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Fa Youth Cup: Stevenage 0 Chelsea 1

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A single goal by substitute Adam Phillip (pictured) just before half-time was sufficient for Chelsea to clear the first hurdle in this season's FA Youth Cup campaign. On a freezing night and on an increasingly icy pitch, the game became a contest between not just the two teams but the elements as well. A kick-off delayed by 25 minutes did not help the scenario but when the match did commence, Chelsea had a shot cleared off the line as early as the third minute. A perfectly executed corner routine between Kakuta and Stoch set up Bruma. Stevenage Borough's Matthew Pring was the defender in the right place to block a low 20-yard rocket.0,,10268~3496542,00.jpg A Van Aanholt header over and a speculative Stoch shot that dipped and swerved but ultimately flew wide were Chelsea's two best efforts of the next 20 minutes. In midfield, Stevenage, understandably committed, put in a couple of meaty fouls. Coach Paul Clement had chosen a side with no recognised centre-forward, the number nine shirt handed to Sergio Tejera, usually a classic 'number 10'. The Spaniard dropped deep on several occasions, rotating positions with attacking midfielder Gaël Kakuta. Jacob Mellis, usually a midfielder, was a new face at right-back in the absence of suspended skipper Nana Ofori-Twumasi. On 22 minutes, Frank Nouble crossed from the left but Tejera slid his shot wide. Stoch forced a save at the near-post after Chelsea had shown what could be achieved when the ball was moved quickly through the middle but soon after came a set-back. Kakuta was forced off with an injury, replaced by Adam Phillip. The tall Nouble moved from wide to the middle to give the side a more traditional 4-3-3 look. Stoch was only inches away from netting a special goal with an outswinging shot with nine minutes to go to the break. On 39 minutes, the Stevenage keeper lost concentration and picked up a back pass right on the edge of the six-yard box but to the side wide on the left. Stoch was unable to do any more than smash the free-kick into the side-netting. It was all pointing towards a half-time break without the reassurance of a lead but that all changed on 44 minutes with a moment of inspiration from substitute Phillip. Running into the area, he found the way open and after nipping past the last challenge, finished low from 15 yards for a very good goal.Five minutes into the second half, Chelsea suffered a second injury and this time the contribution of the pitch could be questioned. Lee Sawyer slid in, missed a tackle and landed hard on his shoulder, suffering a dislocation. At the other end, Scott Balderson shot a yard over from distance for Stevenage's best attempt to date. The same player then forced a save from Rhys Taylor on 56 minutes. At the other end, Phillip's cross shot was hacked clear of the goalmouth and Chelsea left-back Ben Gordon had the ball in the net on 75 minutes but the flag was up. By now, the surface in that penalty area was causing concern, not least to the Stevenage keeper who slipped up on more than one occasion. The ref examined it, consulted with his linesman but the game was allowed to run it's course. The cushion of a second goal was proving elusive. With 12 minutes to go, Stoch wound up and let fly with a 35-yarder that smacked against the far-post and bounced safe. With a minute to go, Stevenage came frighteningly close to taking the match into extra-time when a ricochet fell between their Zak Burke and our Rhys Taylor. The Welsh keeper was brave and fast and just won the race. He made one more save before the final whistle. 'One of the penalty areas was difficult for both sides,' reported Clement after the game.'We didn't perform that well, a bit better in the first-half. It can be difficult coming to places like this where they try to get into you and upset you. That is good experience because we don't get that a lot in the league.'This is a new line-up for this competition and we are going have to be more cohesive if we are to progress further.'Chelsea will now play the winners of next Monday's tie between Newcastle and Shrewsbury. The venue will be Griffin Park and the game will be played before 20 January. Chelsea (4-3-3): Rhys Taylor; Jacob Mellis, Jeffrey Bruma, Patrick van Aanholt, Ben Gordon; Michael Woods ©, Gaël Kakuta (Adam Phillip 37), Lee Sawyer (Tom Taiwo 51); Frank Nouble (Nikki Ahamed 80), Sergio Tejera, Miroslav Stoch. Stevenage Christopher Adams, Ashley Grinham, Matthew Pring, Joe Finn, Gary Caslake, Liam McDevitt, Zak Burke, Danny Payne (George Brinkham 75), Sam Kenningham (Geoff Banks-Smith 63), Scott Balderson, Kerran Birch (Nathan Bustill 62).Source: Chelsea FC

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1 down, errr... how many more to go?
Not sure how many rounds there are...I can't for the life of me understand why they played Mellis at right back, i know Nana was suspended but why not play Cummings who is still old enough to play? And to play Tejera as a striker? What a waste of his ability, and it's not as if we don't have any strikers - Nielson, Borini, Phillip ect....Some odd team choices there. I am sure the weather didn't help but you would have hoped for a more convincing win against Stevenage, looking like Newcastle in the next round which we will have to be up for...
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