Late leveller denies Under-23s at Chelsea
Chelsea 1-1 Spurs (Premier League 2)
Fri 23 November 2018, 21:18|Tottenham Hotspur
Victory slipped through our fingers as hosts Chelsea stole a late equaliser in the Premier League 2 on Friday night.
Our Under-23s had seemed on course for a well-earned victory in Aldershot after Jack Roles fired us ahead and goalkeeper Brandon Austin superbly saved Billy Gilmour's penalty mid-way through the second half, capping a hard-working performance from the whole team.
Chelsea were tiring but nobody picked up the run of substitute Charlie Brown as he latched onto a through ball and he slotted home to make it 1-1 in the 89th minute – a crushing blow for our troops. To the players' credit we kept pushing throughout stoppage time but the ball wouldn't quite fall for us and the points were shared.
We'd gone in ahead at half-time – and deservedly so. Kazaiah Sterling was purposeful in his running at centre-forward, occasionally forcing his way into the box, while some slick touches from Tashan Oakley-Boothe hugging the right touchline allowed us to transition smoothly from defence to attack. Paris Maghoma was also eye-catching in possession and after testing goalkeeper Jamie Cumming from distance, he was involved in the build-up to the opener on 26 minutes, tussling for the ball on the right before it was sent spinning out to Jaden Brown in space on the left flank. He burst infield, then laid the ball wide for Roles to curl beyond Cumming from the left angle.
The hosts won a number of set-pieces during the remainder of the first half but couldn't capitalise, although our right-back Tariq Hinds was forced to head off the line five minutes before the break from Juan Castillo's back-post header, which came about after Austin had brilliantly saved Tariq Lamptey's drive from inside the area.
Maghoma was looking to spring Sterling free with long passes from deep as the game went on and the pair pulled it off on the hour mark, but the striker had to get his shot away early as the Chelsea defenders closed in and Cumming was able to save comfortably.
Chelsea weren't carving out clear chances but when Brown got down to the byline on the left, defender Japhet Tanganga came sliding in to cover and was penalised for handball. Gilmour stepped up but Austin pushed his attempt from the spot away to his right with 65 minutes gone.
That save looked to have seen off the hosts’ challenge but in the 89th minute, Gallagher picked himself up from a couple of bouts of cramp to send Brown scurrying in behind with a through ball and the substitute duly helped himself to the equaliser.
Up until the last few minutes the key moment would have been Austin’s penalty save, which capped another authoritative performance from the keeper.
But ultimately it was Brown who had the final say as he snatched a point for the home side. Our defence was split open by Gallagher’s through ball and the Chelsea substitute made no mistake, beating Austin at his near post to make it 1-1.
For Wayne Burnett, our Under-23s Coach, there were some pleasing aspects to our night’s work, but he was left to rue the fact that we couldn’t maintain control of the game across the 90 minutes.
“At times we played very well,” he said. “We had some good passages of play, in the first 15 or 20 minutes we dominated the game, they got back into it in the latter part of the first half but we’re disappointed to concede so late on.
“We could have done better at times. If you look at the game, in passages we’ve played some really good stuff but we have to sustain that over a 90-minute period and I felt we didn’t do that. If we’d have done that we’d have probably taken the three points but in the end a draw was maybe a fair result.
“We have to learn to keep the ball better because if you do that, it limits their opportunities to score. We didn’t do that but we’ve come away to Chelsea and we’re disappointed with a draw.”
Chelsea 1-1 Spurs (Premier League 2)
Chelsea: Cumming, Lamptey, Grant (c), Nartey, Guehi, McEachran (Uwakwe 76), Gallagher, Gilmour, Redan (Anjorin 65), Taylor-Crossdale (Brown 61), Castillo. Substitutes (not used): Ziger, Colley.
Spurs: Austin (c), Hinds, Brown, Bowden (Duncan 75), Tanganga, Eyoma, Oakley-Boothe, Marsh, Sterling, Maghoma (Reynolds 87), Roles (Richards 82). Substitute (not used): Glover.
Goals: Chelsea - Brown 89; Spurs - Roles 26.
Yellow cards: Chelsea - Gallagher 86; Spurs - Bowden 48, Oakley-Boothe 49.
Referee: Alan Dale.
Venue: EBB Stadium, Aldershot.
Weather: Cloudy, six degrees.