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Chelsea Reserves 1 Fulham Reserves 2


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A first Chelsea strike for Mineiro couldn't prevent defeat for the reserves at Fulham, due to goals at the end of either half.

Chelsea played well for most of the game, and will come away from Craven Cottage desperately disappointed to have lost the game. There was though a scarcity of chances for either side, and so the lion's share of possession could not be capitalised on.

In the absence of Paul Clement, away on Champions League duty in Liverpool, Dermot Drummy stepped up from the youth team to take charge for the evening.

He was blessed with the availability of Ricardo Quaresma and 33-year-old Mineiro, while 19-year-old defender Sam Hutchinson made a second comeback after serious knee trouble ruled him out for almost the entire 2007/08 season.

The 19-year-old's first involvement was on the front foot, skipping past a challenge before releasing Frank Nouble on the left wing. The Academy youngster's cross was aimed at the far post, but gathered at the second attempt by Swiss international goalkeeper Pascal Zuberbuhler.

The 38-year-old was one of a number of experienced players in the home line-up. Other recognisable names were Chris Baird, Giles Barnes (on loan from Derby), Julian Gray, Diomansy Kamara and Erik Nevland.

Despite the extra experience of the home side, it was Chelsea who had begun the game better. Fabio Borini, playing at the front of a midfield three, touched off for Nouble who cracked a low shot which Zuberbuhler did well to reach.

A few minutes later the 17-year-old winger turned provider as he crossed low into the path of Adam Phillip at the near post. The forward touched it on, but it wasn't enough and the ball was hooked off the line to safety.

Half an hour in, Chelsea goalkeeper Jan Sebek had hardly been called into action - his only duty being to punch away a Fulham cross. Then, Gray fired high before Barnes, so highly rated at Derby, created space for himself before shooting straight at the Czech.

At the other end Quaresma was fouled on the edge of the area and lined up a free-kick himself, shooting with venom but lacking precision. Hutchinson stretched to correct the path but couldn't connect.

Just before half-time Fulham went in front. Erik Nevland took advantage of a Jeffrey Bruma airshot, firing low to Sebek's left after Gray had nodded down at the far post. The keeper's cause was further hindered by a slight deflection off Hutchinson's studs.

It was a harsh end to what had been a pleasing half for Chelsea, though Drummy would have been instructing his men at half-time that they needed to work Zuberbuhler a lot more.

Hutchinson was withdrawn at the break, replaced by the attacking full-back Ben Gordon, whose introduction meant Patrick van Aanholt reverted to centre-half.

Despite the change in personnel, the pattern of the game remained the same. Nouble cut inside from the left and shot again, this time just over.

Just before the hour mark it was an error in the Fulham defence that allowed Mineiro in to equalise. The Brazilian midfielder won possession 30 yards from goal, evaded a challenge and shot low with accuracy, if not much power, beyond the laboured dive of Zuberbuhler and into the bottom corner.

Nobody had seen it coming after a low key start to the half, but equally nobody could complain that the Blues were back on terms. Two minutes later Nouble nearly found the net himself, nodding a Quaresma corner just wide.

Four minutes later the lead should have been secured, Quaresma cut inside and saw his shot blocked, then Borini put the rebound over the line as a Fulham defender cleared, claiming it hadn't crossed. A raised offside flag made the ifs and buts academic.

Borini's influence continued. It was his run that forced Barnes to tug his shirt, allowing Quaresma another sight at goal from a dead ball. Again though his judgement was just out, curling around the wall but just wide of the goal.

Fulham's extra experience allowed them to continue probing, forcing Sebek into a fairly comfortable save 10 minutes from time, gathering a looped far-post header.

That looked like being the game's last chance, as it headed for a repeat of January's draw at Brentford. Fulham sub Michael Owezu hadn't read the script though, and when Sebek could only palm away a speculative shot from outside the area, the forward was on hand to slot home a winner.

The lesson to learn for Chelsea is not to switch off at the end of either half. It is though a young and learning side, such mistakes can be forgiven and duly stamped out. The bigger hope is that the first team don't do it at Anfield on Wednesday night.

Chelsea: Jan Sebek, Nana Ofori-Twumasi, Jeffrey Bruma, Sam Hutchinson (sub Ben Gordon ht), Patrick van Aanholt, Mineiro, Ricardo Quaresma, Liam Bridcutt ©, Adam Phillip, Fabio Borini, Frank Nouble (sub Jacob Mellis 85).

Fulham: Pascal Zuberbuhler, Fredrik Stoor (sub Karim Laribe ht), Alex Smith, Chris Baird, Chris Smalling, Matthew Saunders, Courtney Harris, Giles Barnes, Diomansy Kamara (sub Michael Uwezu ht), Erik Nevland, Julian Gray

Source: Chelsea FC

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