Chelsea’s Under-18s continued their unbeaten start to the season with a dramatic but convincing 1-4 victory over Leicester City.
We went in to half time a goal up thanks to a neat finish from Joe Haigh at the back post but a resurgent Leicester side levelled from the spot after the break.We were awarded a penalty of our own almost immediately and after the ‘keeper saved the initial effort, Armando Broja slammed home from close range to restore our lead.There was daylight between the sides when defender Charlie Wiggett was gifted a goal at the back post following a Henry Lawrence corner-kick.Finally, second-half substitute George Nunn wrapped up the points to see us remain unbeaten as he swept home from Lawrence’s centre at the end of a slick counter-attack.Ed Brand made five changes to the starting 11 who tasted PL Cup victory over Blackburn last weekend. Jake Askew was named between the sticks with Josh Brooking, Dynel Simeu and Levi Colwill just in front of the last line of defence.The final change was in midfield where Henry Lawrence returned to the side taking up a holding position in the centre three.
We got the game underway in Leicester and had our first chance after just two minutes. Joe Haigh’s pass found Armando Broja inside the box, the shot that followed looked to have beaten the Oliver Boshworth but his trailing leg somehow denied the striker.A foul on Dion Rankine just outside the danger area gave Chelsea a second opportunity, Marcel Lewis and Pierre Ekwah-Elimby stood over the free-kick but the former’s whipped shot couldn't find the target.Haigh went close for Chelsea after a quarter of an hour. He took Wigglett’s cross-field diagonal pass in his stride and went for goal, despite having Broja as an option. Boshworth did well to deny the wide-man’s shot.Haigh was to make no mistake with his next chance though. Great wing-play from Rankine found his partner at the back post and he slotted home to open the scoring. That was Haigh’s first of the season. 0-1 the Blues.Leicester looked for an immediate response. Terrel Pennant struck over the target with a dangerour shot from 18-yards. The opening came after he picked up a loose ball in midfield and menacingly advanced on goal.The hosts grew into the game and got better as the half wore on but two chances came and went as we approached the break.Firstly, Liam Loughlin tried his luck from the left flank but Jake Askew was alert to beat the ball clear, however the clearance fell to Ethan Fitzhugh who rushed his effort from six yards, missing the target.The second came from the right, Dennis Gyamfi’s centre found Dempsey Arlott-John who volleyed over Askew’s net. That was a huge let off for the Blues as the Leicester man should have scored.On the stroke of half-time Broja was excellently picked out by Lewis having beaten the offside trap. As all the Leicester defenders looked towards the official for a flag, the Albania Under-21 international took a touch and fired at goal, forcing Boshworth to make the save. 0-1 to the Blues at the break.The home side came out for the second half refreshed and questionably grabbed an equaliser from the spot when Levi Colwill was adjudged to have clipped his man. Left-back Shane Flynn stepped up and confidently converted the resulting penalty. Game on at 1-1.Despite the harsh decision, Chelsea didn’t feel sorry for themselves and attacked straight from the whistle. There was another big call for the referee to make as he awarded the Blues a spot-kick of our own after Haigh was tripped up by his marker on the hour.Broja stepped up to take the kick but Boshworth was equal to the initial effort, luckily the rebound fell kindly for the forward who slammed home and restored our lead in dramatic fashion.Much to Brand's delight, the gap in the score-line was stretched just three minutes later. Defender Charlie Wiggett benefitted from a weak Boshworth punch and volleyed over the line at the back post, putting breathing space between the sides.
Chelsea's two-goal deficit didn’t stop Leicester from causing problems for our defence though. Arlott-John had a number of attempts saved by the alert Askew between the sticks. He looked most likely to provide something for the hosts.Play began to look scrappy as the full-time whistle loomed, but with two additional minutes signalled there was just enough time for the Blues to make it four from a quick counter-attack.Lawrence weaved his way into the danger area and showed great awareness to cut the ball back, finding newly introduced George Nunn who coolly wrapped up the three points for the Blues. The points mean Chelsea remain one of three teams on 19 points at the top of the PL Under-18 table.Up next for Ed Brand’s side is Norwich City. The Canaries will travel to Cobham to take on the Blues on Saturday 19 October.Chelsea (4-2-3-1): Jake Askew; Josh Brooking (James Clark 63), Charlie Wiggett, Dynel Simeu (c), Levi Colwill; Pierre Ekwah-Elimby, Henry Lawrence; Dion Rankine (George Nunn 72), Joe Haigh (Harvey Vale 82), Marcel Lewis; Armando BrojaUnused subs: Lucas Bergstrom, Jordan AinaScorer: Haigh 18, Broja 61, Wigget 64, Nunn 90Booked: Simeu 56Leicester Oliver Boshworth, Dennis Gyamfi, Shane Flynn, Connor Barrett, Tom Sams, Sidnei Tavares, Dempsey Arlott-John, Liam Loughlin, Will Russ, Ethan Fitzhugh, Terrel PennantScorer: Flynn 59