Checkatrade Trophy: The journey so far

Our development squad continue preparations to face the side seventh in League One as the Checkatrade Trophy returns to Stamford Bridge this week.

Seats remain on sale for the last-16 contest against Peterborough this Wednesday 9 January, with kick-off at 7pm, and tickets can be bought online or at the ticket office now priced at just £5 for adults and £3 for juniors (under-20) and seniors (65 and over).

Joe Edwards’ side have beaten senior opposition from the third and fourth tiers of English football already this campaign and here the official Chelsea website looks back on their journey so far…

Impressive start

It was an August trip to Wiltshire that kicked off the 2018/19 season for our youngsters, with the visitors boosted by the inclusion of Fanktay Dabo, Charly Musonda and Ike Ugbo prior to their loan departures later in the month.

Swindon Town were the hosts at the County Ground but the Robins swiftly had their wings clipped as Charlie Brown opened the scoring after 15 minutes, converting Juan Castillo’s perfect low cross from six yards out.

Musonda doubled the lead after half hour from the penalty spot before Brown added his second with a composed one-on-one finish after the restart. Ugbo rounded off an impressive start to the season with a late fourth to ensure three early points on the board in Southern Group C.

‘It was a fantastic team performance,’ said Edwards afterwards. ‘The scoreline is emphatic but I don’t think it flatters us because we could easily have had a few more goals.’

Struggle in south Wales

Jamille Matt headed Newport County into a 2-0 lead with goals either side of the interval before substitute Antoine Semenyo added a third in stoppage time as the Blues found it difficult in Wales against a side with an average age four years older.

Daishawn Redan went closest for the visitors but they were unable to turn controlled possession in periods into any notable chances at goal.

Edwards urged his young players to learn lessons from the defeat in the aftermath. ‘We did a lot of good things for large portions of the game so we feel the 3-0 scoreline is harsh but this is a learning experience for our boys,' he said.

‘Sometimes in this competition, I learn more about a player in one game than in four or five other games that they play in. We’re disappointed but sometimes you need disappointment to properly take the lesson in.’

Perfect in Plymouth

A five-star performance in Devon secured a place in the knockout round for our development squad and, ultimately, top spot in the group for the first time.

Brown headed us in front before an own goal doubled the advantage in the first half. After the interval, strikes from Martell Taylor-Crossdale, Tino Anjorin and Redan rounded off an excellent display, our biggest-ever victory in the senior competition. Newport’s win over Plymouth at Rodney Parade a fortnight later ensured the Blues finished as group winners, earning a home tie in the last-32.

‘All the boys want to stay in this competition for as long as possible because the games are great experiences,’ said Edwards afterwards. ‘We knew there was a chance we could go straight out in the group stage so that brought a certain amount of pressure to the match. When you come into a game like this, it’s about standing up to the challenge and I thought in that respect the lads were fantastic.’

Wimbledon win

With the stakes raised by the arrival of knockout football, goals in both halves helped us advance into the last-16 at the expense of the League One strugglers.

Brown broke the deadlock with his fourth Checkatrade Trophy goal of the season, firing down the middle from the penalty spot after Marc Guehi had been taken down in the box. The advantage was doubled two minutes after the restart as Redan headed in from close range following a brilliant cross by Anjorin.

AFC Wimbledon reduced the arrears with 20 minutes remaining when Anthony Wordsworth hooked in the aftermath of a corner, though the substitute was then sent off in the closing stages as the visitors ran out of steam and their cup run ran out of time.

The draw four days later handed us another home tie against League One opponents, with Steve Evans’s side heading to west London looking to continue their promising campaign.

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