Chelsea's development squad maintained their strong start to the league campaign with victory over Blackburn Rovers at Cobham on Saturday afternoon.
Jon Russell put the Blues ahead at the break with his second goal in as many games after Thierno Ballo picked out the midfielder in the box, but Blackburn clawed a goal back after the interval following a sustained spell of pressure - however the winner came no more than two mintes later when substitue Armando Broja slotted home for his first PL2 goal.
Andy Myers made three changes from Tuesday night’s EFL Trophy victory in Plymouth - captain Marc Guehi was welcomed back into defence fresh from senior team duty, alongside returnee Tariq Lamptey who was also with senior squad midweek, while Karlo Ziger was between the stricks in place of Jamie Cumming.
Blackburn got the ball rolling at a wet and windy Cobham but chances were at a premium in the opening 20 minutes as neither side could create an opening.
Our hosts threatened first through defender Lewis Thompson - he flashed a dangerous ball across the face of goal after being slotted in by his captain Stefan Mols, but luckily there was nobody in grey present to convert. It was a mild warning for the Blues who looked comfortable in possession.
It was Chelsea who found the target with their first attempt on goal - Jack Wakely’s switched pass was picked up by Lamptey and the defender found the run of Ballo inside the box. The Austria youth international was alert to square play for Russell to slot home his second goal in as many development games. 1-0 Chelsea after 28 minutes.
The visitors made a quick start to the second half and almost clawed a goal back through defender Hayden Carter who had a free shot at an open net following Karlo Ziger’s parry, but Guehi raced back and produced an impressive goal-line clearance to protect his team's lead.
More heroics were required in the danger area as Wakely and George Nunn put their bodies on the line to preserve the score after 60 minutes of action - Blackburn looked a refreshed side and maintained the pressure on Chelsea's defence.
Rovers found their equaliser with 14 minutes remaining, Daniel Buttworth struck a powerful effort into the top corner from six yards having latched on to a headed cross. We were level at 1-1.
However the Blues didn't rest on their rest on their laurels after conceding as it took substitue Broja just two minutes to restore our single-goal lead. The forward won the battle with his marker and charged through on goal before he coolly beat Joseph Hilton between the sticks. We were back infront, 2-1 Chelsea.
Ziger remained alert in the latter stages as Blackburn searched for yet another leveller, his stretched leg was sure to deny Paton who wriggled free at the near post. That save proved vital as it was the final chance of the afternoon as Chelsea claimed the points to return to the top of the PL2 table.
Chelsea: Karlo Ziger, Tariq Lamptey, Jack Wakely, Marc Guehi (c), Marcel Lavinier (Henry Lawrence 70), George McEachran, Thierno Ballo, Clinton Mola, Charlie Brown, Jon Russell (Armando Broja 56), George Nunn (Marcel Lewis 75)
Unused subs: Lucas Bergstrom, Dynel Simeu
Scorers: Russell 28, Broja 76
Blackburn: Joseph Hilton, Isaac Whitehall, Lewis Thompson, Daniel Pike, Hayden Carter, Samuel Barnes, Stefan Mols (c), Thomas White, Samuel Burns (Chanka Zimba 84), Daniel Butterworth, Benjamin Paton
Unused subs: Flavien-Enzo Boyomo, Jordan Eastham, Samuel Durrant
Scorers: Butterworth 74
Referee: Lee Collins
- Pictures courtesy of Mark Sandom