Under-23s denied by late Chelsea strike
Spurs 0-1 Chelsea (Premier League 2)
Mon 06 January 2020, 21:02|Tottenham Hotspur
Chelsea bagged an 82nd-minute winner against the run of play as our Under-23s slipped to a 1-0 defeat in their opening game of 2020 on Monday evening.
We'd seemed on course to take at least a point after a hard-working display all over the pitch against a visiting side unbeaten all season in the Premier League 2, but a momentary lapse in concentration allowed Armando Broja to steal in down the right channel and lash high past Brandon Austin at the near post to give his side the victory.
Neither side really took the game by the scruff of the neck in a first half of few chances at Stevenage's Lamex Stadium. Striker Rodel Richards went to ground under an early challenge just inside the box but referee Adrian Quelch waved play on, while Tashan Oakley-Boothe whistled a shot fractionally wide from 18 yards as we started well. Tariq Uwakwe did likewise at the other end after coming in off the left wing but Chelsea began to work their way into the contest and centre-half Brooklyn Lyons-Foster had to clear off the line amid a goalmouth scramble when Jack Wakely nodded into the danger zone at the back post following a corner.
Premier League 2 debutant Elliot Thorpe could count himself unfortunate to be penalised for consecutive challenges just outside our box as half-time approached but both resulting set-pieces - one from Uwakwe, the other from George McEachran - were blocked by our defensive wall, while Shilow Tracey and Richards were just off-target for us either side of half-time.
Keeper Austin was authoritative whenever the Blues managed to get crosses into our area while Jubril Okedina impressed at right-back in the second period, setting up both Oakley-Boothe and substitute Phoenix Patterson for shots that flew narrowly wide while producing an excellent defensive header from a dangerous Chelsea corner. Those missed opportunities came back to haunt us as, with eight minutes remaining, Broja burst in behind and blasted into the roof of the net from a tight angle inside the box, consigning us to a harsh defeat.
You always sensed the game would be decided by a solitary goal and so it proved, Broja bursting in and finishing emphatically inside the near post to win the game for Chelsea in the 82nd minute.
Under-23s Coach Wayne Burnett wasn't hiding his disappointment after the game: "It was a game of very few chances, both teams if we're being honest lacked a little bit of quality in the final third, I thought we had the slightly better chances or were in the better positions but didn't really capitalise, I thought only one goal would win it and I'm really disappointed that we haven't at least come away with a draw - I think a draw would have been a fair result," he said. "There were some positives to take from it in terms of performances but we've come away without scoring and having conceded. At times we played well, created, dominated the ball at times but there were limited chances for both teams, we haven't defended well enough on that action (where Broja got in behind) and we've conceded so we're very, very disappointed."
Spurs 0-1 Chelsea (Premier League 2)
Spurs: Austin, Okedina (R Clarke 89), Hinds, Thorpe (Patterson 70), Eyoma (c), Lyons-Foster, Markanday, Oakley-Boothe, Richards, Shashoua, Tracey. Substitutes (not used): Oluwayemi, Dinzeyi, Pochettino.
Chelsea: Cumming, Lawrence, Wakely, Guehi (c), Maatsen, Mola, Broja, McEachran, Brown (Simons 90+2), Ballo (Russell 46), Uwakwe (Bate 80). Substitutes (not used): Ziger, Simeu.
Goal: Chelsea - Broja 82.
Yellow cards: Spurs - Thorpe 11, Austin 62, Oakley-Boothe 69; Chelsea - Russell 56.
Referee: Adrian Quelch.
Venue: Lamex Stadium, Stevenage.
Weather: Partly cloudy, mild, seven degrees.