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U23 Report: Friday night Blues for Albion

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Premier League 2 leaders Chelsea maintained their unbeaten start to the new season and retained pole position with a 2-1 win over Albion’s under-23s at Stamford Bridge this evening.

By Paul Camillin • 13 September 2019

By Paul Hazlewood
Jack Spong gets away from his man at Stamford Bridge

Chelsea were good value for their win, but Simon Rusk’s side also had their moments against one of the tougher opponents they’ll face this season, with Alex Cochrane heading a late consolation in stoppage time.

Albion’s task seemed tough enough before they saw their opponents team for the game, but the Blues line-up included Reece James and Callum Hudson-Odoi, as the pair returned from injury — and it was the latter who created a great opportunity for the home side inside the first ten minutes.

England international Hudson-Odoi floated an inviting cross from the left, and right winger Tariq Lamptey was on the end of it, but flashed his header back across goal and wide of the opposite post.

By Paul Hazlewood
Haydon Roberts surges out of defence

Albion’s first attack of note came just after the quarter-hour mark, as Cochrane got forward well on the left to cross for Gwargis arrving at the far post; the Albion man got his shot away, but saw it blocked by Chelsea skipper Marc Guehi.

A healthy Stamford Bridge crowd buzzed with anticipation every time Hudson-Odoi was in possession, although his shot from range was an easy claim for Tom McGill in the Albion goal.

McGill — who made his debut for England’s under-20s in midweek — could do little about the opening goal, which came from a moment of real quality from Henry Lawrence.

Tight to the by-line on the left, the 17-year-old midfielder showed great feet to work an opening, but he still had plenty to do from a tight angle, and showed quick thinking to curl a fine right-footed shot into the top right corner.

By Paul Hazlewood
Albion look to block a shot from Reece James

Chelsea were enjoying more of the possession, but Albion dug in and kept themselves in the game. Their best chances were coming on the counter-attack, and Ryan Longman was sent clean through on goal.

He showed good composure to side step Chelsea keeper Nicholas Tie, but his scuffed shot was cleared by goalscorer Lawrence.

Longman was quickest to the loose ball, and teed up Gwargis, but his first-time shot on the run went wide of the right post, as Albion spurned two good chances to go in at the break on level terms.

By Paul Hazlewood
Alex Cochrane drives forward in west London

Chelsea withdrew James at the break, while Hudson-Odoi was substituted after an hour, after Albion had enjoyed a bright start to the second half — but for all their approach work, they lacked a cutting edge.

Rusk introduced striker Bojan Radulovic in place of Gwargis after 69 minutes, with Longman switching to a wide position, for the Serbian to play through the centre.

Marcel Lewis doubled Chelsea's lead with 17 minutes left to play, as a corner from the right was met by Tino Anjorin. The initial effort was blocked by Longman, but Lewis was there to pounce and make it 2-0.

By Paul Hazlewood
Peter Gwargis in action against Chelsea

Striker Charlie Brown went close to making it 3-0 with eight minutes remaining, as he broke clear on the Albion goal and fired past McGill, but the forward saw his effort crash against the left post, and bounce away to safety.

With time running out, another good Albion counter presented Radulovic with a chance at the near post, but his first-time shot went just wide of the upright.

By Paul Hazlewood
Alex Cochrane heads Albion's late consolation

Then in added time Albion got a consolation for their efforts, as Cochrane was on the end of Archie Davies’s cross with a glancing header to halve the deficit. But it was too little too late.

ALBION: McGill; O'Hora, Freestone, Roberts; A.Davies, J.Davies (Cashman 81), Spong (Jenks 46), Cochrane; Gwargis (Radulovic 69), Longman, Richards.

Subs not used: Keto (GK), Yapi.

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