Frank Lampard’s reign as Chelsea head coach started with a draw in Dublin as Michy Batshuayi’s early goal was cancelled out late on in our first pre-season game of the summer.
A total of 22 players were used over the 90 minutes as our new coaching team shared the minutes equally between those who had arrived in the Irish capital last Friday. The second group, which arrived on Monday, were not involved.
Batshuayi struck with just eight minutes on the clock, firing into the net after Kenedy’s shot had fallen kindly for him in the 18-yard box. Billy Gilmour and Tiemoue Bakayoko went closest to extending our lead after the interval but the Blues were unable to add to their tally and paid the price when conceding a late equaliser.
Next up is a meeting with St Patrick’s Athletic on Saturday evening. Before then, the team will return to their Dublin base to continue their pre-season work.
Lampard started with a mixture of youth and experience as he named his first line-up since returning to the club as boss. Willy Caballero lined up behind a back four featuring skipper Cesar Azpilicueta and Kenedy, with Danny Drinkwater, Ethan Ampadu and Academy Player of the Year Conor Gallagher in midfield. Batshuayi led the attack supported by Pedro and Kasey Palmer.
Driving rain greeted the players and new coaching staff as they arrived at Dalymount Park, though the clouds soon parted ahead of kick-off. There was also a minute’s applause in memory of Chelsea fan Oran Tully, who passed away last year at the age of 19 after suffering from a serious illness.
The Blues started in a 4-2-3-1 shape with Gallagher as the most advanced midfielder and they settled quickly against the side currently third in the League of Ireland Premier Division. It took just eight minutes for our first goal of pre-season to arrive and it was the returning Batshuayi, on loan at Crystal Palace for the second part of last season, who opened the scoring.
Kenedy advanced forward from left-back and took aim from the edge of the box, though his effort looked to be flying wide before it struck our Belgian striker. The ball fell kindly into his path and the finish was confidently dispatched into the roof of the net, beyond the sprawling dive of goalkeeper James Talbot.
The visitors dominated possession throughout the opening quarter of the contest and their fitness levels looked sharp against opponents two-thirds of the way through their league season. Pedro fired a free-kick over from a promising position before Gallagher missed the target following a bright attack down the right.
There was no lack of bite in midfield as Ampadu and Drinkwater remained unrelenting in the tackle despite it being a pre-season contest, though the Bohs slowly grew into the game and forced Caballero into his first save 10 minutes before the break. Former Brighton youngster Danny Mandriou burst into a shooting position from midfield but his effort was punched clear by our Argentinian keeper.
Chelsea returned for the second period with an entirely different team, headlined by Davide Zappacosta from last year’s squad, along with returning loanees Bakayoko, Kurt Zouma and Izzy Brown.
It was a bright restart from the Blues and they were unfortunate not to extend their advantage in the 10 minutes after the break. Gilmour proved an immediate threat in an attacking midfield role and the Scotland Under-21 international fired into the side-netting early on before Bakayoko watched as the Bohiemans’ number one scrambled to keep out his fierce swerving strike.
Gilmour then went closest to a second at the end of a move he started in the middle of the field with a pass sprayed to the right for Lucas Piazon. The Brazilian returned the favour by finding the 18-year old 20 yards from goal and his quick footwork fashioned the opportunity to shoot, though Talbot did well to get down low and push the teenager’s effort away to safety.
Fitness remained the aim of the game in the second half and Bohemians also made a raft of substitutions, though the pace of the contest slowed a little as the game went on. The hosts were able to create more testing chances for Jamie Cumming, our second half keeper, but lacked the requisite accuracy to find the target.
However, in the final minutes of the game, the Irishmen were able to find a way through as trialist Eric Molloy created a memorable individual moment for himself by lashing in a leveller.
There was still time for Ike Ugbo to threaten an even later winner after Zappacosta won possession high up the right wing, though the forward’s dinked effort over the onrushing keeper stopped just short of the goal-line. From the ensuing scramble, Brown drilled the ball across the face of goal but Bohemians survived and held on for a draw.
Lampard’s side will now resume their hard work on the training pitches before their next outing in three days against St Patrick’s.
First Half Chelsea XI (4-2-3-1) Caballero; Sterling, Azpilicueta (c), Guehi, Kenedy; Ampadu, Drinkwater; Pedro, Gallagher, Palmer; Batshuayi
Second Half Chelsea XI Cumming; Zappacosta, Chalobah, Zouma, Maatsen; Baker, Bakayoko; Piazo, Gilmour, Brown; Ugbo
Scorer Batshuayi 8