Harvey Vale grabbed his fifth goal of the PL2 season as our development squad came from behind to draw at Kingsmeadow on Friday evening.
In very cold conditions, despite playing well, we fell behind to a goal against the run of play after a mistake from Alfie Gilchrist. We showed great resilience in the second half to level through Vale, who dinked an effort over the Brighton keeper who had an inspired performance. For all the pressure following that we could not get the winner.
Andy Myers went with an unchanged line-up from the team that secured a 3-1 win over Leeds United a week ago. With Josh Brooking and Ted Sharman-Lowe still suffering from injuries sustained in the last international break, it was another opportunity for others to impress.
Our development squad made their intentions clear, that they were going to press high. This allowed us to dominate the ball early on in very promising areas. Our opponents looked like a side that had not won a game in four with the errors being made early doors.
Xavier Simons and Tariq Uwakwe both had half chances to threaten the goal. For all this positivity it was the Seagulls who had the first real chance of the game as in the ninth minute of the game Andy Moran powered through but sliced his effort wide under minimal pressure.
We still even after that mini-scare managed to keep hold of the ball and move it well and that carved out our first opening of the game. A loose ball in midfield was pounced upon by Vale and his incisive ball found George McEachran who laid it on for Jude Soonsup-Bell. His strike was saved well by the opposing keeper.
We were keeping him busy as Vale again found himself with the ball in a dangerous position and from just outside the 18-yard-box, his low driven effort could only be palmed away for a corner by the Brighton keeper.
Patience was the name of the game as after 10 minutes it was looking like there would be a goal but 25 minutes into the game, both sides enjoyed spells of possession without really threatening either keeper.
Neat work between Soonsup-Bell and Brodie Hughes opened up a major opportunity as we have seen this season, set-pieces have proven to be a goldmine for our development squad.
Following the delivery, a scramble in the box fell kindly to Gilchrist who volleyed towards goal. Unfortunately for him a defender was well placed to clear before it could threaten the goal.
Costly missed chances
Brighton were feeling the heat as under no sudden pressure their keeper played a loose ball in midfield which presented a chance for our young Blues. However, not for the first time in this first half we failed to capitalise on the errors that the away team had made all half.
That proved costly as a mistake at the back from Gilchrist put Moran through on goal. Xavier Mbuyamba did well to block the first effort but unluckily for him the rebound fell right back to the Brighton attacker, and he tapped in to give his side the lead.
An unfortunate opener, against the run of play, the goal freed up the stiffness that the away side had displayed in the opening half an hour as they started to enjoy more fluid possession.
Set-pieces do it again
Only a minute into the second half we created a huge chance to get the leveller. Tidy work between Soonsup-Bell and Vale allowed the striker to be one-on-one with the keeper but with pressure from him and from a recovering defender, he rushed his shot and could only put it wide.
Soonsup-Bell was in the thick of the action again, as he powered down the left flank and managed to get a left-footed shot away that was diverted into the side-netting.
The resulting corner was cleared for another one and that proved to be our opening. A wicked delivery found captain Simons who excellently improvised by performing a bicyle-kick which landed at the feet of Vale. A right-footed dink was enough to pull us back level.
On a knife-edge
Brighton immediately from kick-off had a chance to go ahead. A pull-back to the edge of the area found Moran who fired his shot over. Both sides raised their intensity, which made for a pulsating last half an hour.
Brighton enjoyed some possession but even after some dangerous crosses could not convert that pressure into a gilt-edged chance. It was our young Blues’ turn to control the ball and we did create some chances, first through Baker who fired with his left foot from range. It was heading into the corner of the net but for a good save followed by another from Soonsup-Bell.
The Brighton keeper was in inspiring form as he made another save from Vale. This time a shot destined for the top corner was saved by the tall shot-stopper.
With 10 minutes of the game left, it was Myers’ side who were looking the most likely to grab a winner. Substitutes Jayden Wareham, Dion Rankine and Joe Haigh provided an extra bit of energy as the boss made positive changes to get the win.
Vale put in a delightful low cross which was begging for a Chelsea foot to finish off.
Stoppage time saw both sides go end to end in search of the winner but sharing the spoils was the order of the day as neither us nor Brighton could find the winner.
Chelsea (4-2-3-1): Lucas Bergstrom; Brodie Hughes, Xavier Mbuyamba, Alfie Gilchrist Lewis Hall; Xavier Simons (c), Lewis Baker; Harvey Vale, Tariq Uwakwe (Joe Haigh 76) George McEachran; Jude Soonsup-Bell (Jayden Wareham 73).
Unused Subs: Dion Rankine, Prince Adegoke, Charlie Webster.
Scorer: Harvey Vale 53.
Booked: Xavier Simons 87, Lewis Hall 90 + 5.
Brighton & Hove Albion (4-2-3-1): Kjell Scherpen; Sam Packham, Antef Tsoungnu, Ed Turns, James Furlong; Gary Dicker, Jack Spong; Lorent Tolaj, Andy Moran, Cam Peupion; Marc Leonard (c).
Unused Subs: Odel Offiah, Fynn Talley, Jack Hinchey, Todd Miller, Ulrick Ella.
Scorer: Andy Moran 34.
Booked: Antef Tsoungnu 55, Cameron Peupion 87, Jack Spong 90 + 5.