A goal in each half, scored by Charlie Colkett and Fankaty Dabo, were just reward for a dominant display from our Under-18s at Cobham this afternoon.
We struck woodwork four times in a first 45 minutes that was played almost entirely in West Brom’s half and it took until after the half-hour mark for us to finally break the deadlock, Colkett finishing calmly from 16 yards out. More chances came and went before Dabo wrapped up the win on 81 minutes, outpacing the visitors’ defence, taking the ball round the West Brom keeper and stroking it into the unguarded net.
Next up for our Under-18s is a trip to Motspur Park to take on Fulham on Tuesday evening.
Adi Viveash made four changes from the side that had recorded a fine 3-2 victory at Reading on Monday. Ola Aina and Dabo came into the full-back slots while George Brady returned in central defence alongside Jake Clarke-Salter. In midfield, Kyle Scott started his first league game of the season.
From the very off Chelsea took the game to their visitors and our youngsters were unfortunate not to be ahead into three minutes. Scott’s industrious running created space out wide for Charly Musonda who rattled the post with a fearsome first-time drive.
Before the quarter hour was up Ethan Ross, the West Brom keeper, had produced fine stops from Mukhtar Ali and the lively Musonda. The latter save led to a corner which Clarke-Salter was able to collect, turn and shoot from, but again the woodwork came to West Brom’s rescue as the tall defender’s strike thudded against the foot of the far post.
The Chelsea chances kept on coming. This time Musonda was the provider, setting up Charlie Colkett whose shot took a slight deflection and whistled fractionally past Ross’s post. The resulting set-piece again proved too hot for the Baggies to handle; swung in low by Musonda, it was bizarrely left by the man guarding the near post. The ball struck wood for a third time and was somehow scrambled away.
On 26 minutes it looked like we had finally got our deserved breakthrough when Tammy Abraham met the rampaging Aina’s perfect cross with a powerful header but it went the wrong side of the post.
West Brom’s respite didn’t last long, though. Jay Dasilva, playing in a wide left position and like Musonda on the opposite flank a threat throughout, left Josh Ezewelle on his backside with a combination of skill and pace, before calmly teeing up Colkett as he approached the 18-yard box. The captain coolly stroked his shot into the bottom corner and with 33 minutes played our dominance had now been rewarded.
Colkett nearly doubled his and his team’s advantage five minutes later but Ross produced an outstanding save to tip his rocket onto the crossbar. By the time the referee blew his whistle to signal half-time soon after West Brom had barely ventured into the Blues’ half and had just a tame free-kick that Collins dealt with comfortably to show for their efforts.
Having barely posed any problems for our backline before the break West Brom came close to levelling inside the first 45 seconds after it. A rebound off Brady looped up invitingly for Alex Palmer but he headed over from close range. It required a fantastic saving tackle from Clarke-Salter not long after to halt a dangerous Baggies’ break.
We soon found our second-half groove. First, Musonda drew a fine stop from Ross and then Abraham slotted wide with the goal at his mercy. Dasilva had done superbly to win the ball back in midfield to create the latter of those two openings. Our left-hand side had been a source of constant issues for West Brom who couldn’t stop Dabo forcing his way into the box but his cross-cum-shot flashed beyond both Abraham and the far post.
Viveash made all three subs available to him with the game heading into its final quarter, bringing on the trio of Faiq Bolkiah, Reuben Sammut and Ike Ugbo. It was the latter’s debut for the Under-18 side and he drew a good save from the overworked Ross soon after.
With nine minutes remaining the victory was wrapped up by Fankaty Dabo, who showed devastating pace to race on to a high ball over the top and knock the ball past Ross. He was left with the simplest of tasks to tap the ball into the empty net for his third goal of the campaign.
As the clock ticked down space opened up and a number of decent counter-attacking opportunities were wasted by the young Blues but in the end the 2-0 victory was a thoroughly merited one after a dominant display all over the pitch.
Adi Viveash was very pleased with a second successive victory ahead of a busy few weeks for his youngsters.
‘It was a very good performance; we created lots of chances and produced some great attacking play, in the first half especially,’ he said. ‘The one development you can look at is the finishing at times; their keeper had a really good game and we hit the crossbar and post four times.
‘The movement in midfield and the way they got space and released eachother was very good. We managed to get in behind quite a defensive West Brom block that sat because we played through it very quickly. The two against ones we created in wide areas were a key part in the game. Jay Dasilva, in an unfamiliar left-wing role, was the best player on the pitch by a long way. We were worthy winners in the end.’
Chelsea (4-3-3): Bradley Collins; Ola Aina, George Brady, Jake Clarke-Salter, Fankaty Dabo; Mukhtar Ali (Reuben Sammut 69); Charlie Colkett (c), Kyle Scott (Faiq Bolkiah 62); Charly Musonda, Tammy Abraham (Ike Ugbo 69), Jay Dasilva.
Unused subs Jared Thompson.
Scorers Colkett 33, Dabo 81