There was a victory for our youngsters in the opening game of the Under-17 Premier League Cup campaign against Reading this afternoon.
It was a first half of little goalmouth action in either box. Ronnie Stutter and Malik Mothersille were lively in attack but couldn’t give us an advantage at the break as we went in level.
However, with 14 minutes left on the clock at Cobham, we found the net through Mothersille, who finished off a lovely counter-attacking Chelsea move to secure the win in our opening group fixture.
The young Blues
Ed Brand was in the dugout for this afternoon’s fixture and he named a starting 11 consisting of players from our Under-15s, Under-16s and the more familiar Under-17 age group. Young Max Merrick was in goal while Billy Gee played in the centre of a back three. Richard Olise occupied right wing-back while Stutter and Leo Castledine operated from the middle and Mothersille led the line.
Conditions for our first Under-17 Premier League Cup game got underway in horrible Cobham conditions with rain and wind for the players to deal with but there were few chances to report in the opening exchanges.
The first notable bit of action came after 28 minutes and it fell for Chelsea, who will be disappointed with the referee’s final decision. Stutter got a shot away from the edge of the box, forcing Matthew Rowley into a save which he could only parry back into the path of our attacker. He was quick to react and pounce upon his own rebounded shot, prodding the ball into the net but the referee pulled play back as he judged the youngster to have fouled the Reading keeper in the process of scoring.
Next was Mothersille to have a go - his run from deep left the Reading defenders trailing and, with only the keeper to beat, he advanced on goal but couldn’t find the net for our opener.
The only Reading chance of the half came on the stroke of half-time when David Nyarko won possession back in midfield and made a darting run towards the box before he took aim at Merrick’s goal. Luckily for the young Blues, Alfie Gilchrist’s block deflected the danger away from the net.
Chelsea returned from the break with one change, Ben Elliott making way for Fillip Lissah, who slotted into the back three allowing Gee to move forward into central midfield.
It was a similar pattern of play for Chelsea as we continued to create chances and just needed to apply the finishing touches. Newly-introduced Lissah and midfielder Edwin Andersson both tested Rowley early in the half but the Reading stopper stood strong.
It had been all Chelsea at the mid-point of the second 45 minutes but a rare Reading attack almost produced a goal against the run of play. Gilchrist was called upon to make a heroic block for what looked a shot sure to trouble Merrick.
Our final change brought some experience into the young side. Josh Brooking replaced Richard Olise in defence and moments later Chelsea eventually found the goal to break the deadlock.
Stutter picked the ball up in the Chelsea half and sprinted towards goal. He spotted the run of Mothersille in the middle and unselfishly squared for the forward to neatly lift the ball over the grounded Rowley.
It should have been two for the Blues after intricate play between Mothersille and Mendel-Idowu allowed Stutter to get a shot away. He beat the keeper but the post denied the youngster a deserved goal. In the end, Mothersille's strike was enough for an opening-day three points in this year's inaugural Under-17 cup competition.
Next for our youth team is the semi-final of the delayed 2019/20 FA Youth Cup. Manchester United are the opposition as we travel to St George’s Park to play out the remainder of last season’s competition. The game is live on BT Sport this Friday 30 October, kick-off 7.45pm.
Chelsea (3-4-2-1) Max Merrick; Alfie Gilchrist, Billy Gee, Derrick Abu; Richard Olise (Josh Brooking 73), Leo Castledine, Ben Elliott (Filip Lissah), Alex Kpakpe, Ronnie Stutter, Edwin Andersson (Tudor Mendel-Idowu 70), Malik MothersilleUnused subs Teddy Curd, Louis FlowerBooked Mothersille 83Scorer Mothersille (74)
Reading Matthew Rowley, Tyrell Ashcroft, Samuel Paul, Benjamin Purcell, Michael Strickland (c), Trialist A, Trialist B (Ashton Greaver 60), Jay Senga, Jahmari Clarke, David Nyarko, Jeremiah Okine-PetersUnused subs Kelvin Abrefa, Tom Norcroft, Jacob Borins