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Chelsea Youth 3 Crystal Palace Youth 1

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Dermot Drummy's youth side completed an emphatic 3-1 win over visiting Crystal Palace today, courtesy of goals from his defensive back line. Captain Jack Saville put the Blues ahead before left-back Jordan Tabor (pictured) finished off the Chelsea score-line with two fantastic freekicks, all under the vigilant gaze of Guus Hiddink, who watched from the sidelines.

The team was dramatically different from the one which last lined-up against Liverpool in the FA Youth Cup, with several Under 16s coming into the fold.

The game started with a flurry of blue, as Chelsea proved their intent to the visitors, but despite controlling possession, chances came few and far between.

Milan Lalkovic was proving troublesome down the left and consistently sent dangerous balls into the Palace box, but unfortunately the crosses always seemed inches out of Adam Phillip's reach.

With half-an-hour gone, Lalkovic, Tabor and Sala had all tested the Palace keeper while Saville commanded his back line comfortably, denying Palace any real chances on Aldi Haxhia's goal.

Chelsea's best chance of the first 35 minutes came when Tabor found himself in space 25 yards out, before taking his time to launch a shot inches over the bar.

With five minutes of the half left to play, Jacopo Sala sent a shot bouncing off a Palace hand inside their box, but the referee ignored the appeals for handball, denying the Blues a chance to take the lead.

It didn't matter though, because as the first half drew to a close Aliu Djalo won a freekick from 25 yards out. Tabor stepped up to send the ball dipping toward the far corner before Saville expertly chested the freekick down and tapped in from close range, 1-0 to Chelsea.

Drummy changed Josh McEachran for Marko Mitrovic during the break, placing Mitrovic in the centre as the second half began.

Within four minutes of the restart Chelsea were two up after Sala won a freekick 20 yards out from goal before Tabor sent a curling left-footed shot into the top right with expert precision, leaving the Palace keeper powerless.

With the hour mark passed, Haxhia had prevented two direct freekicks on his goal, one from 25 yards out, which bounced awkwardly along the floor before the Chelsea keeper smothered the ball.

Chelsea were producing the more threatening football, and with nearly 70 minutes played, Mitrovic was unlucky to be deemed offside after Sala and Lalkovic broke down the left before splitting the defence and releasing the half time substitute into Palace area.

However, minutes later the decision seemed irrelevant, as Mitrovic won another freekick 25 yards out from goal.

Once again Tabor stepped up and launched a curling ball over the wall and in off the left post as the Palace keeper dived the wrong way, leaving him helpless to the advancing shot.

With only eight minutes of the game remaining, Palace managed to pull one back when their number 11 broke down the right and sent a shot skimming across the face of goal and into the far corner.

It seemed strange that the Palace man had found himself in so much space after such an impregnable performance from the Chelsea defence, but with the back line appealing for offside, the reason became clear.

That goal prevented the Blues from securing our first clean sheet since November, but nevertheless it was a comfortable win for Chelsea.

'It is a good win because there was the will to win there today,' explained Drummy after the game.

'We were disappointed after the loss in the Youth Cup and we have since put more demands on the boys and ourselves as coaches.

'Tabor has a fantastic technique with all dead-ball situations and he is the man when it comes to taking freekicks, he has the right attitude and it was good to see him score twice today.

'The game is all about commitment, the boys have to know they must constantly challenge opposition teams and without heart, fire and determination you are not going to get very far in football,' added Drummy.

Chelsea (4-3-3): Aldi Haxhia; Nikki Ahamed, Rohan Ince, Jack Saville, Jordan Tabor; Conor Clifford (Billy Clifford), Aliu Djalo, Milan Lalkovic; Jacopo Sala, Adam Phillip (Aziz Deen Conteh), Josh McEachran (Marko Mitrovic h-t).

Source: Chelsea FC

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