14/08/2015: Chelsea U21s 1-3 Saints U21s

Saints U21s recorded a long overdue victory over their Chelsea counterparts at Stamford Bridge. The Blues have inflicted a few heavy defeats over Martin Hunter’s side over recent years, but it was Saints who were more clinical in front of goal on this occasion.

The visitors started off a bit tentatively. Chelsea had the initiative early on, with Saints defending well as a compact unit. Sam McQueen had the away side’s first opportunity, almost catching out Chelsea keeper Bradley Collins.

Saints were gradually getting to grips with the game, building patiently and attacking from out-wide with support from the full-backs. Tammy Abraham did well to get his shot away surrounded by a crowd of players on 18. Chelsea were made to pay for their profligacy in front of goal, with Saints taking a 22nd minute lead. Lloyd Isgrove whipped in a superb cross on the left, with McQueen hooking the ball in at the far post.

The action remained fairly balanced after the goal. John Swift struck the ball over the bar from a free-kick just outside the area. Marcus Barnes headed agonisingly wide of the post from a deflected cross on the right. Seconds later Chelsea almost equalised, with Abraham hitting the post and Alex Kiwomya shooting wide on the rebound.

On 29 Armani Little made a great burst through the middle, before hitting the post. McQueen smashed in the rebound from about a yard out. Saints began passing with greater speed and confidence. The visitors gave away a couple of free-kicks in potentially dangerous areas, but Chelsea were mostly wasteful. The home side had a good chance to reduce the deficit right before half-time, missing a one-on-one.

Chelsea mixed things up at half-time with a double substitution. The home side had some chances, but Saints always looked dangerous on the break, and generally defended well. Jay Dasilva thumped the ball against the post from outside the area. The home side were well contained by their opponents and soon began to run out of steam. Jake Hesketh wrapped up the points on 74. A Chelsea defender failed to stop a simple cross, allowing Hesketh to nip in and hammer the ball into the roof of the net.

Chelsea finished the game strongly, testing Saints with a late goal-mouth scramble. They finally got their goal in stoppage time, with Abraham turning before shooting through Will Wood’s legs. They pushed forward for a second, but by that time it was too little too late.

Saints can be very pleased with their efforts. The team that took to the field at Stamford Bridge was less experienced than the one that drew with Man City on Monday, but you wouldn’t have guessed it by the performance. Much was down to the effort and organisation of the team, rather than individual brilliance. Credit is due to players like Isted and Ollie Cook, who rose to the challenge, having come from U18 football. They didn’t look out of place with the likes of McQueen, who bullied a quality Chelsea side.

Player Comments

Isted: One botched clearance aside, a very assured display from a player just starting at this level. Always well positioned and some good shot-stopping

McCarthy: A very good display. Made some superb runs forward to support McQueen out wide on the right, and also strong defensively

Cook: Fundamentals were good. A good start to the season for a player with little experience at this level as of yet

Wood: A few minor errors, but also some brave defending. Overall a steady outing

Debayo: Got caught out a few times in the first-half pushing too far forward, but more astute after the break. Passing hit and miss

Gape: Involved in some physical battles in the middle of the park

Little: Defensively disciplined, but able to break forward on occasions. Did well for the second goal

McQueen: Heavily involved with everything good Saints did going forward. Showed strength on the ball and timed his runs to perfection

Hesketh: Found pockets of space in dangerous areas and also won plenty of free-kicks

Isgrove: Drifted out of the games on occasions, but when he did have to ball he usually made good use of it. Superb cross for the first goal and good pressing throughout

Barnes: Nowhere near as impressive as he was on Monday against Manchester City, but still worked hard for the team

Match Details

Chelsea: Abraham (89)

Saints: McQueen (22, 29) Hesketh (74)

Chelsea line-up: Collins, Dabo, Tomori, Conroy (Wright 46), Dasilva, Clarke-Salter, Swift (Palmer 46), Kiwomya, Musonda, Mitchell (Ugbo 64), Abraham

Subs not used: Baxter, Suljic

Saints line-up: Isted, McCarthy, Cook, Wood, Debayo, Gape, Little, McQueen, Hesketh, Isgrove, Barnes

Subs not used: Hallet, Bakary, Slattery, Sims, Olomola