Chelsea’s first home academy fixture of the season saw them get themselves into the wins column after an opening-day defeat last weekend, as they beat Nottingham Forest 2-0 at home this morning courtesy of goals from Adam Phillip and Marko Mitrovic. The clean sheet was an impressive bonus for a team which struggled to keep them last year.
Coach Dermot Drummy made two changes to the team, bringing Daniel Philliskirk into the centre of midfield in place of James Ashton, with Phillip replacing Bobby Devyne to therefore give the team a more experienced look than last week. Conor Clifford continued as captain and the opening stages were scrappy, but despite settling the better of the two sides, Chelsea were unable to make any great gains in attack. Instead, it was Forest who really looked dangerous, twice hitting the woodwork and drawing Sam Walker into a fine save as they sought to take advantage of a sloppy Blues performance. The possession was there, but the final ball was struggling to be found, and despite some good movement from Phillip and from Milan Lalkovic, it didn’t appear to be forthcoming. That particular duo combined for the best moment of the first half, with Lalkovic beating his man and providing a fine cross which Phillip could only put wide.
The second half started in a brighter fashion, with Aziz Deen-Conteh coming on at left-back for Tom Hayden, switching Billy Clifford back to the right. Kaby and Philliskirk got involved more, and began to fashion some improved creativity. It was the diminutive Portuguese who had a big hand in the opening goal shortly after the restart, sliding a great through ball in behind, where Phillip and Mitrovic both arrived at the same time. Confusion initially reigned but it was Phillip who decided to take the chance, nudging it past the goalkeeper for 1-0.
The difference in Chelsea’s performance before and after the break was apparent for all to see, as a blue wave came crashing forth time and again, with Forest unable to stem it. Billy Clifford had a glorious chance to open his account but put it over, and Mitrovic sent a header against the goalpost as they looked to put the game to bed. Lalkovic, Billy Clifford and Danny Mills all had their own opportunities to do so before an impressive team move added the second and secured the win in the late stages.
Substitute Deen-Conteh combined well with the lively Lalkovic to deliver a telling cross to Mitrovic, who this time found the net to end a week where he has been training occasionally with the first team. With his return to fitness this summer, he has been finding the net regularly and opening his account in competitive action will have been a great fillip for him.
Thanks to Yasser (Trailblazer) for the fine information to compile this report.
Team: Walker, Hayden (Deen-Conteh 45), Strickland, Mills, B. Clifford, C. Clifford (c), Philliskirk, Kaby, Lalkovic, Phillip, Mitrovic
Goals: Phillip, Mitrovic