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U21s: Chelsea snatch draw

13 January 2014

Late penalty denies win


Chelsea U21s 2 (Christensen 50, Baker 90)
Reading U21s 2 (Fosu 17, Tanner 28)

Reading's under-21s were denied a superb win away at Chelsea on Friday evening in the Barclays Under-21 Premier League as a stoppage time penalty from England youth international Lewis Baker snatched a 2-2 draw at their Cobham Training Ground.

The Royals performed admirably against the high-flying blues and raced into a two goal lead as Academy second year scholar Tariqe Fosu fired in before winning a penalty that Craig Tanner duly converted.

Though Chelsea hit back right after the break with a bullet header from Denmark youth international Andreas Christensen, Martin Kuhl's men looked to be holding out for an excellent victory, only for Baker to equalise from the spot at the death.

Our under-21s were without eligible players Jake Taylor, Jordan Obita, Gozie Ugwu and Aaron Tshibola given their eventual involvement with the first team squad at Watford, and though Liam Kelly missed the game due to a knock, no less than nine current Academy scholars were in the night's squad.

The visitors started brightly under the floodlights at a chilly Cobham and were rewarded with the game's opening chance as captain Aaron Kuhl fired a free-kick narrowly over Beeney's bar. 

Chelsea's first opportunity came moments later as Jeremie Boga spearheaded a quick attack on the break. The French attacker fed in Brown down the right channel and the striker's effort was struck well but saved comfortably by Stuart Moore in the Reading goal.

But after 17 minutes, the young Royals had taken an early advantage. Following a free kick, Kuhl lofted a ball towards the back post that Niall Keown headed across goal, and Fosu was on hand to benefit from some poor defending to finish well into the bottom corner.

And just over ten minutes later, Reading had doubled their lead. Tanner delivered an inviting ball over the top for Fosu and the goalscorer, in behind the defence, was felled by onrushing goalkeeper Mitchell Beeney. The referee pointed to the spot and Tanner stepped up to convert expertly into the bottom right corner.

The hosts had a couple of half chances go amiss before the interval, with our youngsters certainly in the ascendancy going into the dressing room at half time.

Second Half

Chelsea came flying out of the blocks after the break and clinched an important early goal. Baker swung in a dangerous corner from the left and defender Christensen rose highest to power home - with the help of the underside of the crossbar.

The goal set the tone for the hosts to finally make their mark on the game. Skipper Nathan Ake had an effort blocked before Boga skewed wide and Davey saw a header go amiss.

It was the Blues' turn to shout for a penalty as the game ticked into the final ten minutes as substitute Ruben Loftus-Cheek complained about his shirt being pulled, but referee John Busby was not convinced.

The Royals were defending heroically - Pierce Sweeney made a fantastic last ditch tackle while Shane Griffin made a world-class challenge on Baker who was through on goal.

But that was just after Chelsea grabbed a last minute leveller to harshly deny a determined Reading side victory. Keown was penalised for a handball from a corner inside the box, and Baker stepped up to cooly slot past Moore for 2-2.

Kuhl's men, however, can be proud of an excellent performance ahead of Thursday's crucial Barclays Under-21 Cup match with Watford at Basingstoke.

Chelsea: Beeney; Dabo, Davey, Christensen, Nditi (Loftus-Cheek 74); Ake (C), Baker, Swift (Musonda 61); Boga, Brown, Feruz (Musonda 55).

Unused subs: Collins, Aina.

Reading: Moore; Long, Griffin, Sweeney (Hyam 87), Keown; Fridjonsson, Kuhl (C), Murombedzi, Fosu; Stacey; Tanner.

Unused subs: Ward, Shaughnessy, Vastsuk, Taylor-Crossdale.


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