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Development squad return to action

Our development squad capped 10 days of pre-season training in Spain with their first friendly outing of the summer this afternoon (Saturday) as they travelled to the London borough of Hillingdon to take on Northwood.

The visit marked the inaugural meeting of the sides in the Pete Barry Memorial Trophy. Before his passing in 2016, Pete was a former scout in our youth set-up and latterly a driver for our young players, most notably Todd Kane. His son, Ian, is currently Northwood chairman.

Joe Edwards takes the reins of the young Blues once again this term, though he will be assisted by a new number two in the form of Ed Brand following the appointment of Andy Myers as Under-18s coach. The pair selected a youthful looking side to start in the July sunshine, with this likely to remain a predominantly teenage team throughout the season, despite Premier League 2 being an Under-23 competition.

After falling behind to an early header from James Ewington, the visitors grew into the contest and played some eye-catching football over the 90 minutes. They could count themselves unfortunate not to register their first goal of the pre-season campaign, with Charlie Brown and Daishawn Redan both denied by home goalkeeper Luke Sheldrick, the latter following a wonderful move involving Marcel Lavinier and new scholar Ian Maatsen.

Juan Castillo in action for the Blues at Northwood.

After the game, Edwards reflected on the work of the past fortnight and his side’s first runout of pre-season.

‘It was overall a really positive exercise for us,’ he told the official Chelsea website. ‘Obviously we’re Chelsea so we like winning games but at this stage of the season that’s definitely quite far down the priority list.

‘It was a game that comes at the end of a really tough nine-day period for the lads. We’ve pushed them hard in La Manga and got some really good training done but it’s a young group this year and for them to put in that volume of training, fly back last night and then go straight into a game against a physically strong team was always going to be a test.

'It’s a different place to come to, especially considering our last few games of last season were at Stamford Bridge, the Emirates and Anfield, so you’re testing the character and attitude of the players but I thought we were spot-on in those departments.

photo of Joe Edwards Joe Edwards

'In the last 25 minutes, you could see a team desperate to get something from the game and that’s a positive sign because we only really came here to build on our fitness and conditioning.

‘We’ve got two more games against men’s teams next week and a number of the boys will play for us in the Checkatrade Trophy this season so it’s good they’ve had a first taste of that already. The conditions were hot but everyone got good minutes under their belts and there some really good pointers for us to build on going into the games next week.’

Edwards’s side will return to action on Wednesday evening away at Woking. Kick-off at the Laithwaite Community Stadium is 7.45pm and tickets can be purchased at the ground priced at £10 for adults and £5 for concessions, with under-16s admitted entry for free.

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