Without much knowledge of the opponent and their players, the assumption that this would be a complete turnover was not the case. A well fought battle between two well matched sides, both operating in 3 at the back systems. The first match under Mark Robinson showed sprinkles of promise, with an attack heavy approach and intense pressing after losing the ball. However, it is hard to grasp a coaches style from one game in a pre season friendly.
The first half started with Chelsea pinging the ball around and Gilmour controlling from his deep lying playmaker role in the Chelsea 3-4-2-1 system. The 2nd minute saw Dion Rankine pick up the ball, glide past one man and take on another down the wing before blasting it low into the goal, catching the opposition goalie out and making the score 1-0. Dion Rankine looked a constant threat and was being fed through balls consistently for the first quarter of an hour. More Chelsea domination followed and culminated in Tino Anjorin shielding the ball before using the studs of his boot to turn and leave two men in the dust. He got forced out wide and then unleashes a powerful shot from a few yards outside the box that went whiskers wide. The first 20-25 minutes was all Chelsea and it honestly looked like with a few more shots, it could be a battering. Then out of nowhere, a good throw leads to a through ball that caught Josh Brooking out and Tyrone Mondi blasts it past Ted Curd into the roof of the net making it 1-1. Around the 35th min, Tino Anjorin set off on an outrageous run, showcasing his dribbling and physical stature. Chelsea lost their grip towards the end of the half and couldn’t regain the control they had in the first 20 minutes.
The second half came with 11 substitutions, going into the half with Beach, Abu, Gilchrist, Tauriainen, Webster, Simons, Elliott, Andersson, Hutchinson, Castledine, Burstow. Interestingly, Casteldine who is usually utilised in the midfield or attacking midfield was placed on the left of a back 3. Diego Luna stood out for Real Monarchs and was causing a lot of problems. He had a free kick that looked like it was going in but just went wide. A penalty conceded by Webster for a high foot seemed a bit harsh but Luna stepped up and Beach made a fantastic save and it went out for a corner. The 64th minute saw Ben Elliot pick up the ball from a fantastic Charlie Webster pass and Elliot went around countless players including the goalie before placing it in the goal. At 2-1 the game looked to be in favour of the Blues but mere minutes later a penalty was given away by seemingly both Beach and Simons. This time the penalty was converted by Pedro Fonseca and now the game was level again. Omari Hutchinson the most lively player for Chelsea in the second half by a mile. Countless darting runs inside from the wing and extremely direct. He certainly didn’t need much time to get used to his teammates as he looked very promising. In the deaths of the game Tauriainen missed a glorious chance and the game went to penalties.
Real Monarchs ended up winning the shootout 5-4 with Elliot being the lone Chelsea player to miss.
The first half had lots of promising moments. The midfield was being utilised effectively and Gilmour and Anjorin stood out. They were receiving the ball and spraying it out wide to players like Rankine who know how to exploit the spaces in behind. I thought the intesnity of the pressing for the first pre season game was very impressive and showed a new determination from the players to impress the new gaffer. The 2 goals we conceded were not too worrying and they were goals from nothing. The only time I thought we looked truly vulnerable was a few counter attacks in the first half but they were squashed almost immediately due to the pressure from the players tracking back. Chelsea U21 get back in action in just around 48 hours against Wolves and it is yet to be known whether they will stick with the two different XI’s or try something new. Mark Robinson has proved in just 90 minutes he is not afraid to experiment, case in point Castledine at LCB.
Written by Frankie