Our under-18s were defeated by Aston Villa at Bodymoor Heath training ground this afternoon.
Tino Anjorin gave us the lead inside the opening five minutes but Villa struck back soon after, and that appeared a common theme in this afternoon’s game.
Lewis Bate drilled Chelsea back into the lead early in the second-half but the hosts were soon level, two minutes before an hour’s play. With all three points to play for attacking football saw end-to-end action and one more goal was sure to seal the points. Unfortunately for the Blues, Villa hit the target late on and kept the points safe.
Ed Brand named a changed side from the team who progressed in Wednesday’s Youth Cup. Ethan Wady was between the sticks with a back three which included Josh Brooking and Sam McClelland. Tino Anjorin was back in the team after injury and Thierno Ballo led the line. Xavier Simons was rewarded for his strong performances this season with the armband this morning.
Conditions were perfect despite a week of heavy rain in the Midlands and it allowed Chelsea to take the lead after five minutes of play. An inch perfect Marcel Lewis free-kick dropped at Anjorin’s feet and the midfielder couldn’t miss. 1-0 Blues with Lewis picking up the good form he showed in the Youth Cup.
Aston Villa responded well to going behind though, Carney Chukwuemeka had a teasing shot well held by Wady – it was a warning sign for the Blues.
After an action packed opening 10 minutes it should have deservedly been two for the Blues. Tino Livramento picked out Ballo’s run inside the box, the forward had to take it first time and it was unfortunately hit straight at the goalkeeper who gratefully blocked the ball with his body.
That earlier miss would go on to haunt us as Aston Villa equalised four minutes later. Aaron Ramsey capitalised on a mistake in defence and curled an unreachable shot into the far corner to bring his team back into the game. The hosts were back in the game at 1-1.
Villa seemed to have the wind in their sails but were up against a resolute defence - goalscorer Ramsey watched on as his deflected attempt from range bounced wide of the target.
Chelsea were having to battle for possession as the hosts didn’t let them settle and a big chance for Brand’s side went by as Jordan Aina fired wide at the back post from Livramento’s deep cross.
Still level at the half hour point, Livramento looked lively and his lofted centre sat up nicely for Josh Brooking – the defender’s header was on target and looked to be crawling across the line until a Villa body hacked the ball clear of danger. With that late chance we entered the interval as we started, equal.
The second-half got off to a similar start to the first, it took the Blues just five minutes to find the back of the net. Lewis worked well to keep the ball in play on the far side of the box and then spot the late run of Lewis Bate – the ball was perfect and Bate didn’t have to break his stride to side-foot us back into the lead. 2-1 Chelsea.
However before we had time to build on our lead, Villa again, responded well to going behind. It took them less than 10 minutes to find their way back into the game, this time through Jaden Philogene-Bidace who pounced upon a partially cleared corner, slamming the ball home through a sea of bodies. 2-2 with 30 minutes left on the clock.
Brand opted for two attack-minded changes as Chelsea looked to reclaim the lead for a second time in the game. Livramento and Anjorin were replaced by George Nunn and Dion Rankine in like-for-like swaps and those changes almost immediately paid dividend.
Firstly, a blind back pass gave Nunn the chance to snatch a goal but poor control gave keeper Akos Onodi the space to race off his line, gather the ball and calm his defence.
Yet Nunn was involved again shortly after, this time his cross looked to be too deep but Rankine’s pace got him to the ball in time – the winger had space to set himself and fire low at goal, which he did, but Onodi was there again to make the save.
The best chance for either side in the second-half fell for Ballo on 80 minutes – Nunn’s looping cross beat the Villa defenders and goalkeeper finding our number nine who agonisingly headed straight against the frame of the goal and Villa survived another scare.
We were made to rue our missed chances in the latter stages however - Aston Villa stole all three points with four minutes left on the clock, it was Ramsey again, with the strike which condemned the Blues to their second defeat of the campaign.
Chelsea (3-4-3) Ethan Wady; Josh Brooking, Sam McClelland, Bashir Humphreys; Jordan Aina, Lewis Bate, Xavier Simons (c), Tino Livramento (Dion Rankine 60); Tino Anjorin (George Nunn 60), Marcel Lewis, Thierno Ballo (Myles Peart-Harris 81)
Unused subs Charlie Wiggett, Jake Askew
Sent off Brooking 90+5
Scorers Anjorin 5, Bate, 49
Aston Villa Akos Onodi, Sebastian Revan, Kaine Kesslet, Brad Burton, Harrison Sohna, Mamadou Dialla Sylla, Tyreik Wright, Carney Chukwuemeka, Brad Young, Aaron Pressley, Jaden Philogene-Bidace
Unused subs Filip Marshall, Hayden Lindley, Charlie Farr, Cameron Archer, DJ Campton-Sturridge
Scorers Ramsey 14 & 87, Philogene-Bidace 58