Chelsea’s development squad came from behind having had the lead at Cobham to secure a point against Manchester City on Sunday morning.
The game against Man City earlier this season ended level. Finding ourselves 2-0 down at half-time that day, second-half goals from Billy Gilmour and Myles Peart-Harris earned a point at their academy stadium in what was an entertaining game and today’s match proved no different.
It was action-packed from the start and the attempts on goal were in constant supply, making the game good viewing for spectators.
After missing an earlier chance, the in-form Thierno Ballo gave Chelsea the lead and we were good value for it. However a strong City side would level the scores just four minutes later with a goal of their own. At half-time the we were level and it remained anyone’s game.
Back out for the remaining half, we started strongly but a Levi Colwill own-goal after six minutes gave us work to do for the rest of the game. The chances on goal came and went for the young Blues who waited until the last minute of the game to draw level. It was Colwill who made up for his earlier mistake finding the net from close range to secure a point. At full-time we were fifth with 29 points.
For Sunday morning’s game Andy Myers named two changes. In came Tino Anjorin and George Nunn as Sam McClelland and Jude Soonsup-Bell dropped out. Lewis Bate captained the side while Anjorin joined the attack alongside Thierno Ballo and Marcel Lewis who had nine goal in all competitions between them prior to kick-off.
Elsewhere in the starting line-up Dujon Sterling made his sixth start of the season after injury and contributed an assist last time out while Levi Cowlill started his 12th straight game at the heart of defence.
Sunday’s game was a battle between two of the league’s strongest sides and it showed immediately from the first whistle. Both teams were offensive making the opening exchanges an end-to-end affair but without too much threat on either goal.
The first chance did come eventually and it was a golden one for Ballo. Henry Lawrence was sent sprinting down the left by Anjorin before his deflected shot dropped for Ballo in the centre. With the keeper committed to the initial Lawrence try, the goal was gaping for Ballo to finish. However poor connection sent the ball into the side netting instead of on target. It was a huge chance for a Chelsea goal so early in the game.
Down the other end Man City looked to make us pay for the squirmed chance. Liam Delap raced into the box with just Karlo Ziger to beat, but Sterling flew back in time and made the all-important sliding tackle to stop the attack – and it proved even more significant moments later.
Ballo bags first but City hit back
Still end-to-end, we were able to take advantage of Man City’s high line. A simple but effective ball forward from Tino Livramento was well controlled by Anjorin who had plenty of time to turn on the edge of the box.
A dinked ball into the centre from the 19-year-old dropped for Ballo who touched the ball over the keeper for the opening goal of the game. It was that touch of quality from Chelsea which got the game started.
But our lead wasn’t to last as Man City drew level in disappointing circumstances. A hopeful ball in to the box from Tommy Doyle stayed in the air for what seemed like an age and with a running jump on Livramento, Delap sent a looping header over Ziger for the equalising goal.
First-half action continues
We looked to right our wrongs soon after conceding and the next best chance came from an unlikely source. Staying forward from a set-piece, Colwill was expertly picked out by Marcel Lewis but the defender lacked the composure possessed by a forward to apply the finishing touches to another great chance.
The game was very open and the chances for the next goal continued to come. Doyle, who was the provider for City’s first goal, took matters into his own hands with the next attempt. Taking aim from 25 yards his shot bounced off the top of the bar and out of play much to our delight.
The combination of Ballo and Anjorin continued to threaten the away defence all morning and their next link-up almost produced another impressive goal. A smart cross from the latter found Ballo in the centre, but his connection to with the ball was too soft to divert its path and we ended the first half level.
Own-goal damages hope
After a good start to the second half our hard work was undone in frustrating circumstances. Doyle involved again for City, his low cross was turned in by Colwill who couldn’t get out of the way quick enough. City had the lead for the first time during the game and we needed to respond.
The end-to-end theme continued and we looked to get one back immediately. Lewis’ cross for Nunn was inch perfect, he got there before the keeper and aimed for the target but a recovering save from Cieran Slicker was enough to thwart the attack.
Searching for a goal
Just before an hour’s play we had another excellent chance to get back into the game. George McEachran worked his way to the by-line and crossed for Lawrence. The ball bounced awkwardly before the full-back made contact and the hit from very close range missed the target.
Our attacking play intensified as the game wore on but understandably City were compact and left very little space for us to move into.
After being crowded out following a corner-kick, Colwill looked to turn provider and sent the ball back into the danger area. Ballo was unmarked but stretching and his header was straight at Slicker to catch.
Colwill strikes back
Just as time seemed to be running out for us a flurry of chances on goal eventually yielded a deserved Chelsea goal.
Livramento’s cross was touched on to the bar by Slicker and we were awarded the corner-kick. After inadvertently scoring in the wrong net, Colwill was not about to let the accident define the game and sent a thumping shot into the right goal a minute from time.
With that goal making the scores level, a draw was the fair result on the day as Chelsea took another point from the league-leaders.
After a week’s break Myers’ men will make a trip across London to take on West Ham at Rush Green. Kick-off on Friday 2 April is 4pm.
Chelsea 4-2-3-1 Karlo Ziger; Tino Livramento, Dujon Sterling, Levi Colwill, Henry Lawrence; George McEachran, Lewis Bate (c); Marcel Lewis (Harvey Vale 80), Thierno Ballo, Tino Anjorin (Dynel Simeu 86); George Nunn (Bryan Fiabema 65)
Unused subs Ethan Wady, Sam McClealland
Scorer Ballo 13; Colwill 89
Man City Cieran Slicker, Alpha Diounkou, Finley Burns, Callum Doyle, Caludio Gomes, Romeo Lavia, Cole Palmer (Felix Nmecha 69), Tommy Doyle, Liam Delap, James McAtee (Alex Robinson 81), Adrian Berwabe
Unused subs Sammy Robinson, Louie Moulden, Sam Epozie
Booked Palmer 35; Delap 66
Scorer Delap 18; Colwill 51 (og)
Referee Robert Massey-Ellis