Goals from Billy Gilmour and Myles Peart-Harris earned our development squad a point in Premier League 2 on Sunday afternoon.
Manchester City had a two-goal lead at half-time but Chelsea would have felt hard done by at that point as there had been little between the teams.
Games between these two sides are always entertaining and an inspired half-time team talk from Andy Myers set his side up for a much better second-half showing.
Gilmour was back in PL2 action as he returned from injury and struck Chelsea back into the game just three minutes after the restart. The Blues kept the pressure up with George Nunn and the Scottish teenager again going close, but it was Myles Peart-Harris to the resuce as he converted on 68 minutes to draw level. In the end, those were the only two goals we could manage, taking a first solo league point back to Cobham.
The young Blues
Myers opted for three changes from the midweek game in Bristol. Lucas Bergstrom was between the sticks in place of Karlo Ziger, Gilmour took Danny Drinkwater’s midfield spot and Nunn led the line as opposed to Charlie Brown.
Third place was up for grabs as the winner would occupy the spot in PL2, behind Derby County and Liverpool in the top two places.
A bright sunny afternoon in Manchester provided the stage for our youngsters, who were looking to get back to winning ways after a couple of defeats in the league.
Chelsea were first to have an attempt on goal as Tino Anjorin and Peart-Harris linked well on the right to find the inside run of Tino Livramento. The full-back’s shot was well defended by City defender Luke Mbete-Tabu though, as he deflected the ball wide.
Liam Delap went one closer than Livramento's earlier chance. His deft touch towards goal from the centre was only just seen behind by the combination of Bergstrom and Henry Lawrence. It was good defending for what seemed a certain City goal.
Chelsea were doing well keeping their hosts at bay, but a rare chance almost awarded them the lead. Lawrence’s clearance went only as far as Cole Palmer, who lashed a shot at goal. It had beaten Bergstrom and seemed as though it would hit the net until an excellent Dynel Simeu clearance kept the ball within inches of crossing the line.
As we reached the 30-minute mark, still the game was equal in terms of chances and equal in terms of the scores. Nunn had the chance to change that after his delayed run was found by Anjorin, the forward striking first time with his right foot but Cieran Slicker was alert to make the save.
Man City were the team to deliver the opener with 33 minutes on the clock. Delap created space for himself with a one-two to advance through the middle from the left and wrap the ball into the far corner from 20 yards. Bergstrom was stretching but couldn’t get a hand to the effort.
Just five minutes later, it was two for City. Tommy Doyle was on target from a 20-yard free-kick as a quick-fire double gave Chelsea work to do after the interval.
Anjorin was unable to continue in the second half as Thierno Ballo replaced him and the Austrian wasted no time in getting in on the action. He started the move which ultimately saw Nunn assist Gilmour in bending the ball into the net from 18 yards to bring the development squad back into the game three minutes after the restart.
Chelsea had the bit between their teeth now and Nunn in particular seemed fired-up. After winning the ball back, the forward moved towards the box and tried his luck with his left - Slicker was stretching and grateful to watch the ball drop behind the net off target.
Nunn was involved again moments later and this one was his closest of the game. Peart-Harris provided the cross, which the 18-year-old Republic of Ireland youth international headed on to the crossbar. Simeu was unable to convert the rebound as Chelsea looked threatening with every attack.
Again Chelsea moved forwards and Gilmour was next to test Slicker with a strike that hit the post and rebounded off the back of the keeper, who was unaware. Despite Chelsea appeals that Slicker appeared to carry the ball over his line as he recovered, the referee’s decision was not to award a goal and City’s lead was somehow still intact.
We finally got our second after 68 minutes and the newly-introduced Ballo was involved again. His low centre had Chelsea players queuing up to convert, both Simeu and Levi Colwill unable to connect but Peart-Harris made sure he did and slammed the ball into the roof of the net for the leveller.
Bergstrom, largely a spectator throughout the second half, was called into action to beat away Doyle’s powerful strike from close range. Neat play around the box had given the City man space behind our defence to test the keeper.
A complete turnaround was just out of reach of Myers’s men, who will be pleased with their second-half performance ultimately earning the young Blues a point in Manchester.
We are back at Kingsmeadow on Friday 4 December to take on Leicester City in a rescheduled PL2 clash. Kick-off in that game is 7pm.
Chelsea (4-2-3-1) Lucas Bergstrom; Tino Livramento, Dynel Simeu, Levi Colwill, Henry Lawrence; Billy Gilmour, Lewis Bate; Myles Peart-Harris, Tino Anjorin (Thierno Ballo ht), Marcel Lewis, George Nunn (Bryan Fiabema 65)Unused subs Charlie Brown, Sami Tlemcani, Pierre Ekwah-ElimbyBooked Colwill 37Scorers Gilmour 48; Peart-Harris 68
Man City Cieran Slicker, Conrad Egan-Riley, Colin Doyle, Luke Mbete-Tabu, Claudio Gomes, Adrian Bernabe (Morgan Rogers 60), Romeo Lavia, Tommy Doyle, Lukas Nmecha (James McAtee 70), Cole Palmer (Sam Edozie 82), Rory DelapUnused subs Ben Knight, Tom ScottBooked Bernabe 39; Doyle 51; Lavia 89Scorers Delap 33; Doyle 38