Under-23s come up short after Chelsea turnaround
Chelsea 3-2 Spurs (Premier League 2)
Mon 14 December 2020, 21:09|Tottenham Hotspur
Chelsea turned Monday night's Under-23 clash around in the second half to escape with three points from a fiery London derby at Kingsmeadow.
We'd taken a well-deserved two-goal lead in at the break as Jubril Okedina's early opener was added to by Dane Scarlett, who carried over his goalscoring prowess from our Under-18s by heading in Harvey White's superb cross on his first appearance at this level.
But Chelsea bounced back with two goals in three minutes just after the hour mark through half-time substitute Myles Peart-Harris' penalty and a Marcel Lewis strike before both sides were reduced to 10 men, Alfie Devine and the hosts' England international Danny Drinkwater seeing red after a clash by the touchline that resulted in a large-scale melee, following which three more Chelsea players and Kion Etete were booked.
That incident, which took a few moments to sort out, disrupted any rhythm to the game and it was Peart-Harris who swept home the decisive goal two minutes from time, handing Chelsea a 3-2 win.
The Blues lined up with their technical and performance director, the 38-year-old veteran Petr Cech, in goal, and it was after he conceded a corner that we took a third-minute lead, the ball worked eventually to Brooklyn Lyons-Foster on the edge of the area who headed it forward for captain Okedina to ram home from inside the area.
We were pressing Chelsea all over the pitch and deservedly doubled our lead on 17 minutes when midfielder White sent over a superb cross-field delivery from deep and 16-year-old Scarlett - in for his first Premier League 2 appearance in the one change made by Under-23s Coach Wayne Burnett from last week's win at Blackburn - sent an inch-perfect header flying into the top corner.
Brandon Austin was practically a bystander at the other end as we kept Chelsea at arm's length throughout the first half, but the hosts made a double substitution and switched formation at the break which prevented us from controlling the play after the restart, Dynel Simeu putting a back-post header just over the bar before a penalty gave them a chance to pull a goal back. Okedina was penalised after initially losing out to George Nunn when competing for a loose ball before tackling him back as he entered the area, referee Sunny Gill pointing to the spot and Peart-Harris converting for 2-1 in the 61st minute. Two minutes later, Valentino Livramento got away from our ex-Chelsea full-back Marcel Lavinier - playing against his former club for the first time - and slid the ball across for Lewis to equalise.
Austin got himself out of jail after scuffing a clearance straight to Jude Soonsup-Bell, diving at the substitute's feet to reclaim the ball, before a flare-up sparked by Devine and Drinkwater's clash saw both midfielders dismissed and a number of other players booked with a quarter-of-an-hour left. That disrupted both teams, but it was Chelsea who threatened the most with Lewis and Henry Lawrence firing over from distance before Lewis somehow squirmed away from a couple of challenges down Chelsea's right flank and squared for Peart-Harris to find the net from amid a congested 18-yard box. White's free-kick was blocked by the wall in stoppage time, while Peart-Harris miscued his back-post shot as he sought a hat-trick at the other end.
'We didn't sense the change of momentum'
Under-23s Coach Wayne Burnett said: "As good as we were in the first half and deservedly went 2-0 in front, we were at the complete opposite end of the spectrum in the second half and didn't sense the change of momentum, didn't sense the way in which the game changed and lacked a little bit of maturity in our play. It's disappointing that the game has ended the way it has with the limited amount of shots that they've had, but saying that, if you don't defend well enough then you're going to concede goals and that's what has happened."
Chelsea 3-2 Spurs (Premier League 2)
Chelsea: Cech, Livramento, Simeu (c), Colwill, Lawrence, Drinkwater, Rankine (Soonsup-Bell 46), Bate, Nunn, Ballo (Peart-Harris 46), Lewis. Substitutes (not used): Bergstrom, McClelland, Elimby-Ekwah.
Spurs: Austin, Okedina (c), Lavinier (Pochettino 89), Marsh (Thorpe 78), Lyons-Foster, Omole, Scarlett (Mundle 86), White, Etete, Devine, Clarke. Substitutes (not used): Kurylowicz, Muir.
Goals: Chelsea - Peart-Harris 61 (pen), 88, Lewis 63; Spurs - Okedina 3, Scarlett 17.
Yellow cards: Chelsea - Ballo 24, Bate 55, Livramento 73, Simeu 77, Peart-Harris 78, Colwill 78; Spurs - Etete 77.
Red cards: Chelsea - Drinkwater 77; Spurs - Devine 76.
Referee: Sunny Gill.
Weather: Rain, gentle breeze, 10 degrees.