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Stoke City Reserves v Chelsea FC Reserves


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ChelseaTV hosts live coverage of the reserves in action away to Stoke Citytonight, and manager Steve Holland is expecting a tough examination.With the first-team squad, along with a number offringe players, away on Champions League duty in Madrid, it will be ayouthful side that meets the Potters at Nantwich Town FC tonight.

'The team isdependent on many factors on a week-to-week basis,' Holland explained.'One of those is the Champions League, it does coincide with an awaygame which means there will be a large group of professionalstravelling to Madrid so they won't play in the reserves, which means itwill be a younger team, not as strong certainly as we put out againstWest Ham a couple of weeks ago.

'Nemanja Matic will be involved. He'llprobably be the only senior player and the make up of the rest of theside will be more or less the first year pros and the youth team, so itwill be a young side.'

That gives viewers a chance to take alook at the future, with a side that includes forward Fabio Borini, yeta further injury to defender Carl Magnay has ruled him out of actionfor some time.

'It's disappointing for Carl because hehad worked very hard to get back from a back injury and was lookinggood in training and in games and now to suddenly damage ligaments inhis knee and be out for anything up to eight weeks is a real blow forhim,' Holland said.

Holland,who worked at Stoke as Academy director prior to arriving at StamfordBridge, is able to include Josh McEachran, who has been on EnglandUnder 17 duty, in his side.

The creative midfielder played 90minutes in Saturday's 1-0 European Championship qualifying win againstSerbia, as did Chelsea schoolboy Nathaniel Chalobah.

'He might be part of it, he returnsSunday and we play Monday and it will be a case of communicating withJosh over the next couple of days, finding what he has done, when heplayed, how much he has played,' Holland said of McEachran on Friday.

'He is an outstanding player, albeit avery young one at 16 years of age and did very well in the last gameand it will be good to have him back.'

Stoke is the longest trip the reservesmake in the southern section of the FA Premier Reserve League, where wecurrently sit third after five games.

Chelsea team: Jan Sebek; Nikki Ahamed,Danny Mills, Nana Ofori-Twumasi, Ben Gordon; Conor Clifford, JacopoSala, Nemanja Matic, Josh McEachran; Fabio Borini, Milan Lalkovic.

Subs: Nic Heimann (GK), Kenny Strickland, Michael Woods, Billy Knott, Daniel Philliskirk.

Chelsea TV's coverage of tonight's game begins at 7pm on Sky channel 421.

Source: Chelsea FC

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Not a bad team at all, same midfield diamond as last time out which worked very well indeed.

My only concern as always when it happens is Nana Ofori at Centre back. Would much rather Strickland in there, Nana always worries me at Centre back....

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Any chance of Clifford getting a 1st team chance soon? and is Turnball not in the squad?

Anyway think Borini will score.

Can't envisage Clifford in our first team squad this season. He's still very young and is progressing well as it is. Not sure on Turnbull, must be with the first team along with Bruma presumably.

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Despitea spirited performance, Chelsea's reserves fell to an injury-timewinner against an experienced Stoke side at Nantwich Town FC on Monday.The Blues had fallen behind early onbefore leveling the scores before half-time, and then a wonder goalfrom Conor Clifford looked to have earned all three points , only fortwo late Stoke goals to turn the game on its head.

Reserve manager Steve Holland was hamstrung in his selection by the first-team squad's visit to Madrid, but was able to include Nemanja Matic in his line-up.

Elsewhere 18-year-old Jan Sebek replaced Ross Turnbull in goal, while Fabio Borini captained the side in attack.

In contrast Stoke were able to include awealth of experience, with first-team squad members throughout theside. Notably Steve Simonsen, the goalkeeper who performed heroicsagainst Spurs nine days ago, and forward Mamady Sidibe, whose comebackfrom injury lasted only a few minutes before being replaced by17-year-old Louis Moult.

Matic was quick to make an impact,heading Sala's corner wide inside the opening couple of minutes, whileMcEachran shot narrowly wide as Chelsea started brightly.

It was Stoke who took the lead though,eight minutes in. Tom Soares swung over a deep cross from the right,and sub Moult, on for Sidibe, managed to angle his far-post header backacross Sebek and in off the opposite post.

It was an obvious blow to Chelsea whohad started well, but the young Blues responded well and continued topass the ball with authority.

McEachran shot narrowly wide afterturning his marker inside out, and then Borini hit the crossbar with adelicate chip after he found himself in space when the midfielder hadslotted him through.

If that was a good chance, the Italian'snext look at goal was a sitter. Sala worked the ball right to MilanLalkovic, whose low cross found the striker unmarked 12 yards out.Borini had time to take a touch, but then sent his shot sailing overthe bar when he should have found the net.

It looked as though an equaliser wasn't far away, and sure enough it arrived, courtesy of schoolboy centre-half Danny Mills.

Up for a corner, he merely had to standinside the six-yard box and wait for Jacopo Sala's cross to arriveafter he and Borini had played a one-two, and then nod into the bottomcorner beyond Simonsen, who will have been wondering where his defencehad gone wandering to.

With alarm bells ringing against theiryounger opponents, Stoke upped their game and almost re-took the leadwhen Michael Tonge volleyed just wide but the scores remained level atthe break.

Ten minutes into the second half Chelseacould have gone ahead, but Simonsen was able to draw on his experienceto deny Lalkovic with a smart low save.

One attack later, the Blues did take the lead, as Conor Clifford hit a superb long drive into the bottom corner.

Struck from 30 yards, it will havereminded viewers of his winner against Wolves at the end of September.Simonsen might have saved it, though to suggest so would take somethingaway from the young Irishman's excellent shot.

At the other end Sebek did well to claimTonge's awkward shot at the second attempt, before being grounded byKitson's trailing leg. After a moment to gather himself, he was fine tocontinue, though the original challenge was enough to cause concern.

Lalkovic tested Simonsen with 19 minutesremaining, and from the corner that followed Matic couldn't quiteconnect with the Slovakian's cross.

He did a lot better with his nexteffort, forcing Simonsen to spill the ball and Lalkovic was on hand toturn it in, only for the offside flag to spare the goalkeeper's blushes.

With 13 left, Simonsen made amends as hepushed away Matic's low drive, the Serbian now at the centre ofeverything good from Chelsea.

The 21-year-old could do nothing aboutStoke's leveler though, as another Soares cross from the right washeaded home, this time in a looping fashion by Tonge, over Sebek's dive.

Eleven minutes still remained in whichto find a winner, but neither side was able to fashion a realgoalscoring opportunity in normal time.

Borini had two half-chances before Maticwas withdrawn on 85 minutes, but the sucker punch came in injury timeas Diego Arismendi slammed home the winner at the far post from acorner.

It was a poor goal for Chelsea toconcede, the third from a deep cross from the right, and a cruel end toa game in which the side had performed so well.

That makes it two defeats in three, butas the Academy and reserve staff like to point out, plenty will havebeen learned by the boys, which at this level is more important thanthe three points.

Chelsea: Jan Sebek; Nikki Ahamed, Danny Mills, Nana Ofori-Twumasi, Ben Gordon; Conor Clifford, Jacopo Sala (sub Michael Woods 64), Nemanja Matic (sub Daniel Philliskirk 85), Josh McEachran (sub Billy Knott 89); Fabio Borini, Milan Lalkovic.

Unused subs: Nic Heimann (GK), Kenny Strickland.

Stoke: Simonsen, Griffin, Pugh, Wedderburn (sub Lund), Cort, Higginbotham, Soares, Arismendi, Kitson, Tonge, Sidibe (sub Moult).

Source: Chlesea FC

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Felt so sorry for the lads last night, they deserved to win that game, a draw would have been harsh but the defeat was a downright injustice. Stoke fielded 10 first team squad member in their starting line up and we fielded a very young side indeed, the ages of these boys speaks for itself: Jan Sebek (18), Nikki Ahamed (18), Nana Ofori (19), Danny Mills (16), Ben Gordon (18), Conor Clifford (18), Nemanja Matic (21), Jacopo Sala (18), Josh McEachran (16), Fabio Borini (18), Milan Lalkovic (16). 3 16 year olds in our starting line up against a team with 10 Stoke first team squad players.

The odds looked stacked against us right from the start. However from kick off we absolutely dominated possesion and was playing some wonderful football. Stoke caught us on the break through and scored against the run of play. The young lads though never let their head drop and created chance after chance to get back into the game, it eventually came from a corner, Danny Mills finding himself completely free to head in from 3 yards out. The Chelsea boys kept the pressure on in the second half and should have gone ahead sooner than they did but eventually the goal came with connor clifford banging in another scorcher from way out. The lads looked liked being destined to take the points, continuing to take chances and even had a goal disallowed. Stoke then sucker punched us right at the death and nabbed 2 soft goals.

The boys come away with a a lot of pride. Steve Holland has done fantastic with the reserves since comming in, he has got them playing some fantastic football very much mirroring the first team at the moment. Add to that the young players we have comming through now are toally different class. The ability of the next generation like Ahamed, Mills, McEachran, Lalkovic ect.. are on such a high level it goes to show that we are truly now seeing the benefit of the academy.

Player Reviews:

Jan Sebek - Hasn't been involved much all season so far and i think that showed in his performance. He was very very reluctant to come for virtually any ball. And that did unsettle the defence a lot for periods. His shot stopping though is very good indeed and he pulled off a few good saves. Got a kick in the head going out to feet when Kitson could have got out of the way better but unlike Cech came away virtually unscathed. He is a good keeper but needs the games to get his performance level up. 7

Nikki Ahamed - Has been unfortunate in recent games that Paulo Ferreira has needed to make a comeback. That being said Ahamed is turning into a fantastic right back. Probably my man of the match last night, he really but in a top quality shift. His defending is of a high standard and he gets forward so well, most importantly though is that his delivery into the box is top drawer. I would describe him at the moment as a right sided Ashley Cole. He needs to keep this level of performance up and he will go far. 9

Nana Ofori-Twumasi - Now i really don't like seeing Nana at centre back, he isn't comfortable and it unbalances the defence. However he had one of his better games there. He didn't do too much wrong, his main problem was positional which is to be expected playing out of position. Needs to settle into a positon regulary if he is to get out on loan soon. 7

Danny Mills - The big lad once again stepped up to reserve level and done himself justice. Got on the scoresheet this time with a good header. Defensively he is strong and good in the air and has a decent turn of pace. Did well again, not as good as his last outing with the reserves but still fantastic for his age. 8

Ben Gordon - Improving every game i am glad to say. Much better defensively and getting forward, especially going forward in this game, he always made himself available and got in some very good positions. He needs to keep improving because Ryan Bertrand and Patrick Van Aanholt are way ahead of him at the moment in line for the first team. 8

Conor Clifford - Agian playing the holding role and doing very good. Most consistant performer this season for the reserves so far. He is settling in there very nicely and plays it much the same way Essien does for the first team. He does get forward also as we saw for him cracking in another super goal. I am sure all at the club are very happy with the way he is going. 8

Nemanja Matic - Improving every game i am glad to say. It is evident he has tons of ability, his touches, movement and passes are very good. He is still at times looking a little sloppy giving the ball away too easily, for me that is him acclimatising to English football. The ability is there and he is getting better with every game. 7

Jacopo Sala - Not as good as the game he played last week but Jacopo is much more comfortable on the right side of the diamond and that is where he is most effective. He still put in a very good performance, not as man crosses and we would like to see from him but his team play is very good. Another player who is progressing very nicely for us. 7

Josh McEachran - Continuing to play reserve games and it is going him the world of good. At times is still getting lost in the game but others he is totally influential. Has so much ability and with time he is going to turn into a top top player if handled right. Played a lot of games recently so did very well to complete the 90 but at 16 i guess you can run all day every day. 7

Fabio Borini - A frustrating night i would say for Borini, missed a few very good chances and like sturridge last week was almost trying too hard. Saying that his hold up play is looking better and better, he seems to have beefed up a little as well which is helping, the ball tends to stick to him when he is given it and that is what we are looking for. Should have scored but still a good game for him. Would have been a little dissapointed not to be on the plane to Madrid. 7

Milan Lalkovic - Not ideal him playing upfront but he is a nuisance to the defence and will run all over the park. He prefers running onto the ball than having the ball given to him with his back to goal. But plaing the diamond we need to find the best place for him as he is naturally a winger. Did Ok tonight and certainly worked hard, struggled a little against a very experienced defence. 7

Edited by EskWeston
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Felt so sorry for the lads last night, they deserved to win that game, a draw would have been harsh but the defeat was a downright injustice. Stoke fielded 10 first team squad member in their starting line up and we fielded a very young side indeed, the ages of these boys speaks for itself: Jan Sebek (18), Nikki Ahamed (18), Nana Ofori (19), Danny Mills (16), Ben Gordon (18), Conor Clifford (18), Nemanja Matic (21), Jacopo Sala (18), Josh McEachran (16), Fabio Borini (18), Milan Lalkovic (16). 3 16 year olds in our starting line up against a team with 10 Stoke first team squad players...................

You've given an average score of 7.8 to the defense, 7.25 for midfield and 7 for attack. That's pretty good scores for a 3-2 defeat, irrespective of the circumstances. Reading your reviews, there were some average performances. e.g. Sabek - 7 for what seems like a pretty average effort. Not dissing your opinions, just thinking that everyone settles at 7 for "OK", and 5's / 4's for awful, rather than starting at 5 and going up or down from there. It leaves less opportunity to get real feel for the performances. What did Ahamed do for his 9? I've taped the game to watch tonight and should expect something close to perfect for a right-back.

Having said that (and seriously not putting your opinions down, just getting some feel for how they got on and I do appreciate the detailed reviews you do) we are managing to fill in well with all the players on loan. I don't think the 16 year-olds would be near the team with a full squad so they should be congratulated on some mature performances to date.

Thanks again for the summary and you're right, the future's looking bright and I expect a few other scholars to come through this year once injuries have cleared up and they get a settled team.

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You've given an average score of 7.8 to the defense, 7.25 for midfield and 7 for attack. That's pretty good scores for a 3-2 defeat, irrespective of the circumstances. Reading your reviews, there were some average performances. e.g. Sabek - 7 for what seems like a pretty average effort. Not dissing your opinions, just thinking that everyone settles at 7 for "OK", and 5's / 4's for awful, rather than starting at 5 and going up or down from there. It leaves less opportunity to get real feel for the performances. What did Ahamed do for his 9? I've taped the game to watch tonight and should expect something close to perfect for a right-back.

Having said that (and seriously not putting your opinions down, just getting some feel for how they got on and I do appreciate the detailed reviews you do) we are managing to fill in well with all the players on loan. I don't think the 16 year-olds would be near the team with a full squad so they should be congratulated on some mature performances to date.

Thanks again for the summary and you're right, the future's looking bright and I expect a few other scholars to come through this year once injuries have cleared up and they get a settled team.

Everyone put in a very good performance last night, the team did more than well, the defeat does not in any way refelct the performance or the dominance of the Chelsea team. With my reviews i tend to be a bit more critical than probably i need to be, Sebek for example had his flaws last night but still put in a good performance. As for Ahamed what you will see is exacltly close to a perfect performance for a right back, very impressive indeed.

It would be harsh to give anyone under a 7 considering the circumstances of the game and the performance put in by the lads.....

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Having seen the game Ahamed did play very well indeed, as did most of the boys. Ahamed looked very comfortable and tricky going forward so I can see where your scores came from after that, which I'm still thankful for. A number of youngsters playing again tonight as far as I know as a lot missing from the weekend's Youth game (Mills, MacEachran, Lalkovic, B. Clifford).

BlueLion,

Thought MacEachran was at fault and lazy (no effort to get back) for Stoke's second. He played a few good passes but still needs to concentrate for the whole game. Done it a few times for Youth and Reserves this year, can't keep getting away with scoring / assisting one goal and giving away another. Excellent prospect just not sure his performances this year at Youth (or Reserves) level merit a starting Reserve spot yet. Woods must think his days are numbered!

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Having seen the game Ahamed did play very well indeed, as did most of the boys. Ahamed looked very comfortable and tricky going forward so I can see where your scores came from after that, which I'm still thankful for. A number of youngsters playing again tonight as far as I know as a lot missing from the weekend's Youth game (Mills, MacEachran, Lalkovic, B. Clifford).

BlueLion,

Thought MacEachran was at fault and lazy (no effort to get back) for Stoke's second. He played a few good passes but still needs to concentrate for the whole game. Done it a few times for Youth and Reserves this year, can't keep getting away with scoring / assisting one goal and giving away another. Excellent prospect just not sure his performances this year at Youth (or Reserves) level merit a starting Reserve spot yet. Woods must think his days are numbered!

Yes have absolutely no idea what sort of team we can expect tonight, but it will be a real mish/mash by the sound of it.....

I can see where you are comming from with McEachran, he did give up a bit easy for Stoke's second. However i think playing regulary at reserve level is what will be best for him, the lad is a massive talent and the sooner he can start being more imposing and improving his game against men the better....

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