There was a win and a defeat for our Academy teams at Cobham today as friendly action filled the fixture schedule in the absence of competitive football this weekend.
Joe Edwards’s development squad were first up against Queens Park Rangers this morning and ran out 4-0 winners, with all four goals coming in the first half. A strong team featured Billy Gilmour, Conor Gallagher, Daishawn Redan and Charlie Brown from the start, while Rangers lined up with former West Ham captain Nigel Reo-Coker in the heart of their midfield.
The scoring was opened after seven minutes before Richard Nartey doubled the lead midway through the half, turning in a corner from close range. Strike duo Redan and Brown added further goals before the break, the latter capitalising on a defensive mistake to round the goalkeeper and slot in.
Our Under-18s were next up later in the day, with Joe Cole in the dugout for the first time since returning to the club as a technical academy coach. Wolverhampton Wanderers were the opposition and the visitors had an early opportunity to take the lead from the penalty spot, though Nicolas Tie saved down low from 12 yards out.
Armando Broja went close for the young Blues in the first half before Wolves took the lead midway through the second period. However, their advantage was short-lived as Thierno Ballo restored parity, latching on to Henry Lawrence’s pass to finish neatly beyond the goalkeeper.
With the scores level heading into the final 10 minutes, it was the side from the Midlands who emerged victorious, finding the game’s third goal after a quick break down the left. Our youngsters return to league action away at Arsenal on Saturday 2 February, while the development squad travel to Derby County two days later in Premier League 2.
-In other news today, Charlie Colkett has joined Swedish side Ostersunds in a permanent transfer and Academy defender Jack Wakely has joined Basingstoke Town on loan until the end of the season.
Colkett departs Stamford Bridge having helped our Academy sides win both the FA Youth Cup and UEFA Youth League. The 22-year-old midfielder featured in every game as we won the Youth Cup in 2013/14, before skippering the side to success in the same competition a year later. He has had loan spells at Bristol Rovers, Swindon Town and Vitesse Arnhem, before spending the first half of this campaign on loan at Shrewsbury Town. We thank Charlie for his service and wish him the best of luck for the future.
Meanwhile, Wakely will continue his development in the Southern Premier South Division for the remainder of the campaign. The 18-year-old joined the Chelsea Academy as an Under-9 and made his debut for our Under-18s on the opening day of last season.
-Pictures courtesy of Mark Sandom