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Portsmouth Reserves 2 Chelsea Reserves 5

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International call-ups at junior level make an impact on tonight's(Tuesday) reserve line up for the first away fixture of the season atPortsmouth.It will be a youthful Chelsea side for Steve Holland's second gamein charge, the new reserve team manager having a spent his first fullweek working with the players.

He will be looking for a strong reaction to last Tuesday's 4-0 homedefeat against Aston Villa and gives a first reserve start to ConorClifford.

The Republic of Ireland Under 19 international has previously madeone sub appearance at this level and is likely to play in midfieldtonight, taking the place of Jeffrey Bruma who is away on internationalduty with Holland.

Clifford is the one change in midfield. In the opening match thesecond string moved away from the 4-3-3 shape used last season into adiamond midfield 4-4-2, one of the systems used by the first team thisseason.

With Daniel Sturridge called up by England Under 21s, Adam Phillipmoves up from the youth team to partner Fabio Borini in attack.

With Carl Magnay unavailable through injury, Nana Ofori-Twumasimoves from right-back to centre-back with Nikki Ahamed coming intodefence. Sam Hutchinson (pictured) will again captain from the back.

Rhys Taylor takes over in goal from Ross Turnbull.

Portsmouth opened their season with a 2-1 away win at Wolves lastweek. The south coast team proved profitable opponents for Chelsea'sreserves last season. Following a 2-0 win away when Borini nettedtwice, the match at Brentford was won 6-0.

Two seasons ago Chelsea recorded a 4-0 victory in the away fixture.

The Chelsea line up tonight is:

Rhys Taylor, Nikki Ahamed, NanaOfori-Twumasi, Sam Hutchinson ©, Ben Gordon; Jacopo Sala, MichaelWoods, Gael Kakuta, Conor Clifford, Adam Phillip, Fabio Borini.

Subs: Jan Sebek (gk), Daniel Philliskirk, Billy Clifford, Milan Lalkovic, Kenny Strickland.

The venue for the action is Havant and Waterlooville FC with a 7.05pm kick-off.

Chelsea TV will begin live coverage at 7pm with news from the stadium in Blues News from 6.30pm.

Source: Chelsea FC

Edited by EskWeston
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Good to see Conor Clifford getting his first reserves start, i said last week i would like to see him given a go at the base of the diamond and it will be the most interesting aspect in this game for me.

Bad news having Nana starting at centre back, completely fish out of water in that position for me. Hopefully also Sala and Kakuta can swap roles, Gael will be much more effective behind the forwards. And a start for Adam Phillip, who will be looking to impress and earn more starts at this level.

Also a very young bench with Lalkovic, Strickland and Clifford. Hopefully we will see a much improved performance after last weeks debacle against Villa.

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<h3 class="headline" id="headline">RESERVE REPORT: PORTSMOUTH 2 Chelsea 5 </h3> Itwas a fine response to last week's heavy defeat as Adam Phillip(pictured above) scored a hat-trick and Fabio Borini netted twice inHampshire on Tuesday evening.

Carlo Ancelotti and Ray Wilkins were there to see an inexperiencedsecond string record a well-deserved win in this first away game of theseason.

Portsmouth, though not resembling the tight Aston Villa unit thatput four past Chelsea seven days ago, still contained five players withfirst team experience including keeper Jamie Ashdown who would have abusy match.

Given disruption to backline Chelsea backline before and during thisgame, the management won't find it too hard to forgive the two goalsPortsmouth put past Rhys Taylor who was returning from injury.

Already without injured Carl Magnay and with Jeffrey Bruma oninternational duty, another centre-back was lost when skipper SamHutchinson fell ill in the afternoon.

Kenny Strickland, an 18-year-old who has been signed on a short-termcontract having been released by Manchester United, played with regularright-back Nana Ofori-Twumasi moving into the centre alongside him.

There was a good start to the game for Republic of Ireland Under 19international Conor Clifford, making his first start for Chelseareserves. The midfielder challenged well to halt a dangerous Pompeyrun.

The opening goal came after just two minutes, the ball bundled in atthe second attempt by Phillip when Ashdown made a horrible mess ofcoming for a lofted Jacopo Sala ball into the box.

Gaël Kakuta dragged a shot wide soon after and then Phillip headedwide after evading offside. Chelsea were ascendant, further evidencedby a booking for Luke Wilkinson.

Kakuta, beginning to show in the reserves the form that marked theFrenchman down as an outstanding prospect in the youth team, was inchesaway from applying a finishing header to a move he started, Ben Gordonoverlapping and crossing well.

A danger was that a Chelsea defence short on inches could be found out but that was not the case early on.

Chelsea's 26th minute second goal was the product ofopportunistic finishing, Borini (pictured below) snapping into actionwhen the ball broke free on the edge of the area after Phillip's strongrun forward had been engaged by the Portsmouth defence. The Italianadjusted his body position well and fired in.


Portsmouth took only three minutes to pull it back to a single-goaldeficit, Ofori-Twumasi losing out in a 50-50 tackle and Cowan-Hallracing away to cross for Subotic to find the bottom corner.

Ofori-Twumasi was now struggling with injury and would soon go off,replaced by full-back Billy Clifford in another defensive shuffle. Afew strong challenges followed elsewhere on the pitch, Borini hackeddown on two occasions, but he recovered to latch onto a Kakutadefence-splitter. After rounding the indecisive Ashdown, his shot wasas off-balance as it was off-target.

There was a good moment for Portsmouth when Cowan-Hall shot widebefore Phillip fired straight at the keeper and Kakuta did similar witha longer range shot.

Neither side created danger in the first 15 minute of the secondhalf apart from one Pompey run that was crowded out, but then cametheir equaliser.

Chelsea's makeshift defence was finally exploited when a cross fromthe right was not cleared. Mahoto capitalised and banged a shot pastTaylor. It was frustration for the away side who had not deserved to bepegged back on chances.

On 64 minutes Wilkinson made his final contribution, the Portsmouthcentre-back scything down Kakuta clumsily, rightly receiving a secondyellow card.

Two minutes later Chelsea could not believe the lead hadn't beenrestored. First Borini lashed a shot against the bar and then whenAshdown punched clear in the aftermath, Phillip volleyed powerfullyon-target, the keeper pulling off a fine save.That was his best momentof the game.

Steve Holland's side wouldn't be denied however. Sala's near-post corner was emphatically headed in by Borini.

The Italian, who also scored two goals in this fixture last season,was now enjoying himself, arching a speculative 35-yarder onto the barwith just over 15 minutes remaining.

Kakuta nipped past a challenge and was too straight with his attemptbut then was in the right place to divert a ball into Phillip's pathfor a blast into the bottom corner from the edge of the area. It was4-2 Chelsea and there were 78 minutes gone.

Phillip smashed a hat-trick chance over when Sala knocked down ConorClifford's cross and Woods had an attempt saved as resurgent Chelseatoyed with 10-man Portsmouth in the closing stages.

Phillip had not played in the Villa defeat. Having scored for theyouth team on Saturday and now over the cruciate injury that took awaymuch of last season, he was in for Daniel Sturridge who is with EnglandUnder 21s.

The 18-year-old did make it a personal tally of three goals instoppage time, rolling the ball into the net when keeper and defenderimpeded each other in dealing with a Conor Clifford threat.

Chelsea (4-1-2-1-2):Rhys Taylor; Nikki Ahamed, KennyStrickland, Nana Ofori-Twumasi (Billy Clifford 38), Ben Gordon; JacopoSala; Conor Clifford, Michael Woods ©; Gaël Kakuta; Adam Phillip,Fabio Borini.

Portsmouth: Ashdown; Hurst (Gregory 70), Ward,Wilkinson, Sowah; Bopp, Basinas (Bennett 68), Mahoto; Cowan-Hall,Nlundulu; Subotic (du Chattelier 76).

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I have been calling wll week for that to happen. Something like back up for January and first team for little teams in the FA Cup/Carling. The guy just keeps on scoring down the reserves, if i was Carlo, i would play him for FA Cup to see hpw good he can be playing alongside Lampard and co, or if he can handle the pressure.

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This match was definately an improvement from the game against Villa. Although Pompey were very poor and i do wonder how we would have done this week against Villa. One thing we did do very well this week compared to last was the commitment level, i cannot fault the players on their commitment at all and they were all over the place closing down and showing a real determination to win the ball and get forward with it. Our passing was still a little poor at times but at other times it was excellant and we created some lovely moves.

There is still a lot of work to be done with this diamond formation. It looked better for sure, especially with Kakuta at the head of the diamond where he was far more of a threat than he was last week. I was very confused that Jacopo Sala was prefered at the base of the diamond to Conor Clifforf who impressed me in the first 90 minutes i have seen him play. Sala like Bruma just isn't suited to that position and didn't influence the game like he should, Clifford who showed grit and passing ability should definately have been played there.

Also our full backs are not getting forward enough to support which is needed in this formation as we see from Cole and Bosingwa for the first team. Gordon, Ahamed and Clifford just didn't get forward enough even though Pompey sat so deep at times that they were practically inviting them onto them. It is some that can be worked on and i am sure will be.

On positive notes Borini and Phillip worked an excellant partnership upfront bagging all 5 goals between them, Kakuta looked more comfrtable higher up the pitch and Strickland had a very good debut at the back.

It was very good to see the improvements from the lads and i hope this is now a good basis for them to kick on and work hard to get things clicking for them because they are a very good group of players.

Player Reviews:

Rhys Taylor: Back after suffering a thigh injury preventing him from doing any kicking. He did OK even though he had very little to do in truth. Was not at fault for either goals and looked be commanding in his box. With competition from Sebek Taylor needs to have some good performances, especially if he wants to kick on a level. 7/10

Nikki Ahamed: Started off at right back and then moved to left back once nana went off. Didn't do much wrong to be fair and worked hard. Needs to be more adventurous going forward, needs to spend some time looking and studying Ash and Bos to improve this aspect of his game. Still, early days in his reserves career and he did well. 7/10

Kenny Strickland: First look at Strickland and i was pretty impressed, wasn't overly tested but what he did do was simple and effective without anything over the top or extravagant. He looked comfortable and competent, looks ideal for the cover we need him for and he may turn out to be a decent signing for us over time. 7/10

Nana Ofori-Twumasi: I am never comfortable when i see Nana at centre back, it just isn't right for him. At times he was caught out of position but other times he was combative and strong. Picked up an injury before half time and had to come off. 6/10

Ben Gordon: Swapped to centre back when Nana went off and did OK even though he had little to do, the main thing was that i never noticed any mistakes from him which is what you want to be seeing. Looked good when at left back but like Ahamed needs to get forward more in this formation. 7/10

Jacopo Sala: Holland seems to be trying everyone out at the base of the diamond as we have no natural to play there. Sala was never an option for me, it just doesn't suit his abilities and it didn't. Not that he did anything wrong but he wasn't the influence we want to see from a holding player or from Sala himself. To be fair to him though he did what he was asked to do without any complaints. 7/10

Michael Woods: Michael Woods is an absolute mystery to me at the moment. I just can't work him out. I am used to the Woods dynamo who is all of the park in tackles and getting forward to score. This Michael Woods in unrecognisable. He is so deep for the main part and seems reluctant to get involved for the majority of the game. He needs to get involved and be the influence he once was or things are going to go wrong for him. 6/10

Conor Clifford: Debut for Clifford and the first full game i have seen from him and i was very impressed. He is a battler and a great passer of the ball. As mentioned i would have prefered to see him at the base of the diamond but he did impress very much indeed. Doesn't give the ball away and looks to get things going forward. Hope to see a lot more of him this season in the reserves. 8/10

Gael Kakuta: Much much better performance from Gael from last week. He was far more comfortable at the top of the diamond and more importantly a bigger influence on the game. He was unlucky not to score himself in this game and he looked much happier too. One thing i will say is that at the moment Gael seems to have lost a yard of pace, at times he looked a little sluggish and that is something i hope can be worked on and not an after effect of injury. Also another worry his he is very quick to pull out of tackles, similar to what we saw from Robben after his injury run. 7/10

Fabio Borini: Very much like Fabio, he is a workhorse and he is a pure goalscorer. This lad will score goals all day long. An excellant performance from him again, and was very very unlucky not to get a hat-trick but Fabio will not be short of goals this season that for sure. I hope this lads progress is fast. 9/10

Adam Phillip: Back to the reserves this week after scoring for the youths on Saturday. He pops up in this game with a hat-trick. Adam Phillips is still a little raw in his player but he most certainly can score goals and that is what he is there to do. Phillip is another returing from injury and he will hope to keep this form up and continue a good partnership with Borini. 9/10

Billy Clifford: A quick rise to the reserves for Billy who has only been making youths appearances this season. Played at left back after Nana went off and did very good to be fair to him. Never looked out of place and did what was asked of him. This early 45 mins of reserves action will have done him the world of good. 7/10

Overall, good improvement. Still some things to work on but we are most certainly in the right direction.

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Does anyone think Borini should get called up for Chelsea First team maybe come on in carling cup?

Yes, Ray Wilkins has confirmed that they will use young players for the Carling Cup this season. As most of our players our out on loan i would say the only ones with a real shot are Hutchinson, Bruma, Kakuta and Borini. It would be worth giving Borini a go just to see if he can cover for when the ACN comes around.

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Ahmed did a really solid job at left back it looked, always offered width in attack and was comfortable in defence. Sala isn't right for the holding midfield position as you say, but his corners were top all night and think he deserves a 7. A little harsh on Michael Woods, I thought he had a good game in the centre, worked hard and spreaded the ball well. Phillip and Borini were both on fire, and everything that was positive went through Kakuta in the attack. Complete transformation from the players from last weeks game against Villa.

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Ahmed did a really solid job at left back it looked, always offered width in attack and was comfortable in defence. Sala isn't right for the holding midfield position as you say, but his corners were top all night and think he deserves a 7. A little harsh on Michael Woods, I thought he had a good game in the centre, worked hard and spreaded the ball well. Phillip and Borini were both on fire, and everything that was positive went through Kakuta in the attack. Complete transformation from the players from last weeks game against Villa.

Woods i am judging on his ability, he is a shadow of his former self. He has so much more to offer and we are not seeing it, we need to see more from him, he looks timid compared to how he used to play, the sort of form that saw him make a first team appearance. With this diamond formation our midfield is key and in the reserves we still have not got it right, Woods isn't influencial enough in the middle and Sala is not the holding player. It is telling that Clifford who is a few years behind Woods was the better player of the 2 when they were playing the same role.

Kakuta was far better than last week, but again on his ability i think he has a couple of levels to go up. 1 key thing for me is his speed which he has lost a little of. Like i said hopefully it is something he can get back with time and games and isn't a result of the injury. This lad is a special player, very special indeed and we need to get him back to his top level.

Pompey were whipping boys last night, no doubt we played much better than last week but there is definate room for improvement. The players are all good enough, there is no doubt there, it is just a matter of getting them understanding and working this system properly.

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