Our development squad ended up on the wrong side of a 3-2 scoreline against London rivals Crystal Palace on Monday afternoon.
The Blues faced off with Crystal Palace in a Monday afternoon clash away from home. Following our last fixture in the PL2, which was a convincing 5-0 win over Leicester, Andy Myers and his boys were seeking to make it two wins on the bounce.
The first half was a very even affair with no real clear-cut chances. The Eagles had a couple of attempts which were either over-hit or comfortably saved by Lucas Bergstrom in goal. Whilst on our end, Harvey Vale, Jayden Wareham, Ben Elliott and Joe Haigh all had sights on goal without really threatening Owen Goodman, who was in the hosts’ goal.
On the stroke of half-time, we broke the deadlock as a whipped delivery from Vale found the head of Xavier Mbuyamba, whose blocked effort trickled towards Haigh and he prodded home.
We started the second period how we ended the first but despite some half-chances, we could not get the early second we were searching for. Against the run of play, the home side pulled level as an attempted Alfie Gilchrist clearance resulted in him fouling John Kymani-Gordon in the penalty area. Nya Kirby stepped up and converted from the spot.
Again we did not let this affect us as we controlled the possession but with 10 minutes to go, after a shot on goal which Bergstrom parried, Kymani-Gordon reacted quickest to convert.
We responded almost instantly from a corner again as Gilchrist atoned for his earlier error by heading powerfully into the goal. With four minutes to go though, the decisive blow was struck as Kymani-Gordon's weak deflected effort took a wicked deflection off Gilchrist, wrong-footing Bergstrom and giving the Eagles the three points against the balance of play.
Myers made three changes to the side who beat Leicester last time out in PL2 as Ethan Wady, George McEachran and Jude Soonsup-Bell all came out of the side. They were replaced by Bergstrom, Charlie Webster and Vale respectively.
Jayden Wareham led the line and kept his place in the side after his recent run of good form, scoring against the Foxes and Arsenal in the EFL Trophy last week.
The opening 20 minutes were a very even affair, with both sides cancelling each other out. We had the better share of the half-chances created as Wareham and Elliott both had opportunities on goal. Our hosts stung the gloves of Bergstrom in goal through Nya Kirby as the Finnish shot-stopper parried comfortably away.
With chances few and far between, both sides enjoyed spells of possession with no real end product. Play was either resulting in an over-hit shot or over-hit pass as half-time was fast approaching.
As the half was coming to a close, a brilliant run from Elliott resulted in him winning a corner for us. A wicked delivery from Vale found Mbuyamba’s head and as his attempt was blocked, the ball spilling towards the far post to Haigh, who tapped home.
After an even half, considering the chances that were created, we deserved the lead.
As we searched and searched for another goal early in the second period, disaster struck as an attempted clearance from Gilchrist in the penalty area resulted in him accidentally kicking Kymani-Gordon. The referee had no choice but to give a penalty, which was converted by Kirby.
We did not let this affect our play and it was impressive how we were moving the ball. Dangerous deliveries into the box were begging for touches and it was clear that Palace were struggling to deal with our set-pieces, with Mbuyamba going close on two separate occasions.
The game which looked like it would end in a draw took a dramatic turn of events in the final 10 minutes. Bergstrom could only turn away a shot from an Eagles attacker and Kymani-Gordon was the quickest to react to the loose ball as he tapped home. This was their first real chance of the second half and they managed to convert.
A goal from a set-piece for us was looking increasingly likely and Gilchrist managed to deliver that as he accurately headed home after another dangerous delivery from Vale.
However, we could not keep out Palace who secured the winner in this game. We had multiple chances to clear the ball away from our box but paid the price for not doing so as Kymani-Gordon picked up the loose ball and directed a weak left-footed effort goalwards, which took a wicked deflection off Gilchrist to its way into the net.
We pushed for an equaliser but were unable to find one in the closing moments of the game, meaning we went down to our seventh loss of the season.
Chelsea (3-4-2-1) Lucas Bergstrom; Josh Brooking, Xavier Mbuyamba, Alfie Gilchrist (Bryan Fiabema 90+1); George Nunn, Charlie Webster (Xavier Simons 80), Ben Elliott, Dion Rankine; Harvey Vale, Joe Haigh (Jude Soonsup-Bell 78) Jayden Wareham
Unused subs: Prince Adegoke, Billy Gee
Booked Nunn 45+1
Scorers Haigh 45+1; Gilchrist 82
Crystal Palace (4-2-3-1) Owen Goodman; David Boateng, Martin Kelly, Cardo Siddik, Nathan Ferguson (Danny Imray 76); Aidan Steele, Nya Kirby; Jesurun Rak-Sakyi, John-Kymani-Gordon, David Omilabu (Noah Watson 90+1); Robert Street (Killian Philips 60)
Unused subs Joseph Whitworth, Dylan Thiselton
Booked Ferguson 45+1; Boateng 72
Scorers Kirby 52; Kymani-Gordon 79; Gilchrist (OG) 86