Chelsea Under-18s got the football weekend started with a win on a rare Friday night of football at Cobham.
Two goals in each half was enough for Chelsea to move top of the table, Myles Peart-Harris opening the scoring before Marcel Lewis found the net from a corner-kick.
After the break, Peart-Harris grabbed his second and Chelsea's third before Dion Rankine wrapped up the scoring at the end of a ruthless performance from the Blues.
In the week he signed his first professional contract with the club, Xavier Simons was handed the captain’s armband for the night. Pierre Ekwah Elimby was named on the bench alongside new signing Bryan Fiabema, the Norwegian forward having also signed a professional contract with the club during the week.
After a slight delay to kick-off, Chelsea got the game going in chilly conditions under the lights. We had the share of possession as the teams warmed to the temperature but there was little to report on up until the 19th minute when we took the lead.
Thierno Ballo received the ball with his back to goal and smartly turned to mislay his marker. The shot that followed was parried by Roco Rees but only as far as Peart-Harris, who couldn’t miss from such close range. Great start, 1-0 Blues.
Brighton found their first chance soon after half an hour’s play. Ben Wilson let fly from the edge of the area and narrowly missed the target as Jake Askew dived to his right to cover his angles and the ball spun past the post.
Marcel Lewis made it two in bizarre circumstances 20 minutes later when his corner-kick appeared to have crept straight into the net at the near post following a defensive mix-up for the visitors.
Ballo had the chance to make it three and get on the scoresheet himself moments later. He was picked out, through on goal, and succeeded in chipping the keeper but good defending saw the ball hooked off the line and away from danger.
We took a comfortable two-goal lead into the break. Shortly after the restart, Brand replaced Simons with Ben Elloitt in a straight midfield swap.
It was soon three for Chelsea, who picked up from where they left off in the first half. Tino Livramento made the byline and squared for Peart-Harris, whose finish for his second was made to look easier than his first. 3-0 Chelsea.
The goals kept on coming for Brand’s boys as Rankine got in on the scoring act after an hour. He raced into the box from wing-back after receiving the ball from Lewis and beautifully fired across goal to find the net. 4-0 Blues.
Fiabema was introduced to the match pitch at Cobham for the first time in the 67th minute, replacing Peart-Harris after an impressive evening’s work for the 17-year-old. It wasn't long before the new boy had the ball in the net himself, having latched on to a through ball and poked it beyond the keeper, who was slow to react. However, the official on the nearside had his flag raised for offside. He was unlucky and the goal didn't stand.
We looked comfortable in the closing moments as the team saw out the remainder of the game without being treatened by the visitors. The points mean Chelsea are back at the top of the league with a three-point gap over closest rivals Fulham.
Next up for Brand’s boys is Millwall in the quarter-final of the FA Youth Cup at Stamford Bridge next Thursday 27 February. The tie is live on the 5th Stand App.
Chelsea (3-4-2-1) Jake Askew; Charlie Wiggett, Sam McClelland, Bashir Humphreys; Tino Livramento, Lewis Bate, Xavier Simons (c) (Ben Elliott 53), Dion Rankine; Myles Peart-Harris (Bryan Fiabema 68), Marcel Lewis (Pierre Ekwah 80); Thierno Ballo
Unused subs Ethan Wady, George Nunn
Scorers Peart-Harris 19, 53, Lewis 38, Rankine 62
Brighton Roco Rees, Ayo Tanimowo, James Furlong (Steff Vukoje 48), Ed Turns (Jack Spong 46), Luca Cocoracchio, Antef Tsoungui (c), Marc Leonard, Sam Packham, Ben Wilson, Matt Everitt, Jack Leahy (Todd Miller 64)
Unused subs Ben Clark-Eden, Fynn Talley
Booked Packham 60, Jack Spong 90
Pictures by Mark Sandom