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Chelsea Youth 0 Crystal Palace Youth 3

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Chelsea'syouths were beaten 3-0 at home by Crystal Palace on Saturday, despitehaving much of the play and hitting the woodwork three times.The Blues fell behind early on, and despitecreating chances could not manage a goal, even missing a penalty at theend of the first half, while Palace were clinical in front of goal,profiting from more than their share of luck.

Chelsea came into thegame in third place, one point and one placing above the visitors, whocould argue a game in hand. Recent form had been mixed, with a 3-1defeat at West Ham last weekend bringing a three-game unbeaten streakto an end.

On a bright Cobham morning, Chelsea began thisone well, moving the ball from side to side, and it was only 90 secondsbefore the ball was in the Palace net, only for an offside flag to ruleout the goal.

The following few minutes followed a similarpattern with the Blues in control, yet the first opportunity fell to apowerful-looking Palace side, as a simple through ball cut through theChelsea defence. Fortunately on this occasion the Palace forwardslotted wide of the post rather than inside it.

The first goal came with Palace's next attack on10 minutes. A quick free-kick was half cleared from the Chelsea area,but fell kindly to a Palace midfielder, whose well-struck shot wasdeflected past an unsighted Aldi Haxhia in the Chelsea goal.

Chelsea responded well,the deficit failing to alter the patient approach, though at times itwas a little untidier than was needed. The Palace keeper showed safehands from Marko Mitrovic's effort, before Billy Clifford curled a shotonto the post. The game promised more goals.

Haxhia produced a smart low save to prevent asecond Palace goal on the breakaway, before Gokhan Tore, who hadtemporarily switched to the Chelsea right, shot just wide at the otherend.

Palace almost struck lucky a second time, whenanother long-range deflected shot crept just past the post, and perhapsChelsea were still wondering how it had gone wide when the corner wastaken. Marking was lax and Palace were able to sweep home a second withthe game 25 minutes old.

Still Chelsea showed no signs of giving in.Clifford flicked Tore's free-kick onto the crossbar with his head,before then shooting hard against the bar again, this time from range.Once is unlucky, three times by one player, in one half, is a littlelaughable. Just to emphasise this emerging dark comedy, the Surreyskies had turned from blue to grey.

A stroke of luck did finally arrive though, whenMitrovic tangled legs with a defender in the Palace area, and the refpointed to the spot, allowing the forward a chance to hit the net.

His penalty was struck low to the keeper's left,exactly where the stopper guessed, and he pushed it away, blocking therebound too, a real choker for Dermot Drummy's men just moments beforethe half-time whistle.

At the break, Chelsea made two changes with Bobby Devyne and Tom Hayden replacing Milan Lalkovic and Clifford.

Devyne went to the right flank where Lalkovic hadbegun the game, while Hayden, normally a defender, slotted intoClifford's midfield berth.

Just five minutes into the second period, it wasHayden that surrendered possession just inside the Palace half, anddespite tracking his man all the way back to the edge of the Chelseabox, could not deliver and effective tackle. With half a yard of space,the strike from the Palace midfielder was emphatic, leaving Haxhia withno chance and the Blues with a long way back.

A deep Billy Knott free-kick caught the wind andbeat the keeper on 55 minutes, only to then bounce over the bar too,before Drummy made a third change - Aziz Deen-Conteh on at left-back,Knott moved up to midfield and Anton Rodgers sacrificed.

Tore, playing at the top of the midfield diamond,was beginning to look effective, his sharp footwork foxing opponentstime and again. The young Turk rifled a shot inches wide as he lookedto galvanise his side. Plenty of time still remained, and with a strongwind blowing towards the away goal, Chelsea were likely to have chances.

Mitrovic nodded wide, Knott had a shot ricochetover and Mills Pappoe headed over but the breakthrough never arrived.Just before the final whistle Devyne was denied by the impressivePalace goalkeeper, who was probably his side's man of the match, andMills Pappoe had another header cleared off the line.

It is the first time this season any Chelseaside, youth, reserve or first team, has suffered back-to-back defeats,a trend the Academy must now wait a fortnight for with no game nextweekend.

Their next fixture is away at Arsenal on Saturday, December 5.

Chelsea: AldiHaxhia; Ben Sampayo, Danny Mills Pappoe, Kenny Strickland ©, BillyKnott; George Saville, Milan Lalkovic (Tom Hayden h-t), Billy Clifford(Bobby Devyne h-t), Anton Rodgers (Aziz Deen-Conteh 55), MarkoMitrovic, Gokhan Tore.

Source: Chelsea FC

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