Chelsea U21 fight back, then see out a comfortable 4-1 win away to Southampton

Mike Hewitt

Dermot Drummy, back from his one-match touchline ban, made five changes to the under-21 squad from last week's debacle versus Spurs.  Jamal Blackman, third-choice at first team level, was back in between the posts, Lewis Baker replaced Josh McEachran to restore last year's customary Baker - Ruben Loftus-Cheek pivot, while the defense had a more traditional look with Alex Davey partnering Andreas Christensen.  The amazingly named Isak Ssewankambo got the start at right back, while one the less often seen Musondas (Lamisha) lined up at left wing of the 4-2-3-1.

Both halves started with the hosts in control, but Chelsea were well on top for the middle portions, during which time they established a lead that they wouldn't relinquish.  After a slow-paced start, the match sprang into life when Southampton opened the scoring from a free kick that Jamal Blackman misplayed a bit at his near post.  After the disappointment of last week, there was a bit of concern about Chelsea's ability and will to respond but that turned out to be unfounded.

With Jeremie Boga and Alex Kiwomya running the show, the equalizer came from an unlikely source, Alex Davey putting the requisite touch onto Lewis Baker's amazing (at always) delivery from the free kick.  Left foot or right foot, Baker's ability to go for either placement or power is a tremendous asset.  Halfway through the second half, he'd score one directly (Chelsea's third) from a similar spot - a clinical display of set piece excellence.

Subsitute Islam Feruz would put on the finishing touch, scoring Chelsea's fourth just a few minutes from time with an excellent long-range effort - a great goal for the striker who has been mired in a bit of a slump for a few months now - but it was Chelsea's second, the winning goal that was the pick of the bunch: a wonderful, textbook counterattack that can stand as a testament to the skill, class, and ability of the Chelsea boys.

The move began with the goalkeeper; Dermot Drummy's charges looking to play out from the back as usual.  Jamal Blackman even did the So'ton striker with a little backheel flick to create space.  As Aké (playing left back today) and Musonda worked the ball to Christensen, the lanky Dane's direct ball found and released Jeremie Boga, waiting at the halfway line.  Boga had been a threat whenever he managed to get on the ball - which, judging by Drummy's shouts was not nearly enough - and this time was no different.  The Saints decided to back off and Boga gleefully took the space.  At other times, the young Frechman would be accused to hanging on to the ball just a bit too long, but this time he didn't and found Alex Kiwomya speeding up the right channel.  Kiwomya could've gone from goal, but instead chose to stand the ball up to the far post.  His picturesque cross, perfectly flighted and measured, seemed to travel in slow motion and arrived at its destination at the same time as Isaiah Brown's 'fro.  The 16-year-old couldn't miss from there and Chelsea were ahead 2-1.  You simply couldn't draw that up any better.

Having fought back from a one-goal deficit in the space of six of minutes, the boys settled down and played composed, smart football the rest of the way.  While Southampton sometimes looked like they might pose some threat, mostly through left winger Omar Rowe, and even hit the post in the second half, truthfully, Blackman had very little to do.  Chelsea's backline wasn't always convincing - one rather slick team move wasted by Jack Sinclair springs to mind - and Ruben Loftus-Cheek was decidedly below par, but it was a well-deserved three points in the end.

The one sour note to the match is the injury picked up by Jeremie Boga following a tackle from behind by Harry Reed (one of several yellow cards on the day for Saints who did not shy away from the physical side of the game).  Later seen on crutches with a heavily taped ankle, here's hoping that it's not too serious.

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