A youth team featuring seven schoolboys throughout the 90 minutes earned a league point away at second-placed Fulham this evening [Tuesday]. Chances were infrequent for both sides though more were made by Chelsea and Charlie Colkett (pictured above) came closest as he thumped the post from 25 yards towards the end of the first half.
The second period remained scoreless with the young Blues having an effort blocked on the line and although the visitors were the better side, these west London rivals shared the points.
There was one change made by manager Adi Viveash from the side that beat West Brom at the weekend, with Jordan Houghton coming into midfield alongside Charlie Colkett and Kyle Scott.
Scott was one of a quartet of Under-16s to feature in the starting 11, with Jake Clarke-Salter, Jay Dasilva and striker Tammy Abraham keeping their places. George Brady, Ola Aina and Fankaty Dabo made up the remainder of the back four, protecting Bradley Collins in goal, while Charly Musonda provided the width from the right.
It was an even opening to the game as dusk fell over Motspur Park, though it was Chelsea with the game’s first couple of sights at goal inside the first 20 minutes. Musonda drifted infield from the right flank and fired narrowly over after six minutes, before a clever move saw the advanced Dasilva tee up a chance for Colkett. The captain shot just wide.
Fulham’s first chance arrived midway through the first half as a promising attack led to George Williams sliding the ball through for Aaron Redford, however the striker’s final effort flew marginally wide of the near post.
That propelled the hosts into their brightest spell of the game and a flurry of corners required strong defending from the young Blues, then Clarke-Salter slid bravely to thwart another advance from the Whites.
In response, Aina advanced strongly down the right and was found well by Musonda, though his low centre across goal evaded Abraham and Dasilva couldn’t quite connect at the back post. A minute later, Houghton hit a side-footed effort just wide following Dasilva’s layoff as the game opened up.
Chelsea came closest to a breakthrough goal as the interval approached, Colkett rifling a left-footed drive off the base of the post, and Brady and Houghton were forced into some intelligent defending down the other end in the final minutes of the half.
There was a double change for the visitors at the break as schoolboys Faiq Bolkiah and Ruben Sammut replaced Colkett and Scott in midfield. Dasilva fired inches wide from the left less than two minutes after the restart, however chances remained limited for both teams.
Chelsea threatened again just after the hour mark as Bolkiah saw a deflected shot fly behind for a corner, following a flowing move involving Musonda, Dasilva and substitute Ike Ugbo. Musonda floated the resulting corner in from the right and Aina climbed highest to connect at the back post, though his header was cleared off the line by the covering defender on the post.
Chelsea looked most likely to find a winner and, after weathering a spell of pressure from the hosts in the early part of the half, continued to probe in the final third. Musonda’s switch to a more central role brought the young Belgian into the heart of the Blues attack, though a combination of Dasilva and Sammut at the end of one move were snuffed out as they advanced inside the penalty box.
Bolkiah and Musonda combined on the edge of the box but Fulham continued to keep Viveash’s side at bay as the defences ultimately won the day.
Next up for the Academy is an Under-21 league game against Blackburn Rovers this Friday, 28 March at Cobham, a match being screened live on Chelsea TV.
With his team having played on Saturday and then on Tuesday, youth team manager Adi Viveash was very pleased with a display that only lacked the finishing touch in front of goal.
‘Fulham are one of the strongest teams at Under-18s and they didn’t play on Saturday so it took a big, physical effort and we created the better chances,’ he said.
‘Bradley Collins in our goal didn’t really have a save to make and we created some good chances, we just didn’t take them. We were the dominant team in the match and just couldn’t score.
‘There was some very enterprising play on the left. Jay Dasilva was very good again and the timing of his movement with Fankaty Dabo to create a chance for Tammy Abraham at the start of the second half was super.
‘Tammy had one of those weeks when it hasn’t fallen for him. In both games he could have scored goals but he kept working until he got a knee on the thigh and had to come off. ‘
Viveash had words of praise for the rearguard that limited the Fulham threat.
‘Defensively Ola Aina was very good. In the second half Fulham put George Williams who is a very good player against him and it was a good battle but Ola came out on top, he just needs to sharpen up a bit of the ball.
‘George Brady and Jake Clarke-Salter did really well against two good strikers and two good clean sheets in two games is a real positive for our young back four with a young goalkeeper.
‘Now we have Man United on Saturday, a great youth team game and three games in seven days is quite a toil at this stage of the season but we keep everyone ticking over and there are some players in this team who are really pushing to be in the Youth Cup semi-final and that is what I want. It is going to be a difficult selection.’
Chelsea Bradley Collins; Ola Aina, George Brady, Jake Clarke-Salter, Fankaty Dabo; Jordan Houghton,, Kyle Scott (Faiq Bolkiah h/t), Charlie Colkett (c) (Ruben Sammut h/t); Charly Musonda, Jay Dasilva, Tammy Abraham (Ike Ugbo 50)
Unused subs Jared Thompson, Mukhtar Ali
Fulham Marek Rodak, Ryheem Sheckleford, Noe Baba, Liam Donnelly, Elijah Adebayo, Solomon Sambou (Ravin Shamsi 77), Josh Smile, Emerson Hyndman, Aaron Redford (Steven Humphrys 56), Mekhi Leacock-McLeod, George Williams
Unused subs Magnus Norman, Josh Walker, Marlon Fossey
By Sam Poplett