Chelsea Under-18s succumbed to their first defeat of the Premier League southern section campaign against West Ham on Saturday afternoon.
George Nunn’s early strike had the Blues ahead at Little Heath but the Hammers struck twice within two minutes to take the lead, which was ultimately enough to inflict our first loss of the season.
Levi Colwill went closest to earning a point for Chelsea – he had the ball in the back of the net after an hour but was harshly judged offside by the officials.
There was a late push for a draw but the Blues could find no way through after the introduction of Joe Haigh and Harvey Vale.
Ed Brand made one change to the starting 11 as Lewis Bate came back into the side in place of Bashir Humphreys who dropped to the bench.
Conditions were windy at Little Heath early on Saturday morning, but Chelsea were wide awake and alert to expertly convert an early chance through Nunn. Myles Peart-Harris provided the assist for the former Crewe man’s fifth goal of the season in all competitions. It was a brilliant left-footed finish by the forward from the edge of the box.
For the first half hour it was all Chelsea and we could’ve been three goals ahead with more clinical finishing.
Firstly, Lewis Bate picked out Peart-Harris whose attempt was parried back into the danger by goalkeeper Daniel Jinadu, Nunn was in the right place for the rebound but was beaten to the ball by the quick reactions of the Hammers defender.
Then, Charlie Wiggett’s well centred cross found Nunn, who looked our biggest threat, but he could only hit straight at Jinadu who again made the save before the danger was eventually cleared.
West Ham found an equaliser little under 10 minutes later and it was completely against the run of play, Keenan Appiah-Forson connected well with the ball from 18 yards and found the bottom corner of the net after 32 minutes – Jake Askew couldn’t quite reach the well-placed strike.
The hosts seemed to have the wind in their sails as half time approached and doubled their lead two minutes later. Attacking midfielder Vernon Parkes brought his team up the pitch and provided partner Lennon Peake with the ball for the finish. A complete turnaround and it was 2-1 West Ham at half-time.
Brand made two changes in the second-half in an attempt to regain momentum, Bashir Humpreys took Wiggett’s place and Haigh was on for Marcel Lewis. Between those two substitutes though, Chelsea Colwill turned the ball home after Sam McClelland and Humphreys helped on a Bate free-kick, but celebrations were cut short as the official on the nearside raised his flag for what looked like a tight offside decision.
Goalscorer Nunn was replaced by youngster Vale who had 12 minutes to make an impact. He linked up well with fellow substitute Haigh but the chances were in vain as the Blues suffered defeat.
You can catch Ed Brand’s boys in action on Wednesday 15 January at Aldershot when the FA Youth Cup returns. Bradford City are our opponents and you can support the boys with admission prices at £3 for adults and £1 for concessions.
Chelsea (3-4-3) Jake Askew; Sam McClelland (c), Levi Colwill, Charlie Wiggett (Bashir Humphreys 45); Dion Rankine, Xavier Simons, Lewis Bate, Sam Iling-Junior; Myles Peart-Harris, Marcel Lewis (Joe Haigh 71), George Nunn (Harvey Vale 78)Unused subs Ethan Wady, Josh BrookingBooked Wigget 39Scorer George Nunn 8
West Ham Daniel Jinadu, William Greenidge, Joshua Okotcha, Harrison Ashby, Jamal Baptiste (c), Lennon Peake (Gael Kileba 71), Veron Parkes, Keenan Appiah-Forson, Sebastian Nebyla (Samuel Nsumbu 86), Peter Stroud, Kamarai Simon-SwyerUnused subs Serine Sanneh, Jayden Fevrier, Christian VelikyBooked Ashby 58Scorers Appiah-Forson 32, Parkes 34