Chelsea U21s 0-0 Spurs U21s
Report from Wheatsheaf Park
06 April 2015|Tottenham Hotspur
An incredible double save from Luke McGee in stoppage time ensured honours ended even against Chelsea in the Barclays Under-21 Premier League on Monday afternoon.
The goalkeeper pulled off a fine stop to keep out Isaiah Brown’s header and then saved with his legs to deny Blues substitute Tammy Abraham with 93 minutes on the watch at Staines Town’s Wheatsheaf Park.
Luke Amos then intervened with a crucial goal-line clearance from the resulting corner, preserving a hard-earned point for Ugo Ehiogu’s side as the match ended goalless.
With several players out on loan and our Under-18s squad out in Switzerland at the Bellinzona Tournament, Ugo was forced to shuffle his pack.
Cameron Carter-Vickers jetted in, having played in a 1-0 win over Russian side Lokomotiv Moscow at that tournament on Saturday afternoon, and didn’t put a foot wrong at centre-half, with Luke Amos and substitute Kyle Walker-Peters also impressing after making the journey back across the continent.
It was Chelsea who started brightest in the sunshine, however, and they had the first effort on goal with five minutes gone, Charlie Colkett arrowing a free-kick over the bar after Alex McQueen impeded Dominic Solanke right on the edge of the box.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek then saw an angled shot deflected behind, while Will Miller found space centrally at the other end but scuffed wastefully wide of the near post from 20 yards.
DeAndre Yedlin and Cristian Ceballos caused problems for Chelsea with well-weighted crosses from both sides within the space of 60 seconds as we started to find our feet in the contest, before we made inroads behind Chelsea’s back four for the first time in the 14th minute.
Yedlin nodded a bouncing ball down to Miller who slipped it through to Daniel Akindayini, but the striker’s shot-on-the-turn had the sting taken out of it when it struck Ola Aina and goalkeeper Mitchell Beeney was able to keep it out.
The Blues immediately mounted an attack of their own with Solanke’s rising shot coaxing a stop from McGee, while Brown’s 20-yard curler was just off target four minutes later.
Colkett then launched himself at Reece Mitchell’s left-wing cross, heading wide of the near post, before we regained the momentum, Harry Winks hooking the ball in to Miller who brought it under control as he turned in the box – only for Jay Dasilva to dispossess him and bring it clear.
We nearly broke the deadlock on 33 minutes but, after Beeney saved Akindayini’s angled attempt, Ola Aina cleared Yedlin’s looping effort with the goal gaping.
Ceballos fizzed a long-range drive just off target with 38 minutes gone, but McGee was called upon twice as the first half drew to a close – first fielding a rising shot from Brown and then making himself big to thwart substitute Jeremie Boga after he was played in on goal.
We exploded out of the blocks after the break, going straight on the attack with Kenny McEvoy bursting down the right and the ball finding its way out to Ceballos, whose shot hit the grounded Miller.
That attacking intent continued for much of the half, with the visitors playing further up the pitch and forcing Chelsea into making mistakes.
Amos, who marked his first start for the Under-21s with an energetic display, drilled wide before the hard-working Winks picked out Ceballos on the edge of the box – the attacker’s shot squirming past Beeney and rolling against the base of the post with 52 minutes gone.
Akindayini was again thwarted by Beeney while another long-range effort from Ceballos zipped marginally beyond the upright as we continued on the front foot, although McGee had to stay alert to keep out a fierce shot from Mitchell as he cut in from Chelsea’s left.
Solanke rifled over the top on 74 minutes after Aina floated a ball forwards and it was headed on by Brown, while the roles were reversed two minutes later as this time Solanke whipped the ball in quickly from the right and Brown powered wide of the near post on the volley.
With the clock ticking down, the lively Walker-Peters was fouled as he broke forward but McQueen continued the attack on the overlap – only to be denied by a covering challenge in the box.
McEvoy shot wide after a fast break as we sought a late winner, but it was Chelsea who went closest to scooping the points three minutes into added time.
Fankaty Dabo’s cross from the right was met by a firm header by Brown in the box, with McGee making a superb save to his right. The ball fell to Abraham, whose shot from the left angle was blocked by the keeper’s legs at the expense of a corner.
The drama wasn’t over, though, as the flag kick was swung in, with Amos making an instinctive goal-line clearance to keep out Colkett’s header – thus keeping our clean sheet intact.
Ugo Ehiogu said
“Performance-wise, I thought we were very good and additionally I felt we were excellent in central midfield,” he said.
“Luke Amos was outstanding for someone making his full Under-21s debut. Under pressure, he was a vital cog in midfield and a real presence along with Harry Winks.
“Cameron Carter-Vickers at the back has set his standard and we know how good he can be. I thought he was much better stepping out with the ball today, more vocal as well – all the things we’ve asked for.
“At the end everyone was saluting Luke McGee for his double save as well. That’s something that is part of the game and we’ve got to be mindful of. On reflection we could have won the game but it would have been devastating to have lost it right at the last moment.”
Reflecting on the contest as a whole, Ugo added: “We didn’t take our chances and that’s the difference the higher up we go.
“That said, I was really pleased with a lot of aspects of the performance and, on reflection, I think progress has been made.”
Chelsea U21s: Beeney, Dabo, Aina, Clarke-Salter, Dasilva, Colkett, Brown, Houghton (c), Solanke (Abraham 82), Loftus-Cheek (Boga 37), Mitchell (Musonda 67). Substitutes (not used): Palmer, Collins (GK).
Spurs U21s: McGee, Yedlin, McQueen, Amos, Lesniak, Carter-Vickers (c), McEvoy, Winks, Akindayini, Ceballos (Walker-Peters 69), Miller. Substitutes (not used): Loft, Ross, Miles (GK).