Chelsea hit last-gasp leveller in Under-23 battle
Chelsea 2-2 Spurs (Premier League 2)
Fri 30 August 2019, 21:12|Tottenham Hotspur
Our Under-23s were seconds away from holding onto three hard-fought points at Chelsea, only to concede a 95th-minute equaliser as Friday night's London derby in the Premier League 2 ended in a 2-2 draw.
We'd surged into a two-goal lead in the first half at the EBB Stadium in Aldershot, Phoenix Patterson on target just 11 minutes into his first appearance of the season and Harvey White converting from the penalty spot after the lively Shilow Tracey was brought down in the box.
But Chelsea came roaring back in the second half and applied near-constant pressure. We seemed to weather the storm well for the most part but it was all too easy when Clinton Mola strolled through and slotted home for 2-1. Tracey then had a big chance to make the game safe against the run of play, denied by Blues goalkeeper Jamie Cumming, before Tariq Lamptey found space on the right side in the dying seconds and turned onto his left foot before drilling in to snatch a share of the spoils - a similar ending to when the two sides met on the same ground last season.
Our hunger to bounce back from last week's disappointing showing at home to Derby was evident as we dominated the first 20 minutes. Tracey and Patterson temporarily switched flanks in the early going and that quickly paid dividends as the former surged into the box from the right and cut back for the latter, who produced a crisp first-time finish across goalkeeper Cumming to give us an 11th-minute lead. Centre-forward Rodel Richards was subsequently denied by Cumming and Tracey - by then back on the left - somehow saw the ball stay out as he rose highest at the back post to get a slight touch on the resulting corner. But on 20 minutes it was 2-0 - and deservedly so. Tracey was tripped in the box by Lamptey and set-piece specialist White sent the keeper the wrong way from the resulting penalty.
The Blues began to press thereafter but some loose finishing meant Alfie Whiteman didn't have a save to make in the first half, with all of their clear efforts - including a couple of drives from Tino Anjorin and a six-yard header from Charlie Brown - sailing skywards.
Our centre-back duo of Brooklyn Lyons-Foster and TJ Eyoma - who by a strange coincidence found themselves teaming up at the home ground of their respective older brothers' club, with both Kodi Lyons-Foster and AJ Eyoma currently on the books at Aldershot Town - were needed more and more to repel the danger as Chelsea turned the screw but by and large we were standing up to them. Tariq Uwakwe was denied by a flying save from Whiteman after a defensive mistake but we found ourselves momentarily over-run and Mola was able to ghost past a handful of players before firing low into the net for 2-1 in the 71st minute. White then cleared off the line from Chelsea first-teamer Antonio Rudiger while Marc Guehi had two bites of the cherry but couldn't quite force the ball over the line from close range.
Substitute Armando Shashoua's movement got us playing forward again and he started the move that should have sealed it for us but after Richards played Tracey through in the left channel, Cumming raced off his line to narrow the angle and make the save. Four minutes had gone up on the board but as we ticked into 95, Lamptey ran into space on Chelsea's right, shifted onto his left foot and thrashed home to level.
Chelsea were looking to hunt us down in the second half but in the 90th minute, we had a big chance to settle the contest on the counter. Shashoua turned on the ball on half-way, released Richards and he laid it square for Tracey galloping into space in the left channel. One-on-one with the goalkeeper as he entered the box, albeit with defenders rapidly closing in, the chance was there to make it 3-1 against the run of play but goalkeeper Cumming read the situation early and came off his line to make the block. It remained 2-1 until Lamptey's late leveller.
Under-23s Coach Wayne Burnett said: "For the first 25 minutes I thought we were very good and dominated the game. The next 20 minutes became a bit more even and then the second half was really a one-sided game in a way, although saying that we had one or two decent chances to increase our lead, but we didn't perform as well as we did in the first half. We're really disappointed. On reflection, a draw was probably a fair result but when you're so close to winning with only 30 seconds to go it almost feels like a loss. The players will learn from that because they've worked very, very hard and they've given everything tonight, but it's just small details that we have to get better at. Even though they dominated the game in the second half, we've had two or three decent chances to increase our lead but we haven't done so and in games like that against teams like Chelsea who have got high-calibre players, you need to take your chances."
Chelsea 2-2 Spurs (Premier League 2)
Chelsea: Cumming, Lamptey, Rudiger, Guehi (c), Lawrence, Mola, Ballo, McEachran, Brown (Broja 81), Anjorin (Lewis 79), Uwakwe. Substitutes (not used): Ziger, Lavinier, Wakely.
Spurs: Whiteman, Okedina, Hinds, White, Eyoma (c), Lyons-Foster, Patterson (Shashoua 75), Maghoma (R Clarke 77), Richards, Oakley-Boothe (Dinzeyi 89), Tracey. Substitute (not used): De Bie.
Goals: Chelsea - Mola 71, Lamptey 90+5; Spurs - Patterson 11, White 20 (pen).
Referee: James Durkin.
Venue: EBB Stadium, Aldershot.
Weather: Clear sky, 19 degrees.