Dermot Drummy, who took an Under-19 side to Russia for a ground-breaking fixture on Wednesday, is delighted with both a win and the experience as a whole. There is little time for rest with the Under-21s in action on Friday.
The match against CSKA Moscow was the first away from home for a Chelsea side in the NextGen competition, and ended as a 1-0 win thanks to a second-half goal by 15-year-old Jeremie Boga. It reversed the result in the home meeting between the sides in August.
Chelsea were on top for the majority of Wednesday’s match and had the better chances in the first half – three falling to centre-back Danny Pappoe who started his first game since overcoming injury suffered at the back end of last season.
The Blues also had a goal disallowed and Islam Feruz was pulled down when through on goal in the second half, resulting in CSKA Moscow’s Anton Polyutkin being sent off.
The goal came with 20 minutes to play when Boga finished off a good team move. Chelsea were then also reduced to 10 men when substitute Jordan Houghton received a second booking.
‘Danny Pappoe’s chances were from great deliveries from Lewis Baker,’ reports Drummy.’Danny is a force in the air but he failed to connect with two of them that would have been goals. It was pleasing he came back for his first 90 minutes, he was outstanding in terms of his attitude to defending and his wanting to win and play for the cause. He inspired the team.
‘We had young players who came on during the game such as Boga, Connor Hunte, Charlie Colkett and Kevin Wright, and Fankaty Dabo who played 90 minutes. Sometimes playing a young side you start to lose control but when we brought them on in second half they were very fresh and enthusiastic, and the combination play for the goal was outstanding.
‘With Jordan getting sent off we had to go to 4-4-1 and the players had to learn a different situation but they acquitted themselves well. The mentality to stay in focus was realty pleasing.’
Prior Wednesday’s game, CSKA Moscow had won three out of three NextGen games. The strength of the opposition, the experience to be had from such an away trip and the fact we are fielding an Under-21 side away at Fulham two days later meant Drummy is utilising a wide pool of players at this time.
‘I took some of our more senior players to Moscow with the plan of playing them for 45 minutes and they were fantastic. Their attitude was great and they were a good example to the young boys on the trip. It was quite an arduous journey but the way the younger players conducted themselves was first class.
‘Against a strong Moscow side we thoroughly deserved the win so the whole experience was good with many bright players coming through.’
Some who played in Moscow will be asked to play at Craven Cottage on Friday evening as that age group looks for a win after two defeats and a draw in the last three league games. Lucas Piazon will move into the Under-21 squad for this game.
‘Lucas was fantastic against Wolves in the Capital One Cup, it is not easy for a player to come in for the first time and sustain the level he did,’ says Drummy.
‘The team selection is a balance at the moment. I am asking some of the more senior players now where they are going and how they are getting to the next level, and also playing some of the fresh young ones.
‘Jamal Blackman has to put in a performance because we need to stop the goals going in and we need to defend better than we have been.
‘Fulham away at Craven Cottage is going to be a tough game but it is the challenge that is going to make the players improve. It is nice to have these games coming think and fast because we all want games and training towards games rather than just 10 days of training.’
Kick off at Craven Cottage on Friday is at 7pm. Entry is £3 adults and £1 juniors/seniors.
The Chelsea team that beat CSKA Moscow was:
Mitchell Beeney; Fankaty Dabo, Daniel Pappoe, Alex Davey, Adam Nditi; George Saville (c) (Jordan Houghton), Ruben Loftus-Cheek (Charlie Colkett), Jeremie Boga; Islam Feruz (Kevin Wright), Patrick Bamford (Reece Mitchell), Lewis Baker (Connor Hunte).