Chelsea's Under-18s fell short of a derby-day victory against Fulham on Saturday morning.
After a dull first half Fulham took a slender lead into the interval, leaving Chelsea with work to do after the break as Charlie Webster registered our best chance of the game at that point. Joe Haigh headed us back on level terms with 16 minutes remaining but we were handed a late blow as the hosts regained their lead with just a minute to spare.
The young Blues
Ed Brand named a strong squad for the visit to our neighbours Fulham, Lucas Bergstrom was between the sticks while Bashir Humpreys came into the defensive line. Lewis Hall was named in the midfield just behind Jude Soonsup-Bell who led the line following his goal scoring exploits in the Youth Cup.
A cold, wet and windy training complex provided the venue for this morning’s game, but the opening 25 minutes lacked action with the battle in the middle of the park proving key from the first whistle. With few chances apart from an early Hall header that dropped wide of the mark, there was little to report.
Bergstrom was required to marshall a couple of shots to safety, with a headed effort from Ibane Bowat the most challenging save for the keeper to make.
Fulham lead at the interval
The hosts were gifted the lead as half-time approached and it came from a corner-kick. Matthew Dibley-Dias’ in-swinging kick was caught by the wind and inadvertently headed into his own net by goal Chelsea's Ben Elliott.
We pushed forward in an attempt to level things up and with no way through the Fulham defence, Webster took matters into his own hands and fired at goal from distance. The keeper was beaten as the ball dipped over him but against the woodwork, that was our best chance of the game moments before the whistle blew for the interval.
More of the same
The second-half started the same as the first did, and with little goal-mouth action Fulham were comfortably holding on to their single-goal lead. Chelsea probed on occasion but to no avail as it was difficult to turn possession into clear-cut chances.
However there were chances for Fulham, all of which came and went. Oliver Sanderson had the first and saw his headed attempt saved before tall forward Mika Bieretch got in behind our defence but scuffed his shot at the important moment.
Haigh heads Chelsea level
We were about to enter the final quarter and Chelsea were still chasing a goal, which eventually came from the head of an unlikely source. Elliott's wide free-kick was glanced home at the near post by Haigh for his first goal of the season.
Late blow for Chelsea
The derby got a little bit more feisty after Chelsea’s equaliser and it looked as though a draw was the fair result, right up until the last minute of normal time when Fulham regained their lead. Oliver O’Neil took aim from distance and the ball squirmed it’s way home much to the despair of the young Blues for the final kick of the game.
The defeat leaves us in seventh place on 14 points as we head into the final game of the season next weekend against Arsenal.
Chelsea 3-4-2-1 Lucas Bergstrom; Bashir Humphreys, Charlie Wiggett (c), Josh Brooking; Harvey Vale, Ben Elliott (Josh Tobin 86), Charlie Webster, Silko Thomas; Joe Haigh, Lewis Hall (Luke Badley-Morgan 81); Jude Soonsup-BellUnused subs Sami Tlemcani, Alex Kpakpe, Malik MothersilleBooked Webster 90Scorer Haigh 74
Fulham Alexander Borto, Luciano D’Auria-Henry, Thorsteinn Antonsson, Ibane Bowat, Idris Odutayo, Xavier Benjamin, Adrion Pajaziti, Matthew Dibley-Dias, Oliver O’Neil, Oliver Sanderson, Mika BierethUnused subs Stefan Parkes, Michael Olakigbe, Imani Lanquedoc, Georgios Okkas, Harvey AraujoBooked Benjamin 41Scorer Elliott (og) 37, O'Neil 89