Both Kazaiah Sterling and Ryan Loft were denied by the home side’s stopper as we sought to build on the 1-0 first half lead given to us by the latter’s penalty.
And we were made to pay for those spurned opportunities as Chelsea struck twice in the last half an hour to claim the points at their Cobham training centre.
Under-18s Coach Kieran McKenna indicated beforehand that a number of Under-16s players could feature and, true to his word, we fielded a younger than usual side against our London rivals. The centre-half partnership of Japhet Tanganga and Jaden Brown stood up well to the challenge at the higher level with Dylan Duncan working hard in the number 10 role.
There was something of a stop-start nature to the first half with neither side able to enjoy a sustained period of possession.
Marcus Edwards cut in from the right and saw an early shot deflected behind for a corner, while Chelsea’s Hubert Adamczyk found the side netting from the left side of the box on 11 minutes.
Sterling fired over the bar on the half-volley after Chris Paul’s right-sided cross was knocked down to him just inside the area, while Tanganga stayed strong at the back to see Cole Dasilva’s effort behind. From the resulting corner, goalkeeper Tom Glover smothered the ball in the six-yard box to bring a brief period of danger to an end.
Our opening goal came four minutes after the half-hour mark after Sterling burst into the box and was brought down from behind by his namesake in the Blues’ side, Dujon Sterling, with the referee awarding a penalty. The Chelsea man came off worse in the challenge and was forced off injured, but Loft kept his cool to fire us ahead from 12 yards.
Blues skipper Kyle Scott floated a free-kick over the bar in first half stoppage time, while we were denied a second goal eight minutes after the restart when Sterling seized on a wayward pass from Chelsea left-back Ali Suljic and raced through one-on-one with Collins – only for the keeper to make a block.
The Blues went close themselves on the hour mark when substitute Jeremie Boga sent Adamczyk running down the left, but Ruben Sammut blasted over the top from his cut-back.
Two minutes later, Sterling read the play well and won the ball in midfield before breaking forward and sending Loft through with just Collins to beat, but again the keeper was able to get himself in the way of the eventual shot and our advantage remained a slender one.
Chelsea were patient in their attacking play and eventually got themselves back on level terms on 67 minutes when Boga curled the ball around the wall and inside the near post from a 22-yard free-kick.
A second set-piece from the same player within 60 seconds, slightly further out this time, produced a flying save from Glover, with the hosts going on to enjoy a period in the ascendancy.
Glover kept out centre-forward Ike Ugbo’s close-range header from Adamczyk’s corner, Tanganga blocked a shot from the Chelsea number nine at the expense of a corner, substitute Mason Mount lashed over the bar and Ugbo fired straight at Glover as we found ourselves under sustained pressure.
The hosts eventually found a breakthrough on 83 minutes when Ugbo raced into the box from the left and finished low into the net – and they might have put the result beyond doubt four minutes later when first Mount’s curler forced Glover to dive to his right to palm the ball behind and then Josh Grant’s header in the six-yard box from the resulting corner went wide.
We fashioned one last break forward in the third minute of stoppage time to try to salvage something from what, on the whole, had been an impressive outing. Duncan took the ball under control and surged through the middle before squaring for substitute Armani Daly, but the wide man’s low drive from the right side of the box was kept out by Collins.
Spurs: Glover, Paul, Muscatt, Owens, Tanganga, Brown, Edwards (Roles 78), Hayford (Marsh 43), Loft (Daly 65), Duncan, Sterling. Substitute (not used): McDermott (GK).