Chelsea Under-21s kept their chances of reaching the knockout stages of the EFL Trophy alive last night as they secured the extra point on offer with a 4-3 penalty shoot-out win over Northampton Town at the Sixfields Stadium, following a 2-2 draw in 90 minutes.
Our Under-21s put in a good display and were very unfortunate not to get the win last night, Ronnie Stutter and Michael Golding scoring either side of two Northampton goals in the first half.
The second half saw us have the lion's share of possession and also the chances to win the game as Stutter, Brodi Hughes and Jimmy-Jay Morgan all had opportunities.
Nevertheless, we would have to settle for a shoot-out win as we converted all our spot-kicks, while the home side missed their first and fourth penalties.
Mark Robinson gave his thoughts on the penalty shoot-out and how proud he is of the way his team handled the whole process.
'We have our own thing we do the day before the game and it seemed to pay off. All the penalties were confident and convincing.'
He added: 'It is very important that the environment is safe enough for the players to feel they can say that they are not feeling it on the night and we can shift them to a position where they should not be needed and that happened last night. That is not a weakness, it is a show of strength and shows they are putting the team first.'
The atmosphere would have been a great experience for some of our young Blues. who would have been experiencing this situation for the first time. It was also good to see a lot of travelling fans making the journey to support Chelsea.
'The support was brilliant and quite unexpected. Northampton played The Liquidator for the players to walk out to and I could hear our fans singing along. It was great to see definitely motivated our boys.'
He continued, revealing a conversation he had with Cobblers boss Jon Brady. 'I said to their manager that it was a nice welcome playing our song. He tried to tell me it was Northampton's song, I will not repeat what I said in response!
'At the end of the game our fans were even noisier and it really felt they recognised what a great shift the young players had put in. It was great to see and hear and we all really appreciated it.'
It was a young side that we put out last night and that is a testament to how well the older players are doing to be training and potentially being involved with the senior team. Robinson was proud with how well some of the younger boys did to maintain the high standards set, especially as it was their fourth game in 11 days.
'We ended up being younger than we even envisaged, so we just tried to paint a picture for them of what was going to be needed to win the game and to their credit, although there is always room for improvement, they mostly did everything they could to carry it out. We all felt very proud of them last night.'
Chelsea Under-21s have put themselves in a good position to qualify for the next round of the EFL Trophy, but need to beat Oxford United in our final group-stage game, knowing only a victory in normal time will be enough for progression.
That fixture will be played at the Kassam Stadium on Tuesday 7 November, with kick-off scheduled for 7pm.