Goals from Thierno Ballo and Tino Livramento were not enough as our development squad fell to a defeat at home against Liverpool on Friday evening.
Things took a turn for the worse after the perfect start when Ballo fired home after five minutes, but a quick double handed Liverpool the advantage at the interval.
When we came out for the second half, another bright start was soon a distant memory when the visitors found a third.
Chelsea controlled the game from then on and the Liverpool defence was finally unlocked by Lewis Bate for Livramento to apply the finishing touches but the damage had been done and we couldn’t find the final goal to level the scores.
Andy Myers made two changes to the side who started against Derby earlier in the week. Ethan Wady kept goal, while Dion Rankine started at right wing-back in our first game in Kingston for just over two months.
Ballo bags the opener
Liverpool started the game at a chilly Kingsmeadow but almost immediately surrendered possession to the Blues, who opened the scoring with the first attack of the evening after just five minutes of play.
Livramento was strongly brought down moments earlier but the tough tackle didn’t dampen his desire to get forward. With our next attack, he was charging on and into the box. Crowded out, he managed to pick a pass to his open team-mate Ballo, who finished well across goal to give us the early lead.
Our goal settled the game but clear chances after that were few and far between. As the heavens opened, we registered our next attempt on Liverpool’s net, Levi Colwill keeping Livramento’s corner alive and finding Harvey Vale at the back post. The youngster couldn’t capitalise on the opportunity though, as his mistimed header dropped wide of the target.
Frustratingly, Liverpool were next to find the back of the net as a low ball in from the right was tucked away by Jake Cain for the equaliser, and the situation soon worsened for us.
Miscommunication at the back gifted the visitors an opportunity and it was taken by Tyler Morton, who lifted the ball ovr Wady and into the empty net to give his team the lead at the break following a disastrous three minutes for our youngsters.
Bright start short-lived
It was a positive start for Chelsea to the second period as Rankine was released again, this time on the left and by Bryan Fiabema. Despite Liverpool’s best attempts to foul the number seven, he made the box and had just the keeper to beat but aimed the wrong side of the post and the visitors were spared.
Unfortunately our good start was short-lived as Liverpool had a third goal. A long ball forward was chased down by forward Leighton Stewart, who made the best out of a searching pass and lashed a shot in to the bottom corner five minutes before an hour’s play. There was now a two-goal deficit for Chelsea to try and overturn.
Plenty of work to do then and we responded to falling further behind by making some changes in attack. Rankine and Fiabema made way for Jude Soonsup-Bell and trialist Declan Frith as we needed to gain some control of the game before time ran out.
Glimmer of hope
As we approached the last 20 minutes of the evening, the young Blues had rediscovered that bit of control and were constantly probing the Liverpool defence for the slightest opening. Thankfully, one was soon carved out by Bate on 73 minutes.
A well-weighted cross-field pass dropped perfectly for Livramento, who took the ball in his stride and glided into the box. Cutting on to his lesser-favoured left foot, the wing-back smashed home the ball to get us back in the game.
As expected, the goal gave the Blues a huge boost and the search for the equalising goal intensified with more men committed forward with every attack. However, the goal needed to salvage a point on the night was just too far beyond us in the latter stages and the game ended in a loss for our youngsters.
Next up for the development squad is a trip to Leicester in our rearranged PL2 game. Kick-off at the Foxes' training ground on Friday 26 March is 7pm. The Under-18s, meanwhile, play their first game at Cobham in three months when they host Reading tomorrow (Saturday).
Chelsea (3-4-2-1) Ethan Wady; Dujon Sterling, Dynel Simeu, Levi Colwill; Dion Rankine (Declan Frith 60), Lewis Bate, George McEachran, Tino Livramento; Thierno Ballo, Harvey Vale; Bryan Fiabema (Jude Soonsup-Bell 60)
Unused subs Karlo Ziger, Ben Elliott, Pierre Ekwah Elimby
Booked Ballo 26
Scorers Ballo 5; Livramento 73
Liverpool Marcelo Pitaluga (Jakub Ojrzynski 45), Conor Bradley, Owen Beck, Morgan Boyes, Billy Koumetio, Leighton Clarkson (Tom Clayton 53), Luis Longstaff (Elijah Dixon-Bonner 46), Tyler Morton, Layton Steward, Ben Woodburn, Jake Cain
Unuses subs Remmi Savage, Joe Hardey
Booked Bradley 4
Scorers Cain 37; Morton 40; Stewart 55
Referee Matthew Russell