Our development squad still await their first win of the season but there were some moments of quality in Saturday afternoon’s outing at Man City’s Academy Stadium, including a fourth goal of the season for Harvey Vale and a series of saves from Teddy Sharman-Lowe between the Chelsea posts.
Although the final scoreline suggests a comprehensive win for the home side, it took them until the closing stages to take the lead and the gloss was put on their victory by two goals deep into added time at the end.
Vale celebrated his 18th birthday by opening the scoring early on and for the first quarter of the game these two sides were well-matched.|
Man City, who had started this round of fixtures at the top of the PL2 table, then levelled from a free-kick that had been saved initially, Tai Sodje tapping in, and although Sharman-Lowe in the Chelsea goal was beaten on that occasion, he made three excellent saves in the first half, including touching a fierce effort from Cole Palmer onto the crossbar when the game was still scoreless.
City were in ascendency as the game reached half-time but Chelsea rallied after the break with Vale threatening to add to his goal. When under pressure, the Blues defence were showing resilience but a crack appeared with just under quarter-of-an-hour to go when a penalty was conceded, scored by James McAtee to give the home side a 2-1 advantage, extended by very late strikes from Sam Edozie and another from Sodje as they ended well against a tiring visiting side.
There were four changes to the side which had lost out to a late goal at West Ham in the previous game. One was in goal with Sharman-Lowe returning. Brodi Hughes in defence and Tariq Uwakwe at wing-back played their first development squad games of the season and midfielder Lewis Hall made his first start.
Vale makes bright beginning count
There was action at both ends right from the start. It needed a careful tackle from Dion Rankine inside his own penalty area to end City’s first threatening attack and soon Jude Soonsup-Bell was striking a Chelsea free-kick straight at the home team’s goalkeeper.
In the sixth minute, it needed a finger-tip save from the stretching Sharman-Lowe to divert a well-struck shot from out wide from Palmer onto the crossbar.
Just four minutes later, Chelsea took the lead. Goalscorer Vale collected the ball to the right and outside the penalty area and advanced powerfully into the box. Allowed a sight of goal, he took the opportunity and caught out City keeper Mikki van Sas with a shot inside the near post.
City attempted an instant response but Hall tracked a runner and was able to block when the cross came in dangerously.
Hughes, up from the back for a free-kick, could have made it 2-0 for Chelsea but headed wide from Uwakwe’s delivery.
Instead, City's equaliser came midway through the first half from a free-kick awarded to the dismay of the Chelsea players. Located centrally and just outside the area, it was struck low by Palmer but although Sharman-Lowe, who had minutes earlier made a near-post block, initially kept the effort out, City no.9 Sodje was first to the loose ball to score.
Ten minutes later, the Chelsea goalie pulled off a brilliant save to keep out James McAtee’s header when he met a cross from Palmer, among the home side’s most dangerous players.
Manchester City were looking in control as the first half drew to a close. It had been a while since the Blues had last threatened their goal.
On the stroke of half-time, Sharman-Lowe saved sharply again from McAtee but there was still time for a Chelsea effort before the interval. Hall fired into the side-netting.
City leave it late
It was even in score and even on the pitch in the early stages of the second half. City almost gifted a goal when their keeper misplaced a pass towards Soonsup-Bell and Vale went on a run similar to his goal but this time was tackled well. He also drew a diving save from Van Sas despite not catching a shot cleanly.
As the game progressed, the home side had been looking stronger and stronger when attacking down their left and forced several second-half corners, but they were testing Sharman-Lowe less, although the former Burton keeper was called into action to keep out a Darko Gyabi drive.
With just over quarter of an hour remaining, McAtee was finally able to beat Sharman-Lowe when given the chance from the penalty spot. Sodje had been brought down in the box by half-time substitute Xavier Mbuyamba.
Late goals have been a feature at the start of this season for Andy Myers’ side and City put the result beyond all doubt with two in the 93rd and 96th minutes. They worked space on the left for Edozie to get the goal his performance on that flank had deserved, before from the other side, Sodje powerfully netted his second with almost the last kick of the game.
Chelsea (3-4-2-1): Teddy Sharman-Lowe; Brodi Hughes (Xavier Mbuyamba h-t), Sam McClelland (c), Bashir Humphreys; Dion Rankine, Lewis Hall (Charlie Webster 62), Ben Elliott (George Nunn 72), Tariq Uwakwe; Brian Fiabema, Harvey Vale; Jude Soonsup-Bell.
Unused subs Ethan Wady, Jayden Wareham.
Scorer Vale 10
Man City (4-3-3): Van Sas; Charles, Burns, Egan-Riley (c) (Wilson-Esbrand 54), Larios (Mbete 54): Gyabi (Bobb 74), Lavia, McAtee; Palmer, Sodje, Edozie.
Unused subs McNamara, Hamilton.
Scorers Sodje 24, 90+6, McAtee 78 pen, Edozie 90+3