The young Blues won at Cobham to secure their place in the end-of-season play-offs that will determine the league’s champions. West Brom levelled twice after first half goals from Izzy Brown and Lewis Baker, before substitute Kasey Palmer put the hosts back in front midway through the first half and Baker fired a wonderful strike past Rose late on.
Drummy made three changes from the side that beat Aston Villa 4-2 at Villa Park last week, with Tika Musonda, Izzy Brown and Tomas Kalas involved from the start. Tika Musonda started on the right of a back four that also included Kalas, Isak Ssewankambo and Adam Nditi, while Brown led the line up front supported from out wide by Charly Musonda and Reece Mitchell.
Lewis Baker captained the team from midfield alongside John Swift and Islam Feruz started in the number 10 role just behind Brown. Jamal Blackman continued in goal.
The visitors had the game’s first opportunity after seven minutes as Blackman denied Aaron Birch from close range and then Kemar Roofe’s effort on the follow-up was blocked strongly. Both sides were feeling their way into the match with alternating spells of possession, though the deadlock was broken after 11 minutes.
Swift supplied for Brown and the former West Brom striker found some space before striking a left-footed effort that deflected and looped up over Jack Rose in the young Baggies goal and nestled in the back of the net to take his goalscoring tally for the campaign into double figures.
The goal injected confidence throughout the home side and a super move involving Baker and Swift almost fashioned another glaring sight at goal for Brown, though Baker’s low centre from the left was cut out well by a recovering defender. Samir Nabi unleashed a fierce effort from the edge of the box that fizzed narrowly past the near post.
However, West Brom were soon level after half an hour as Roofe, appearing conspicuously offside, was found in behind the defence and finished with a delicate chip over the onrushing Blackman.
The scores were level for just two minutes as the young Blues fired themselves back in front through their captain. Brown turned provider from the right and centred for the supporting Baker, whose powerful shot was too strong to handle for Rose and earned the England youth international his 15th goal of the season.
Feruz dragged a shot wide after a great move spearheaded by Charly Musonda from deep, after the young Belgian had twisted his way out of a tight situation on the halfway line and escaped from a few defender, before the visitors grabbed their second leveller of the half. A deep free kick was dealt with poorly and Liam O’Neil found some space to finish past Blackman from close range.
The second period resumed with a couple of changes for the hosts as Drummy introduced Nathan Ake and Fankaty Dabo in place of Kalas and Tika Musonda. Swift hit a fierce drive from distance that Rose did well to keep hold of and the Blues were back in front after 20 minutes of the restart.
Baker’s corner from the right was well floated and Ake flew in from deep to win the header and, after the ball had ricocheted off a couple of bodies, Palmer managed to turn it in via the inside of the post and a desperate late glove from the goalkeeper.
The Blues continued to push forward as they searched for a killer fourth goal and to repeat the scoreline from last week at Villa Park, though the visitors also remained a threat. Ake was forced into some impressive defending to stop the Baggies’ advances, while down the other end Kyle Howkins was strong against Brown as the striker looked to escape from the last defender.
Baker hit a free kick from distance over Rose’s bar and then had the game’s final say as he beat Rose brilliantly from 25 yards with a great drive late on. That secured a second successive 4-2 win for the Under-21s and means they join Liverpool as guaranteed in the play-offs.
Next up for the Academy is a league trip to the Emirates for the Under-21s on Tuesday 22 April to take on Arsenal in their final league game of the season. The Blues can overtake Liverpool and top the league with a win.
Drummy spoke afterwards about how he was far from satisfied with his players at the break but admitted he was delighted they fought back to win and put themselves in a position to top the league next week. Speaking to the official Chelsea website, he said: ‘We’re really pleased with the win.
‘In the first half we let them play and I was really unhappy with the boys at half-time, even though we got two goals, but Nathan Ake gets us back in it with his contribution for the third goal, showing sheer determination and Kasey Palmer came on and changed the game for us in terms of competitiveness and allowing us to go forward.
‘We’ve had to balance the players over the last few weeks with the Youth Cup as well, and we’re really proud of Adi [Viveash] and the boys. They were fantastic to watch at the Emirates and to get to three Youth Cup finals in a row is a super achievement.
‘We haven’t had a perfect day but we’ve won and we deserve this. We go to Emirates looking to win the game and top the league.’
The players, staff and officials held a minute’s silence before kick-off to pay their respects to West Ham youngster Dylan Tombides, who passed away yesterday after a battle with testicular cancer, and Drummy added: ‘There are a lot of tragedies in life and we wanted to pay our respects. He played against us earlier in the season at Aldershot and our thoughts go out to his family and to West Ham Football Club.’
Chelsea Jamal Blackman; Tika Musonda (Fankaty Dabo h/t), Isak Ssewankambo, Tomas Kalas (Nathan Ake h/t), Adam Nditi; John Swift, Lewis Baker (c), Islam Feruz (Kasey Palmer 53); Reece Mitchell, Charly Musonda, Izzy Brown.
Unused subs Bradley Collins
Scorers Brown 11, Baker 30, Palmer 65
West Brom Jack Rose, Cameron Gayle (Bradley Garmston 74), Wesley Atkinson, Liam O’Neil (c), Kyle Howkins, Callam Jones, Kemar Roofe, Aaron Birch, Alex Jones, Ryan Pace (Jordan Francis 70), Samir Nabi (Joe Ward 59)
Unused subs: Bradley Garmston, Alex Palmer, Rees Wedderburn
Scorers Roofe 28, O’Neil 38