It was another London derby triumph for Chelsea as the development squad overcame Tottenham to extend their unbeaten start to the Premier League 2 season.
Forward Armando Broja popped up with the chance that mattered late on in the evening to give Chelsea a deserved lead in a match where our dicipline was excellently displayed. Tariq Uwakwe and Marc Guehi had both earlier been denied in the first half of a game which always looked as though it only needed the one goal to settle it.
Andy Myers named four changes ahead of kick-off as Jack Wakely, Thierno Ballo, Broja and Uwakwe were all given starting places in Stevenage. Tariq Lamptey was rested after his senior team involvement on Sunday afternoon, while Billy Gilmour was unable to shake off a sickness bug in time to travel and Jon Russell took place on the bench.
It was a chilly evening in Stevenage and it took a little while for both teams to warm to the conditions. Tottenham got firing first though, and almost broke the deadlock after eight minutes. Tashan Oakley-Boothe took aim from 18 yards but Blues keeper Jamie Cumming was grateful to watch the ball around his post as he stretched to cover his angles.
Chelsea always looked a threat despite Tottenham’s bright start and in a chance similar to the hosts’ first, Uwakwe hit just wide of the target inside the first quarter of an hour. We went close again 10 minutes later when George McEachran’s corner was cleared into the air by a Spurs defender and Wakely was first to react, nodding the ball back into the danger area. Guehi took advantage, instinctively prodding the ball towards goal only to be blocked by a man in white on the line. Chelsea protests for a goal were waved away as play continued.
The 30-minute mark had seen a complete change in momentum and Chelsea controlled possession in the final third, restricting Spurs to rare counter-attacks. It was a much better period for the Blues.
However, it was a counter which gifted Spurs their next chance - a partially cleared cross dropped to Shilow Tracey at the back post and his whipped effort flashed across the face of goal inches away from the target. Clear-cut opportunities were at a premium at the Lamex and it remained goalless at the interval.
Myers opted for a change at the break in hope of finding a breakthrough and Ballo was replaced by Russell in a like-for-like midfield swap. The second half followed a similar pattern of play to the first, where evenly shared possession meant the midfield battle was key and fierce after 72 minutes of action. Clinton Mola and McEachran in particular saw a lot of the ball inside the Spurs half.
Having been unbothered for large spells of the game, Cumming did well to stay alert and catch a powerful attempt from Dilan Markanday. He was called into action again moments later but this time Oakley-Boothe’s strike from range thankfully bounced wide of the target.
The boss made his second change with 12 minutes left on the clock, Lewis Bate introduced in place of Uwakwe, which saw a change of shape for the Blues with the side switching to a back three.
It seemed there was an immediate difference as Broja broke the deadlock on 82 minutes. The forward started the move in the final third and continued his run into the box, a precise ball from Russell found the 18-year-old who was ruthless in hitting the roof of the net for the opener. 1-0 Chelsea.
Charlie Brown worked tirelessly all evening and very nearly got the goal his efforts deserved - after shielding off three of his markers, he curled a left-footed effort at goal which looked to have the keeper beaten but unfortunately moved just off-target. That chance signalled the end of play and Chelsea's development squad extended their unbeaten start into the first game of 2020.
Chelsea (4-2-3-1) Jamie Cumming; Henry Lawrence, Jack Wakely, Marc Guehi, Ian Maatsen; George McEachran, Clinton Mola; Armando Broja, Thierno Ballo (Jon Russell ht), Tariq Uwakwe (Lewis Bate 79); Charlie Brown (Xavier Simons 90)
Unused subs Karlo Ziger, Dynel Simeu
Booked Russell 56
Scorer Broja 82
Tottenham Brandon Austin, Jubril Okedina (Rayan Clarke 88), Tariq Hinds, Elliot Thorpe (Pheonix Patterson 70), Timothy Eyoma (c), Brooklyn Lyons-Foster, Dilan Markanday, Tashan Oakley-Boothe, Rodel Richards, Armando Shashoua, Shilow Tracey
Unused subs Josh Oluwayemi, Rayan Clarke, Jonathan Dinzeyi, Maurizio Pochettino-Grippaldi
Booked Thorpe 11, Markanday 61, Oakley-Boothe 68
Referee Adrian Quelch