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Chelsea FC Reserves 3 Sunderland Reserves 2

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The national reserve champions began the new campaign with an entertaining win, coming back from a goal down with goals from Adam Phillip and Patrick Van Aanholt before half-time but conceding an equaliser in the second half. Milan Lalkovic won the match late on.

The Blues second string looked good going forward but there is room for improvement at the back.

Team news

The side contained many players who were at the core of the team last season but Rhys Taylor who was on loan last campaign was in goal. Patrick van Aanholt was the one member of the first team squad involved. Tomas Kalas played his first game since reaching the European Under 19 Championship final with Czech Republic and Conor Clifford his first match since sitting on the bench for the full Republic of Ireland team.


It was an uneventful start to what proved to be an entertaining game held at the training ground at Cobham. Sunderland got bodies in the way to block from Kaby early on but there was no real threat on either goal until a testing Sunderland cross was cleared over his own bar by Van Aanholt, who took a knock in the process. Whipped-in balls from the visitors would continue to pose problems.

Just past the quarter of an hour, Lalkovic played the ball quickly to Phillip but the closely marked centre-forward ran out of room before he could find the chance to shoot.

Rhys Taylor was quickly off his line to snuff out danger on 20 minutes when former Chelsea youth player Billy Knott threaded a ball into the area. Sunderland were asking as many questions of Chelsea as we were of them.

The visitors won a corner on 26 minutes which was looped towards goal by a header. Taylor did well to tip it over. The Wales Under 21 keeper then claimed the follow-up corner.

Taylor was powerless however to prevent the game's opener a minute later as Chelsea were caught open at the back. Jordan Cook popped up on the opposite wing to normal and crossed. Centre-forward Oumare Tounkara was able to head in from almost under the crossbar.

The equaliser came on 34 minutes and Billy Clifford, today playing in a wide attacking position, was the architect. He exchanged passes with Jacob Mellis and then chipped a delicate ball over the defence for Adam Phillip to control and finish. Last season's second top scorer at this level was underway.

Clifford wasn't far away from curling in a goal of his own soon after, Sunderland having just had a penalty appeal turned down.

Chelsea's second goal arrived before the break and it was another quality effort. Van Aanholt sprinted down the left and was found by Kaby who had previously shown good ability to spread the play. The Dutch left-back belted his shot across the keeper and into the far bottom corner. Before half-time, Phillip shot over from close range.


Chelsea were only inches away from scoring within a minute of the restart when Lalkovic headed over after Billy Clifford had battled past the full-back and crossed deep.

Five minute later John Egan got up for Sunderland at the far post but headed a Knott corner wide and Chelsea came back at them again, Billy Clifford giving Todd Kane the chance to pick out Kaby. The Portuguese midfielder was denied by the fast reactions of the keeper, Trevor Carson.

Taylor then had to save from Tounkara to keep his side ahead. It was a lively opening to the second half. Van Aanholt very nearly caught Carson out with a shot from distance but having not taken chances, Chelsea allowed Sunderland to pull the scores level. Again the ball was delivered from out wide, again the defending wasn't the best, and RoarieDeacon who had only just come on tapped in.

For a spell Sunderland were in the ascendant. Taylor made a double save, denying 's follow-up attempt and Carl Magnay made an excellent blocking tackle as 9 was pulling the trigger.

Chelsea recovered composure and on 77 minutes took the lead. From his own half, Mellis spotted the chance to give Lalkovic a chase and played the ball over the top. The Slovakian's pace was always going to be enough to keep him ahead of his chasers and he finished it off with a right-foot shot.

The Blues had been the better side for a while but there was an escape when James Armstrong shot wide after Kalas hadn't initially cut out a high ball. The visitors exerted further pressure but Chelsea held on.

The manager

'I was very pleased to get a winning start,' said Dermot Drummy. 'I believe they are still getting their fitness up and we let Sunderland play a little too much for my liking, but the application was there and to get a goal late on when Sunderland had the edge for a period was great for our mentality.

'We need to work more on our game off the ball and we will do that but overall we are pleased with the goals we scored but we were a bit sloppy with the goals we let in.

'The moves for the goals were great. We do a lot of technical work and you try to get the boys to move the ball like the first team and see things on the pitch and be inventive, but they mustn't forget it isn't just about playing that type of football, they must also be hard to beat.'

Chelsea (4-3-3): Rhys Taylor; Todd Kane, Tomas Kalas, Carl Magnay, Patrick van Aanholt ©; Jacob Mellis (Rohan Ince 90+2), Conor Clifford, Kaby (George Saville 81); Billy Clifford (Marko Mitrovic 72), Adam Phillip, Milan Lalkovic.

Unused subs Jamal Blackman, Aziz Deen-Conteh.

Sunderland (4-1-4-1): Trevor Carson; Louis Laing, John Egan, Matthew Kilgallon, Michael Liddle; Adam Reed; Jordan Cook, James Armstrong, Billy Knott (RoarieDeacon 60); James McClean (Adam Mitchell 60), Oumare Tounkara.

Unused subs Jordan Pickford, Liam Bagnall, Jordan Laidler.

Source: Chelsea FC

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Technical, inventive play. Exactly what we need to be drilling into the youth. PvA needs to be better defensively. I think the issue with him is that he knows he's better than turning out for the reserves and needs either a loan spell somewhere or a run in the first team. His confidence is there for all to see. Billy is crying out for induction into the senior side too IMO.

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