As much as the Chelsea Academy has continued to crank out top prospect after top prospect, results for our youth teams have suffered a bit in the last couple years, including a relegation fight last season for the Development Squad (U23) side in the Premier League 2 (PL2). While obviously the primary aim of the Academy is to develop players, part of the curriculum at Cobham is a winning mentality. A relegation fight, with survival ensured only on the final day, is not a desired experience.
Over the summer, Chelsea appointed Wimbledon youth program architect Mark Robinson as the new Development Squad head coach, and he’s made a most excellent start to the PL2 season (now an under-21 rather than under-23 competition, officially) with a 7-1 triumph against Wolves at Aggborough Stadium on Monday.
Chelsea: Beach, Rankine, Gilchrist, Mbuyamba, Humphreys (c), Simons, Hutchinson, Webster, Burstow, Vale, Hall.— Chelsea Youth (@chelseayouth) August 8, 2022
Subs: Elliott, Sharman-Lowe, Castledine, Haigh, Wareham. pic.twitter.com/XtXSCu7Lfw
Certainly helped by the availability of the best talents in the Academy, some of whom may be heading out on loan in the next few weeks yet, the Blues scored early and often and kept scoring all the way through to the end. Captain Harvey Vale had two inside of the first fifteen minutes (capitalizing on giveaways), with right back Dion Rankine and forward Jayden Wareham also grabbing a brace each, the latter in the span of five minutes as time wound down after the home side got themselves a consolation goal to make it 5-1. Defender Alfie Gilchrist was also on the scoresheet following an excellent free kick routine.
Lewis Hall, Mason Burstow, Omari Hutchinson, Charlier Webster, Xavier Simons, Xavier Mbuyamba, and Bashir Humphreys all started as well, while new signing Eddie Beach kept goal.
Seven goals to kick-off our PL2 season!— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) August 8, 2022
All the goals against Wolves tonight... pic.twitter.com/rScrBo9CYN
Chelsea posted brief highlights on social media, but Wolves have the full game up on their YouTube channel, since they were cool enough to stream it. Here are direct links to the Chelsea goals: Vale 7’, Vale 13’, Rankine 45+1’, Rankine 57’, Gilchrist 73’, Wareham 82’, Wareham 86’. Rankine’s second goal is perhaps the pick of the bunch, a lovely flowing move down the right flank, switched over to the left, with Hutchinson providing the pinpoint accurate final ball.
Chelsea’s next game is against friendly neighbors Fulham, who ran away with the PL2 second division last season to earn promotion, just as their senior side did from the Championship.