Chelsea Under-21s head coach Mark Robinson knows the Blues need to face up to some hard truths when reflecting on a painful Premier League Cup semi-final defeat, which he felt was the team’s most disappointing performance of the season.

Friday night certainly wasn’t the way Chelsea had hoped our Premier League Cup campaign would come to an end. Having made it within one match of the final, we succumbed to a first-half onslaught from Fulham and never recovered, suffering a 4-0 loss at Kingsmeadow.

Speaking candidly after the match, head coach Mark Robinson insisted it would be negligent for him or the players to try and gloss over the problems they encountered, having fallen short in some important areas of their performance.

‘There’s no denying it was by far our most disappointing performance of the season and as coaches we need to look at the work we’ve put in and how we’ve prepared them, and the players need to look at themselves individually,’ he said.

‘Then we need to come together on Monday and come to a conclusion on how we move on and make sure the season doesn’t end flat for them. But right now there’s no denying that in a big game we’ve got our most disappointing result of the season.’

The damage was done early in the game, when Fulham took a two-goal lead in a little over 10 minutes, before extending their advantage to 4-0 before half-time.

Unsurprisingly, it was that opening spell which Robinson chose to focus on, admitting the Blues failed to match the visitors' early intensity and never really recovered from that start.

‘The first 20 minutes of games are often very pivotal and one of the biggest things we tell the players is that you’ve always got to earn the right to play,' he explained.

‘You have to do that in so many ways. Off the ball you have to win your duels, you have to win your second balls, you have to compete, you have to be aggressive, you have to get in their face.

‘On the ball you need to have the confidence to impose your style on the opposition and do the things that you do when you’re playing well. To be fair to Fulham, they did all of that and we didn’t. Then the game’s gotten away from you, it would take a small miracle to come back from that.

‘Although we did improve in the second half slightly, you’ve got to judge the performance when it matters and the game’s at its highest tempo, which was the first 20-30 minutes, and they were better than us in every department.’

The performance was all the more disappointing for the fact that it was so out of character for the Blues this season, having lost just three of our previous 16 matches in all competitions since the start of 2024, although when we have struggled it has tended to be against similar opposition, who play and press at a high tempo.

‘Looking at the season, we started indifferently, but that was fine because that’s about coming together as a group and we were a young side. We’ve gradually got better and for the bulk of the season, from maybe the first five or six games, we’ve ranged from okay to good to very good.

‘There haven’t been many poor performances, but I’ve got to say our less impressive performances have come against teams who have really put the pressure on us, and that’s when you need real personality to rise above it.

‘Some of those games we’ve got away with it because we’ve got more quality, but on Friday when we were up against that kind of tempo as well as quality, we came up short, and we’ve got to reflect on that.’

Robinson and his players now have week to do exactly that, before attempting to bounce back in our final fixture of the Premier League 2's regular season, before entering the championship play-offs.