut, Josimar Quintero (Isaac Christie-Davies h/t), Jay Dasilva; Harvey St Clair (Ike Ugbo 61), Miro Muheim