Chelsea had to share a point with Southampton after they were held to a draw in the Under-18 Premier League this afternoon.
Chelsea will be left disappointed with today's result as our visitors snatched a reuslt against the run of play. The opening stage of the game was quiet and although both teams had settled neither could gain the upper hand. That was until the final 10 minutes of the first half, when Chelsea stepped up their hunt for a goal and found it through Alex Kpakpe's well-hit volley which found the top corner giving the Blues the half-time lead.
We looked good after the interval and continued to apply pressure on our visitors but the chances came and went, Harvey Vale was closest striking the frame of the goal after a good forward run. We were left to rue those missed chances as Southampton found the next after 65 minutes through Ryan Finnigan.
Our intensity increased again after conceding but we found it hard to create much against a well-organised Saints outift which left us with the scores level as the referee called time on the match.
The young Blues
Ed Brand named four changes for today’s league fixture against Southampton, Kpakpe and Ben Elliott made their first league starts, with it being a debut for the former. While Lucas Bergstrom and Joe Haigh returned to the starting line-up.
Early first half
In good conditions at Cobham the Under-18s kicked-off against Southampton and it was our visitors from the coast who tried their luck on goal first. Kaya Tshaka took aim from distance and Bergstrom scrambled across his line to cover the danger. Only moments later Vale fired wide of the target from a well-struck volley, both teams were beginning to find their rhythm.
Chelsea were benefitting from their wide attacks and looked to exploit them when given the chance. Josh Brooking and Silko Thomas combined particularly well on the right to deliver a continued service for their forward men.
With the midfield battle key to possession there was little goal-mouth action to watch. Jude Soonsup-Bell headed wide of the target but an unlikely source in Kpakpe was sure to find the net in Chelsea's next attack.
Breakthrough for Chelsea
Again Chelsea moved down the right flank and Thomas’ cross dropped perfectly for our left-back Kpakpe, who arrowed a first-time effort into the top corner. The keeper stood no chance of stopping the strike, one any forward would have been proud of.
Blues look to build
We returned unchanged at the break and looked replicate the attacking intensity we showed before the interval as Soonsup-Bell, Haigh and Charlie Webster all flashed early chances beyond the target within the opening minutes.
Vale was next to take aim and he registered the closest chance yet. After picking up the ball in the middle he charged through the Southampton defence and fired at goal, only the crossbar would deny him an excellent goal.
As Chelsea looked comfortable and tried to take advantage of their lead, Southampton were plotting a goal of their own and found it through forward Ryan Finnigan, who poked the ball over the line from close range after his initial header came back off the post. A frustrating blow for Chelsea's lead.
Jimi Tauriainen replaced Thomas in a like-for-like swap as we entered the final quarter and looked to reassert our authority on the game and possession was back in Chelsea’s favour and the search for a goal deepened. Taruiainen pounced upon a mistake from the Southampton keeper inside the box, but before he had time to get a shot away Olly Wright recovered and conceded only a corner-kick. Unfortuanely Chelsea couldn't find the winning goal in the latter stages and had to settle for a point on the afternoon.
It’s another home fixture, Crystal Palace visit Cobham on Friday of next week in Under-18 Premier League action kick-off is 2pm.
Chelsea (4-1-2-2-1) Lucas Bergstrom; Josh brooking, Charlie Wiggett (c), Bashir Humphreys, Alex Kpakpe; Charlie Webster; Ben Elliott (Edwin Andersson 83), Harvey Vale; Silko Thomas (Jimi Tauriainen 75), Joe Haigh, Jude Soonsup-Bell (Malik Mothersille 89)
Unused subs Derrick Abu, Kelechi Chibueze
Scorer Kpakpe 39
Booked Brooking 73
Southampton Olly Wright, Zuriel Otseh-Taiwo, Matt Carson, Kaya Tshaka, Will Tizzard (c), Lewis Payne, Jaydon Smith, Goran Babic, Sam Bellis (Harvey Woods 83), Ryan Finnigan, Marco Rus
Unused subs Diamond Edwards, Gustan Lillenberg, Fedel Ross-Lang, Luke Pearce
Booked Tizzard 26
Scorer Finnigan 65
Photography by Mark Sandom