Goals from Michael Woods and Scott Sinclair for the second game in succession gave Brendan Rodgers and his team their second win from two Reserve league games and three points from their home opener in a quiet-ish London derby which the Blues fairly dominated from start to finish.
As was rumoured, Patrick van Aanholt was to miss out through injury, meaning Michael Mancienne played his first competitive Blues match in over two and a half years. Carl Magnay shuffled out to left back, whilst Morten Nielsen replaced Didier Drogba in attack. West Ham featured a young side suffering from some injuries, but did include prolific youngster Freddie Sears and Czech goalkeeper Jan Lastuvka.
The young Hammers had the first sight of goal, as winger Junior Stanislas cut in from the left and hit a low right footed effort wide. It was one of their few moments of established possession as Chelsea knocked it around comfortably, yet struggled to penetrate. Miroslav Stoch then had an opportunity to show off his set-piece prowess from right on the edge of the box, but his attempt was low and into the wall.
Just before the quarter hour mark the Blues went within inches of an opener. Scott Sinclair flew down the right wing and cut a cross back for the arriving Jacob Mellis. He had most of the goal gaping but to his credit West Ham defender Ashley Miller got in at the right time to deflect the effort just past the post. It was to signal an onslaught from the home team, without finding the net, but the pressure was mounting.
Sinclair, now on the left, found himself with space to run at the defence. He had an opening on two occasions to shoot but carried on dribbling and was forced out of play. Magnay found similar a few moments later, whilst Mellis driving down the right had options in the middle which he ignored and instead wasted his shot across the goal. Stanislas went close for the Hammers with a good low effort saved by Taylor but it was brief sojourn up field, and a rare instant of entertainment for the Welsh stopper.
Still, it was goalless at the break, but the start of the second half followed the 45 minutes which had preceded it. Sinclair and Mellis had early opportunities to score but found the stands, before Rodgers made his second inspired substitution in two games – once again featuring Michael Woods. At Arsenal the young Yorkshireman came on and had scored within three minutes. He bettered himself tonight, scoring inside two. He had a chance even before that, in a goalmouth scramble where the ball wouldn’t sit. From the following corner, he found a loose chance at the back post which he snapped up greedily and gave the hosts a well deserved lead.
It seemed to deflate West Ham a little bit – their main hope of a point was not to concede, and now that they had, there was little they could do to get back in it. As if to underline that point, it was 2-0 five minutes later. Sinclair dribbled past two or three half-hearted challenges and hit a daisy-cutter of a shot on his left foot which was accurate enough to beat Lastuvka’s dive and find the corner. It was wholly less emphatic than his strike at Arsenal, but just as important.
It put the game to bed, for all intents and purposes. Nielsen had a shot from a poor angle after demanding Mellis left it for him, and changes followed, Ferreira and Fernandes replacing Nielsen and Mellis. West Ham had another sight of goal late on, Eyjolfsson’s header from a corner straight at Taylor. They did, to their credit, up the pressure towards the end and had a half-claim for a penalty when Woods appeared to hold back Sears on the run, but the game had gone flat and finished with a comfortable and well-earned second successive win for Chelsea.
Not only was it a win, but it was a win full of impressive performances. Clearly beyond this level now, Mancienne and Sinclair strolled through the game – Sinclair looking impressive as he got involved in every attack. Bruma and Magnay especially were strong all-round, whilst Bridcutt was a driving force in midfield. In front of a vast number of managers and scouts, some of these lads may be out on loan sooner rather than later.
Photos from the match can be found on this link
Team: Taylor, Ofori-Twumasi, Bruma, Mancienne, Magnay, Bridcutt ©, Mellis (Fernandes 84), Tejera (Woods 57), Stoch, Sinclair, Nielsen (Ferreira 74)
Goals: Woods 59, Sinclair 64