Our development squad salvaged a Premier League 2 point after a strong second-half performance saw the Blues come back from a two-goal deficit to draw 2-2 with Leicester City.
A first-half double from George Hirst saw Leicester lead at the break. Hirst tapped home his first from close range early on for the opener before notching his second from the spot after 42 minutes.
Changes at the break sparked life into the Blues and Tino Anjorin seemed to inspire Chelsea to a solid point. Firstly, the midfielder struck the back of the net midway through the half, then his assist meant Thierno Ballo could head home the equaliser from close range with less than a minute left to play. It leaves us top of the PL2 table.
Andy Myers made four changes to the side which fell to defeat in the Leasing.com Trophy during the week. Goalkeeper Nicolas Tie was between the sticks while, fresh from senior team duty, Billy Gilmour and debutant Ian Maatsen returned to the side, with the former as captain.
The second player in the squad to make their senior debut on Tuesday night was Anjorin, who took a place on the bench. Meanwhile, Clinton Mola moved into the back-line allowing space for Henry Lawrence to move into midfield.
There were packed stands at Holmes Park and the supporters were almost gifted an early goal when Callum Wright’s cross dropped at the feet of Admiral Muskwe who was free in the centre, but an alert Tie made the save look much easier than it was.
The goal came no more than two minutes later after a freak moment at the back. Dynel Simeu passed back to Tie and our under-pressure keeper picked the ball up inside his box. While the Blues were trying to regain shape and defend the indirect free-kick, Leicester had other ideas and took it quickly allowing Hirst to tap home into an open net.
After Leicester’s quick start, the Blues began to retain possession of the ball, posing a threat of their own in offensive areas, but it was the hosts who should have doubled their tally on the counter after 15 minutes. Wright’s whipped cross found Hirst two yards from goal, but the striker failed to find the target from such close range.
The game settled down as the half wore on but the Blues found it difficult to conjure up any meaningful chances of their own. Just a minute after Ballo headed wide from George McEachran’s corner, Leicester’s Hirst squandered another chance in the box as he tapped into the stands from close range.
However, things took a turn for the worse when Hirst eventually got his second of the afternoon, this time from the spot. Referee David Richardson harshly adjudged Tie to have taken out Wright following a home free-kick and signalled for a penalty. That goal meant the Blues were two down at the break.
Myers made two chances during the interval, Jack Wakely and Anjorin introduced in place of Jon Russell and Simeu respectively. Both were like-for-like changes as the Blues looked for a response.
The reaction was almost instant as Anjorin smartly found Lawrence out wide, the forward skipped into the box and attempted to pick out the top corner with a fizzing right-footed effort but the ball whistled inches beyond the target.
The change paid off though 20 minutes later when this time Anjorin went for goal himself and found the net. He received the low centre from Ballo just outside the box and used his quick feet to dazzle his marker before curling into the top corner for the goal. It was game on at 2-1.
The Chelsea coaching team realised the team’s dominance in the second period and opted for another change in attack, George Nunn’s fresh legs taking Lawrence’s position on the left of the front three.
Full-back Tariq Lamptey looked lively in attack and seemed to have the beating of the Leicester back-line after his perfect first touch allowed him to advance into the box, but his finish from six yards out wasn’t accurate enough to trouble Viktor Johansson in between the sticks.
The hosts were battling to defend their lead but Chelsea couldn’t seem to find a way through. Maatsen sent a long-range effort over the target but with a lengthy period of injury time came a Chelsea goal. Ballo made no mistake to nod in from close range following Anjorin’s headed cross back into a well-packed danger area.
Next up for the Blues is a trip to Lille as the Under-19s continue their UEFA Youth League campaign in France.
Chelsea (4-2-3-1): Nicolas Tie; Tariq Lamptey, Dynel Simeu (Jack Wakely HT), Clinton Mola, Ian Maatsen; Billy Gilmour (c), George McEachran; Henry Lawrence (George Nunn 65), Jon Russell (Tino Anjorin HT), Thierno Ballo; Charlie Brown
Unused subs: Karlo Ziger, Levi Colwill
Scorers: Anjorin 64, Ballo 90
Leicester: Viktor Johansson, Mitchell Clark, Luke Thomas, Khanya Leshabela, Darnell Johnson, Calvin Ughelumba, George Thomas (c), Kieran Dewsbury-Hall, George Hurst (Ali Reghba 72), Callum Wright (vontae Daley-Campbell 68), Admiral Muskwe
Unused subs: Jakub Stolarczyk, Tyrese Shade, Josh Eppiah
Scorers: Hirst 4,41
Booked: Johnson 6, Muskwe 37, Reghba 78, Thomas 90
Referee: David Richardson