Our under-17s suffered defeat against Southampton in their second Under-17 Premier League Cup fixture on Tuesday evening.
We twice came from behind to draw level with the Saints, firstly through Malik Mothersille and then Ronnie Stutter but a third was just out of reach of our youngsters who battled well on the night.
The young Blues
Ed Brand named a familiar line-up for our second outing in this competition, there were three changes in Southampton on Tuesday night as Luke Badley-Morgan, Louis Hall and Brodi Hughes came into the side. Ben Elliott, Alfie Gilchrist and Edwin Andersson dropped out with the latter taking a place on the bench.
Growing into the half
After a quiet start to proceedings Chelsea slowly grew into the game and found joy on the left side of attack. Alex Kpakpe beat his man and crossed for Mothersille who tested Ollie Wright in the Saints net. Wright’s clearance though was only as far as Stutter who had his shot blocked before any danger was done.
Our next source of joy was found on the opposite wing with Stutter at the heart of the drama. He took on his marker and made the touchline before crossing for an unmarked Leo Castledine in the centre, but he could only drag the shot inches wide of the target. Mothersille stood at the far post but was unable to provide the touch needed to direct the ball over the line.
Next, Hughes tried his luck from distance after good work from Kpakpe to keep the ball, but an excellent save from Wright denied the youngster what would have been a spectacular goal. After a quiet start by Chelsea’s standards their dominance was beginning to show but the good work would soon be harshly undone.
Behind against the run of play
Despite Chelsea’s strong showing, Southampton were gifted the lead shortly before the 30-minute mark. Max Merrick was just off his line when the Saints won the ball back 20-yards from goal and it was an easy task for Sam Bellis who fired into an empty net. Our youngsters would have been disappointed to concede so soon after such a strong spell of play.
Southampton grew in confidence after the goal and Chelsea struggled to reinstate their dominance on the game as a regroup at half-time was a welcome break for both teams.
Mothersille on target
Chelsea returned from the break looking hungry. Richard Olise combined well with Castledine on the right and flew down the wing to provide a cross at the second attempt for Mothersille to tap home from close range to bring Chelsea back on level terms, just five minutes after the restart.
After their first, Chelsea were in the mood for more and it was again from the right where we found space to move forward. Olise and Derrick Abu exchanged passes and the latter threaded a perfectly-weighted ball into Stutter’s path. The young attacker let fly but missed the target by inches, Wright was scrambling across his line but looked beaten by the attempt.
Hosts regain the lead
Southampton found the net again and frustratingly it was after another spell of Chelsea dominance. This time a low cross made its way to the edge of the box where a powerful shot flew beyond Merrick via a deflection. 25 minutes remained for another Chelsea response and it was plenty of time as Stutter proved.
Stutter provides short-lived leveller
Our press from the front was causing Southampton problems and it was clearly evident when we drew level. Olise found possession just outside of the box and Stutter started his run towards goal, the wing-back played him in and an expert finish saw Stutter find the net.
But the lead would only last five minutes as our hosts took the lead for a third time. Luke Pearce was first to react to a cross and connect with his head, the ball bounced in off the post and just out of reach of our stopper.
A third equalising goal proved too much to ask for Brand’s boys, who were kept from conceding a fourth by only the post in the final move of the game. Tuesday night’s result means we have now won one and lost one in the competition so far with Fulham left to play in the new year.
Chelsea (3-4-2-1) Max Merrick; Derrick Abu, Brodi Hughes, Luke Badley-Morgan (c); Richard Olise (Aleksi Heino 80), Billy Gee (Josh Tobin 64), Louis Hall, Alex Kpakpe; Leo Castledine, Ronnie Stutter; Malik Mothersille (Edwin Andersson 70)
Unused subs Sami Tlemcani
Scorers Mothersille 50; Stutter 70
Southampton Ollie Wright, Lewis Payne, Jeremi Rodriguez, Kaya Tshaka, Max Alleyne (Jem Hewlett ht), Matt Carson, Jayden Smith, Josh Squires, Luke Pearce, Sam Bellis (Tommy Lee Higgs 68 ), Fedel Ross-Land
Unused subs Zuriel Otseh-Taiwo, Reuben Perry
Scorers Bellis 29, Tshaka 65, Pearce 75