A young Chelsea side earned a creditable point away at Spurs on the opening night of their Premier League 2 season.
Harvey Vale struck twice in the first half, the first with a penalty that he had won and the second a composed finish close to the midway point.
Tottenham fought back and eventually levelled the scores through Dilan Markanday and J’Neil Bennett but Lucas Bergstrom, the busy Blues goalkeeper, proved the hero with a late penalty save to earn the visitors a point to take back to Cobham.
Andy Myers’s first starting team of the season saw Bryan Fiabema named as the leading striker, supported by Ben Elliott and Vale from forward positions.
George Nunn and Dion Rankine were the preferred wing-backs in a 3-4-3 system, with Xavier Mbuyamba, Sam McClelland and Bashir Humphreys the centre-backs in front of goalkeeper Bergstrom.
Charlie Webster anchored in midfield alongside George McEachran, while Spurs started with former Blues Academy defender Marcel Lavinier and England Under-21 international Ryan Sessegnon among their ranks.
It was a balmy evening in Hertfordshire as our young Blues got their 2021/22 campaign underway in PL2. Runners-up last term, the visitors were looking to do the double over their London rivals once again but it was Bergstrom who proved the busier of the keepers early on.
The big Finn demonstrated all his agility to keep out a header from Alfie Devine following a clever cross by J’Neil Bennett from the left and the save proved even more significant as the Blues soon broke the deadlock down the other end.
It was a goal that owed much to Rankine’s pace and endeavours as well as Vale’s anticipation and quick thinking, the 17-year-old reacting smartly to latch on to a loose ball in the box and draw a foul from Joshua Oluwayemi, the Tottenham keeper.
Vale picked himself up, dusted himself down and smashed the spot-kick straight down the middle, opening his account after just 20 minutes of the new campaign and handing Myers’s men a perfect start.
Yet Chelsea were on back foot for much of the first period, with Bergstrom working overtime to keep the hosts at bay. McClelland produced an exceptional block to thwart Devine again before Bennett and Malachi Walcott brought saves from our man between the sticks in quick succession.
Walcott then spurned a great chance at the back post following a teasing deep delivery, before Webster was similarly guilty of fluffing his lines in the Spurs 18-yard box after Elliott and Vale had led a counter-attacking charge.
With Tottenham on top, a sucker-punch came in the form of a second for Chelsea and Vale, who raced clear ominously following a ball over the top. The teenager was bold in skipping past Brooklyn Lyons-Foster and then precise with his finish, squeezed inside the far post for 2-0 just moments before the break.
Spurs thought they had halved the deficit in stoppage time at the end of the first half as Lyons-Foster turned in the rebound from Harvey White’s well-struck free-kick but the offside flag ruled it out.
However, the reprieve did not last long and Markanday was the early scorer after the restart, running onto a pass from Devine before slotting neatly beyond the onrushing Bergstrom.
Chelsea chances in the second half were limited to a weak left-footed Webster effort and a wicked McEachran free-kick that zipped just past the far post, while Tottenham continued to pepper Bergstrom’s goal through Bennett and Markanday.
The equaliser arrived 22 minutes from time and the Blues keeper could do little to keep it out as Bennett cut in from the left flank and curled a dipping effort into the far corner for 2-2.
Drama at the death
With the opportunity to turn one point into three, the home side kept pushing and earned the perfect chance to complete a turnaround victory when Markanday knocked the ball past Bergstrom and fell easily under the keeper’s attempted challenge.
The referee had no choice but to point for a penalty and White stepped up confidently but Bergstrom kept his status as the night’s hero, diving low to his left to keep the ball out and keep a point for his side.
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Chelsea (3-4-3) Lucas Bergstrom; Xavier Mbuyamba, Sam McClelland, Bashir Humphreys; Dion Rankine (Josh Brooking 68), George McEachran (Luke Badley-Morgan 74), Charlie Webster, George Nunn; Ben Elliott, Bryan Fiabema (Jayden Wareham 80), Harvey Vale
Unused subs Teddy Sharman-Lowe, Declan Firth
Scorer Vale (pen) 20, 43
Booked Mbuyamba 31; Elliott 35; McEachran 45
Tottenham (4-2-3-1) Joshua Oluwayemi; Marcel Lavinier, Brooklyn Lyons-Foster, Matthew Craig, Ryan Sessegnon (Marqes Muir h/t); Malachi Walcott, Romaine Mundle; Harvey White, Dilan Markanday (Rafferty Pedder 90+1), Alfie Devine; J’Neil Bennett
Unused subs Michael Craig, Adam Hayton, Yago Santiago
Scorers Markanday 48; Bennett 68
Booked Devine 81