A Chelsea development squad featuring a number of first-team players came from behind to win an entertaining contest at Cobham this afternoon (Monday).
Michy Batshuayi bagged a brace for the Blues, levelling the scores on both occasions after Southampton had gone ahead through Olufela Olomola and Josh Sims. The Belgian international’s second strike came on 87 minutes after a half of relentless attacking from the hosts, before Marco van Ginkel netted a wonderful winner in added time. The win sees Adi Viveash’s side leap to fourth in the league table.
John Terry, Cesc Fabregas and Batshuayi joined Kurt Zouma and Van Ginkel in a strong starting side, with the latter pair having featured for Adi Viveash’s team in recent weeks on their return from injury absences.
With Premier League 2 rules allowing for up to three over-age outfield players, plus an over-age goalkeeper, the hosts maximised that opportunity with Terry, Fabregas and Van Ginkel filling the berths, plus Portuguese international keeper Eduardo.
Fikayo Tomori joined Terry and Zouma in a back three protecting Eduardo in goal, with Viveash opting once again for a 3-4-3 system. Ola Aina and captain Fankaty Dabo lined up at wing-back, with Fabregas partnering Van Ginkel in midfield. Batshuayi led the line up front supported by Mason Mount and Dominic Solanke.
Chelsea controlled the early proceedings but fell behind after seven minutes as Southampton scored with their first attack. A well-worked move fashioned against the run of play allowed Olomola the space to fire into the bottom corner beyond Eduardo’s dive.
It took just two minutes for us to level the scores down the other end. Batshuayi picked up possession with a neat turn midway into the Saints half and advanced towards goal menacingly, shrugging off the challenge of two defenders before firing a brilliant drive into the far corner from 20 yards out.
Viveash’s side were now on the hunt for more goals and the lively Mount was central to their attacking threat. He supplied a teasing cross for Solanke following bright play down the right but the 19-year-old failed to hit the target on the stretch. Mount then went close to converting Tomori’s cross before a strike from distance was charged down after a wonderful first touch had manoeuvred him into space.
The visitors were back in front after 16 minutes as they scored once again from a rare forward foray. Sims headed infield towards goal from the left flank and his deflected drive deceived Eduardo and flew into the opposite side of the goal.
Headers from Van Ginkel and Solanke tested Harry Lewis in the Saints goal before appeals from Batshuayi for a penalty were waved away by the referee, despite it appearing as if the striker had been pulled back as he prepared to shoot. The Belgian's looping attempt dipped narrowly over the crossbar late in the opening half following another clever pass from Mount as the hosts went into the interval trailing.
Viveash’s side started the second period positively and ought to have found the equaliser in the early stages of the restart. Dabo headed over at the back post before Solanke rattled the crossbar following a neat exchange with Batshuayi.
The Blues had threatened with a number of corners throughout as Fabregas’s deliveries caused problems for Southampton’s defenders. A driven set-piece from the right was met perfectly by Terry but Batshuayi diverted the ball wide from close range.
The traffic continued to flow in one direction as the half progressed. Zouma fired into the side-netting before Fabregas twice brought good stops from Lewis with efforts from distance, the second of which was tipped expertly over the bar.
Lewis palmed Solanke’s drive away to safety and Zouma saw a header hooked off the line as the Blues continued to be kept at bay. Dujon Sterling’s introduction at right wing-back for the final 20 minutes had an impact but, despite the relentless onslaught laid on the Saints goal, it looked like it was going to be one of those days in front of goal.
Solanke missed from just a few yards out at the back post following another perfect Fabregas corner before the game’s dramatic finale. Batshuayi grabbed the well-deserved equaliser that had been a long time coming with just three minutes remaining, his curling effort expertly planted into the far corner.
With the clock moving into stoppage time, the hosts sealed all three points as Van Ginkel thumped a brilliant right-footed shot beyond Lewis to make it 3-2 and ensure the Blues leapfrog Southampton in the table.
Chelsea (3-4-3) Eduardo; Kurt Zouma, John Terry (Dujon Sterling 70), Fikayo Tomori; Fankaty Dabo, Cesc Fabregas, Marco van Ginkel, Ola Aina; Dominic Solanke, Michy Batshuayi, Mason Mount (Ike Ugbo 70)
Unused subs Bradley Collins, Isaac Christie-Davies, Kyle Scott
Scorers Batshuayi 9, 87; Van Ginkel 90+1
Southampton (4-2-3-1) Harry Lewis; Richard Bakary, , Florin Gardos, Alfie Jones (c), Jake Vokins; Callum Slattery, Jake Flannigan (Harley Willard h/t); Lloyd Isgrove, Thomas O’Connor, Josh Sims; Olufela Olomola (Marcus Barnes 63)
Unused subs Will Wood, Adam Parkes, Ollie Cook
Scorers Olomola 7; Sims 16
Referee Dean Treleavan
-Additional pictures courtesy of Mark Sandom
The game can be viewed in full on Chelsea TV at 7pm.