Our development squad had to fight for three points to ensure they went top of the Premier League 2 table after beating a tough Derby County side at Cobham.
Substitutes Tino Anjorin and Bryan Fiabema made the difference for Andy Myers's side by proving vital to getting the all-important goals and securing maximum home points.
Chelsea were frustrated in the first half by Derby. They created some good chances themselves early on by breaking up the Blues' pattern of play but in the second half, the game opened up and created an end-to-end five-goal haul at our training ground.
We left it late, Fiabema scoring the winner in the 91st minute to give us all three points and take us top.
Reshuffling the pack
Myers made four changes from the development squad’s win against Arsenal last time out. Lucas Bergstrom was back between the sticks and Jack Wakely replaced Levi Colwill at centre-back, while Tino Livramento came in for Ian Maasten, who has departed on loan to Charlton Athletic.
Beating the press
Derby had a clear intention of pressing Chelsea up the pitch. In the opening minutes, the visitors found themselves in good positions from picking up loose balls in the middle of the pitch.
Our development side had to think quick and this was countered in two ways. First, by going long - Wakely, who got booked early, did a fantastic job with the cross-field ball to open up the pitch for Dion Rakine, who had tons of space out wide.
Livramento created some width by overlapping on the right-hand side, exposing Derby left-back Archie Brown, who was very attack-minded. Lewis Bate also did a good job by coming into the middle of the park to create an exit pass for the centre-backs as a number six. The Blues started to gain control in the midfield.
Leading by example
In the first half, we got three yellow cards earlier on due to our aggressiveness in trying to win the ball back. Two of the yellows were to our centre-backs Wakely and captain Simeu. Myles Peart-Harris was also booked when he held Festy Ebosele back. This meant that these three players needed to be cautious from getting sent off.
Simeu showed his leadership towards the end of the half when Derby started getting counter-attacking opportunities. He had back-to-back goal-line clearances to keep us from going behind early. The first chance was when Tyree Wilson got on the end of a cut-back but was denied by the defender on the line. Josh Shonibare had a chance a minute later with Simeu at the rescue again.
Impact off the bench
Tino Anjorin, who started on the bench, broke the deadlock within a minute of being on the pitch. He started from deep and created himself space for late runs and, as Chelsea got a break with Thierno Ballo driving it up, it was Anjorin who he slipped in. The attacker made no mistake by dragging it back and slipping it beyond goalkeeper Brad Forster.
This would be the beginning of a sequence of three goals in four minutes. Derby reacted, doing what they have done a couple of times this season by coming back from behind to lead. This was due to the influence of Louie Watson. First he set up Stretton, who was also trying to find a way to get the best of our centre-backs. Watson played the through ball that split the defence and Stretton got the best of Blues goalkeeper Bergstorm.
A minute later, it would be Wilson again. This time around he was on the scoring end of things. Shonibare flew through the right-hand side and cut it back for Watson who put Derby ahead.
Fiabema drew things level making it 2-2. His left-footed strike from outside the box was a top draw finish while off-balance. This is the second game in a row where he’s come off the bench to score. An impactful appearance for sure.
The Norwegian forward was among the action again and this time got the winning injury-time goal which secured maximum points for Myers' side who take an early lead at the top of the PL2 table.
The Blues will start to prepare for their away fixture against Liverpool on Saturday afternoon, kick-off is 1pm.
Chelsea (4-2-3-1) Lucas Bergstrom; Tino Livramento, Dynel Simeu (c), Jack Wakely (Pierre Ekwah 45), Henry Lawrence; Lewis Bate, Myles Peart- Harris; Dion Rankine, Thierno Ballo, Marcel Lewis (Tino Anjorin 59); George Nunn (Bryan Fiabema 65)
Unused sub Ben Elliot
Booked Wakely 9; Simeu 32; Peart-Harris 33; Anjorin 90+11
Sent off Livramento 90+10
Scorers Anjorin 60; Fiabema 73, 90+1
Derby (4-2-3-1) Brad Forster; Festy Ebosele (Cameron Cresswell 79), Archie Brown, Isaac Hutchinson, Callum Minkley, Ethan Wassal, Josh Shonibare, Connor Dixon, Jack Stretton, Ola Ibrahim (Louie Watson), Tyree Wilson
Unused subs Liam Thompson, George Sykes-Kenworthy, Kornell McDonald
Referee James Dutton