New Under-18s head coach Ed Brand praised his players’ work ethic after they defeated the reigning champions Arsenal in his first competitive match in the role.

The young Blues faced the difficult task of taking on last season’s Under-18 Premier League South winners away on the opening day of the season, but issued a statement of intent with a strong performance and a 2-1 victory, despite testing conditions at the Gunners’ London Colney home.

‘It was a fantastic result,’ said Brand. ‘Coming away to Arsenal at any time is tough, but they’re reigning champions, so for the first game of the season it doesn’t get any tougher than that. I said to the boys afterwards, I don’t think we’ve won here in six years or so, so to come here and get the result is fantastic.

‘In the first half I was pleased with our performance. I thought we could have been a little bit better on the ball but we were the better team and had opportunities to maybe be two or three goals up at half-time, we just didn’t take them.

‘The second half was tough. We didn’t keep the ball well enough, we made it difficult for ourselves, but I can’t fault the effort and the application of the boys. They worked hard, put a shift in, and we looked relatively comfortable without being good enough on the ball ourselves, even if the last few minutes after Arsenal pulled one back were a bit nervous.’

That first-half performance was testament to the work put in by the players in pre-season, as Chelsea raced out of the blocks to take the lead inside the opening 15 minutes, and goalkeeper Lucas Bergstrom went in at the break without having a save to make.

‘They’ve been excellent in pre-season and they’re a good group. They take in all the information, they listen, they want to work hard and after the first 45 minutes I was very pleased, just frustrated that we didn’t get the second or third, because I knew the second half was going to be hard.

‘In these conditions it was difficult to get out. Any balls that went in the air were getting taken by the wind and a big part of our game is switching the play from side to side, and it just couldn’t happen on one side because it would come straight back at you. So it was difficult, but the lads found a way to win and that’s pleasing.’

Brand also had words of praise for centre-forward Armando Broja, after seeing him lead the line throughout and score both goals for the Blues, showing plenty of composure to finish calmly after being set free for the opener and then getting the second with a real poacher’s effort.

‘He’s not been with us all pre-season, he’s mixed it with us and with Andy Myers at the Under-23s, but he played for us against Leeds in pre-season and scored a hat-trick and was brilliant that day.

‘He’s got to learn to stay onside, but his hold up play at times was very good and he took his goals very well, especially his first goal. That will be a big confidence boost for him and I thought he was terrific.’