Our youth team got their Under-18 Premier League Cup campaign started with a convincing 2-0 victory over Blackburn Rovers.
After a goalless first half, Marcel Lewis opened the scoring in stunning fashion with an unstoppable free-kick before Sam McClelland headed the Blues into second place after the opening game.
Head Coach Ed Brand named a changed team from the 11 who overcame Reading 2-1 at Cobham last weekend. There were five tweaks in total and the first was in goal, Ethan Wady handed the jersey in place of Jake Askew, while Jordan Aina slotted into defence alongside James Clark who was an unused sub last weekend. Pierre Ekwah Elimby returned to midfield and Armando Broja was in from the start as part of the three-man attack.
Rovers thought they had taken the lead early on when Dan Pike’s attempt from distance was palmed into the path of Chanka Zimba, who found the back of the net with a diving header. Celebrations were cut short for the youngster though as the official on the near side had the flag up for offside.
Our hosts went close to an opener soon after, this time Sam Burns rose highest from a corner kick but his near-post header dropped the wrong side of the woodwork, much to Wady’s relief.
The Lancashire side looked most likely to take the lead and it almost came midway through the first 45, the lively forward Zimba fizzing a shot beyond the target from 20 yards having turned well in the build-up.
Chelsea’s first meaningful attempt on goal came through Dion Rankine. The midfielder received a pass from Lewis Bate and advanced into the box but could only watch his left-footed curling strike whistle wide.
An impressive start to the second half saw Bate test the keeper himself after a well worked corner, but Lewis’ next effort would prove too good for Josh Eastham to deny.
Both Bate and Lewis stood over a 25-yard free-kick and the latter’s strike arrowed into the top corner, clipping the post on its way and leaving Eastham rooted to the spot. The spectacular opener saw Chelsea capitalise on their fast restart.
It was another set-piece which gave Chelsea their second of the afternoon. McClelland marched towards the penalty spot and met the corner-kick before the Rovers’ goalkeeper could claim it. That goal put daylight between the sides, 2-0 to the Blues.
Blackburn were to go close from their own dead ball situation though, Issac Whitehall fired a long-range attempt into the side-netting, which only proved to be a warning as the Blues held on for the clean sheet and share of the points.
Chelsea (4-3-3): Ethan Wady; James Clark, Charlie Wiggett, Sam McClelland, Jordan Aina (Josh Brooking 77); Pierre Ekwah Elimby, Lewis Bate, Marcel Lewis; Joe Haigh (Harvey Vale 69), Armando Broja, Dion Rankine (Samuel Iling-Junior 87)Unused subs: Jake Askew, Ben ElliottScorers: Lewis 51; McClelland 73
Blackburn: Jordan Eastham; Joseph Ferguson (Lenni Cirino h/t), Dan Pike, Jake Garrett, Flavien Boyomo, James Connolly, Sam Burns, Isaac Whitehall, Chanka Zimba (Zak Gilsenan 70), Jalil Saadi (Sam Durrant 74), Luke BrennanUnused subs: Ben Pleavin, Aidan Dowling