This year’s EFL Trophy adventure (and an 11-match unbeaten run) for the Chelsea U21s has come to a crashing halt in last night’s 4-0 away defeat against third division Cheltenham Town FC. While the scoreline isn’t quite an accurate reflection of the vast majority of the game, with three of the four goals coming in the last five minutes, Chelsea’s run thus ends at the Round of 16 stage, just like last year. Incidentally, the other two remaining Academy sides, Everton and Manchester United, also conceded four-spots and were eliminated.
Chelsea fielded a very young side for this game, handing out full DevSquad debuts to Donnell McNeilly and Louis Flower. Two 16-year-olds (Michael Golding, Harrison McMahon) also saw extended minutes as many of those involved in the friendly against Aston Villa in Dubai were either not in the team (such as Omari Hutchinson, Mason Burstow, Dion Rankine, Charlie Webster, or Bash Humphreys) or were playing on jetlagged legs (such as Cesare Casadei, Josh Brooking, and Malik Mothersille). Most who played are eligible for the FA Youth Cup still.
And the young Blues fell behind early, conceding inside of five minutes after making mess of a set piece — former Chelsea trainee Charlie Brown taking advantage — but then made a solid account of themselves, going toe-to-toe with senior third division opposition and perhaps getting a bit unlucky in not finding the needed final ball or requisite finish at the other end. The home side made sure of their win in the final five minutes, scoring not once, not twice, but three times, including Brown grabbing a second for himself, to make the scoreline look far worse than it deserved to be.
So, a slightly ignominious end but another good run in the toughest competition for the U21s this season. Onwards and upwards!