Kingsmeadow saw the return of its very own king this week in the form of Chelsea legend Petr Cech, and if you weren’t fortunate enough to catch the action from Monday night I’ll do my best in summarising it for you now (although I might not be able to do it much justice).
No matter the age group, Chelsea vs Spurs is always a heated display and the fixture between both sides on Monday reinforces that notion tenfold. Chelsea were going into the game with the chance to go top of the league while Spurs were sat on 14 points, in need of a win after only one in their prior four.
Spurs seize the first half
Despite Chelsea needing a win, they started the game on the back foot. Andy Myers’ boys went behind after just 3 minutes of football and it came from a misplaced Cech pass that subsequently resulted in the corner that lead to the goal. Not the start that Petr would’ve hoped for.
Things seemed to go from bad to worse for the young blues as Dane Scarlett, the in-form 16-year old, scored with a fine header after a wonderful cross from Harvey White. The attacking prowess that Chelsea often display didn’t come into fruition for the vast majority of the first half, as Spurs stayed compact and disciplined enough to withstand what Chelsea were throwing at them.
This caused for a tactical change from Myers which would prove to be the turning point in the derby. Around the half hour mark, the blues changed into their favoured 343 setup which meant the likes of Livramento could push forward and cause their usual havoc.
For the remainder of the first-half Chelsea saw more of the ball and found themselves breaking down Spurs and having some promising passages of play but it all comes a bit too late as Tottenham were saved by the whistle.
Chelsea find their groove
After what I can only assume was a half-time masterclass from Andy, Chelsea came out of the tunnel like a team possessed. Two changes saw Thierno Ballo and Dion Rankine off for Jude Soonsup-Bell and Myles Peart-Harris; with Nunn moving to Left wing back and Soonsup-Bell leading the line. Chelsea started the opening 10 minutes of the half as they finished the first with more positive and quicker passages of play, now finally utilising the abilities of Tino down the right flank.
Finally, after a long period of domination we get awarded a penalty after some brilliant play from George Nunn. He manages to somehow get in front of the Spurs defender in the 18-yard box which resulted in the defender barging Nunn over. Clear as day. The substitute Peart-Harris remains ice cold as he dispatches the spot kick, sending the keeper the wrong way. Now it was starting to look more like a Chelsea vs Spurs game.
With the momentum now with Chelsea, Livramento brings down a perfect pass from Lawrence with an equally good touch so he can drive past former Chelsea player Lavinier and pick out Marcel Lewis for the finish. The touch from Livramento was gorgeous; most players are having that bounce awkwardly off their hip or thigh but he adjusts with the outside of his left foot as he’s running to touch the ball just out in front of him so he doesn’t break his stride. People are right to be raving about him, it’s almost laughable how he terrorises team’s week in week out.
Not so much as 5 minutes after the equaliser a chance fell to the 16-year-old debutant Soonsup-Bell where the keeper has scuffed one into him on the edge of the box. He brings it down and looks to go round the keeper but the Spurs number 1 recovers well and manages to swipe the ball from Jude’s feet. Despite that chance going begging, they were coming thick and fast for Chelsea now and so it felt like only a matter of time before we nicked a third.
As the game entered its closing 15 minutes, it took a nasty turn as Tottenham player Alfie Devine put in a horror challenge on Danny Drinkwater. Drinkwater then proceeds to kick out at Devine after the challenge which isn’t something you want to see from one of our senior pro’s which subsequently results in a brawl between both outfits. The ref seems to let them have it out for five or so minutes before he finally regains some control to send off both Devine and Drinkwater. Myles Peart-Harris and Levi Colwill were all also booked as a result of their involvement in the incident.
Now with pride and bragging rights on the line, the game began to enter it’s conclusion. Two chances came Chelsea’s way in quick succession, the first being a free kick won on the edge of the box by Soonsup-Bell with some great pressing and quick passing. The chance leads to nothing however as Marcel Lewis fires over. Henry Lawrence was next to come close with a cannon of a strike from 25 yards out and it looked in all the way but somehow it hits the side netting. Felt almost reminiscent of the (almost) goal from Sterling against Italy back in 2014.
Closing in on the 90th minute and the dev squad were still pushing for that winner to take them top. Finally, in the 88th Myles Peart-Harris converts a marcel Lewis cut-back to complete an astounding comeback. To overcome a two-goal deficit against any team at this level is something but to do it in a London derby is unheard of; one for the ages.
Despite the six minutes added time, Peart-Harris’ second and Chelsea’s third was enough to secure the win that puts them top of the PL2. The tactical changes saw the game turn on its head as Spurs couldn’t deal with Chelsea had going forward when they play that 3-4-3. A great advert for development football and a huge win for Andy and the Blues.
Danny that was dire
An amazing game is slightly tarnished by some of the on-field antics which is a shame. The tackle from Devine was shocking and a deserved red and Danny Drinkwater was well within his rights to be upset but surely as a seasoned professional and Premier League winner you know better than to kick out at youth players? Danny wasn’t having a particularly bad game which makes it even more of a shame. I feel for Danny as he obviously just wants to be back playing and the tackle was horrible but you have to wonder at one point is it too much that he only plays development football and takes up a huge sum on the wage bill? Just some food for thought.
Other than that it was a complete performance where anybody could be singled out for playing well. After the tactical change at around the half hour mark Chelsea dominated and each player started to come into their own. The midfield worked tirelessly through Bate and Drinkwater to win back possession and create in the second half and the defence remained impenetrable thanks to the likes of Simeu, Colwill and Lawrence. Nunn also came into the game on the left flank, a position he was tested in when Chelsea played Brentford in a recent friendly. After his second-half performance it wouldn’t surprise me if we saw him play there more often.
Valentino Livramento deserves a special mention as I am continually finding myself more and more impressed with him each time I watch him. His athleticism is second to none and both his defensive and attacking output is pretty staggering. He works hard for the full 90, getting assists but also doing all the dirty work down the right flank. He’s starting to look like a top-class modern-day full-back and he can only get better; a scary talent.
Myles Peart-Harris, the match winner, bagging a brace as a substitute can’t go unmentioned. The 18-year old was everywhere when he came on as he’d obviously decided to take it upon himself to grab the game by the scruff of the neck. Dispatching the pen and the sweeping home the winner means he’ll get the plaudits tonight, and rightly so. Marcel Lewis was also amongst the especially notable performances as he got a goal and an assist to help reignite the comeback.
A small mention to the 16-year old debutant Jude who more than held his own when coming on at half-time. Managed to compete up front for the whole 45, remaining composed and decisive in the final third. Well in Jude!
I genuinely feel for those of you that missed this game, it literally had everything even from a neutral perspective. Five goals, 10 cards (8 yellow and 2 red) and some rousing football played by both teams made for a proper game of youth football. With us now sitting top of the league in the PL2 you can begin to see why Chelsea’s academy is being hailed as the best around.
Three points in the bag and back to it at Kingsmeadow on Friday where we face 6th place Manchester United who will be looking to stop Chelsea increasing their lead at the top.