PL2 report: Man City 0 Chelsea 0

Our development squad opened the new season with a point on the road at last term’s Premier League 2 runners-up on a drizzly evening in Manchester.

The Etihad Stadium played host to the campaign curtain-raiser as Joe Edwards took charge of our oldest development age group for the first time in a competitive game. It was a deserved point for the visitors, who grew stronger throughout the contest and enjoyed the bulk of the goalscoring opportunities but could not get past Daniel Grimshaw in the home goal.

Jacob Maddox’s chance almost immediately after the second-half restart was possibly the best for the Blues, while Grimshaw made a similarly important stop to deny Dujon Sterling later in the half as the sides shared the spoils.

Edwards started with five of those who lined up in the FA Youth Cup final between the two sides in April, while there was a Chelsea debut in defence for Ethan Ampadu, one of two 16-year-olds featuring for the visitors.

Ampadu, Reece James (pictured top) and Joseph Colley made up the back three with Jamie Cumming in goal, while Sterling and Juan Castillo continued in wing-back roles further up the field. In midfield, Ruben Sammut and Isaac Christie-Davies started as the deeper duo, with Callum Hudson-Odoi and Maddox supporting Harvey St Clair in attack.

16-year-old Ethan Ampadu on the ball during his Chelsea debut.

City had six of their Youth Cup final line-up on the field from the start, including second-leg goalscorer Lukas Nmecha who led the line up front. The Chelsea 18-yard-box saw the early action inside two minutes as Colley threw his body at the feet of Taylor Richards to block the forward’s shot before Benjamin Garre prodded the loose ball over the crossbar.

The hosts continued to enjoy the better of the opening period as Javairo Dilrosun’s cross was poked over at the back post by Richards, who also picked up the game’s first booking for a poor late challenge on Hudson-Odoi midway through the half.

Hudson-Odoi carried the biggest threat for the visitors and steered our first effort of the evening narrowly wide of the left upright after half hour as Edwards’s side grew stronger in the final 15 minutes of the half. Christie-Davies struck just off-target with the ball slightly behind his stride after a flowing move from left to right, while Maddox’s deflected shot spun just past the goalkeeper’s far post.

From the following corner, Grimshaw was almost punished for a critical error as he fumbled the high delivery back towards his own goal, with a defender on the line heading clear the danger at the last moment.

The lively Callum Hudson-Odoi tested keeper Grimshaw on a number of occasions but could not beat the City stopper.

Both sides fashioned presentable opportunities to open the scoring either side of the interval. Cumming kept his sheet clean with an impressive save to tip Nmecha’s close-range header beyond the post before Maddox raced clear straight from the restart but could not skip past the goalkeeper, who clawed the ball away.

Grimshaw was certainly the busier of the two keepers in the second period as the visitors controlled proceedings and created a steady stream of chances. He was agile in racing off his line to deny Sterling and then well-positioned to hold on to a fierce strike from the same player as the young Blues pushed to convert one point into three.

Edwards introduced Luke McCormick and Cole Dasilva from the bench and the latter took every opportunity to test Grimshaw in the home goal, firing over the bar from outside the box on two occasions. While quiet in possession, the hosts always had a threat with their quality in the final third and Colley was forced to make another crucial challenge to block from Garre before sub Tom Dele-Bashiru shot wide.

Down the other end, our Swedish defender headed over Hudson-Odoi’s right-sided corner while Grimshaw parried St Clair’s right-footed attempt down and Christie-Davies struck wide. City came stronger in the final 10 minutes but we defended the box bravely and kept Cumming’s goal well-protected en route to securing our first point of the new season.

 

Chelsea (3-4-3) Jamie Cumming; Reece James, Joseph Colley, Ethan Ampadu; Dujon Sterling, Ruben Sammut (c), Jacob Maddox (Luke McCormick 57), Juan Castillo (Cole Dasilva 64); Isaac Christie-Davies, Harvey St Clair (Martell Taylor-Crossdale 89), Callum Hudson-Odoi
Unused subs
Marcin Bulka, Miro Muheim

Manchester City Daniel Grimshaw, Demeaco Duhaney, Charlie Oliver, Ed Francis, Tyreke Wilson, Jacob Davenport, Javairo Dilrosun, Matt Smith, Taylor Richards (Tom Dele-Bashiru 61), Benjamin Garre (Rabbi Matondo 71), Lukas Nmecha (c)
Unused subs
Kjetil Haug, Joel Latibeaudiere, Lorenzo Gonzalez
Booked Richards, Smith

Referee Paul Marsden

HIGHLIGHTS: Manchester City (A) PL2