Chelsea U21s scored three second-half goals against Blackburn Rovers U21 on Saturday, including a powerful opener from Mason Burstow, to secure a convincing 3-0 win in the Premier League 2 at Kingsmeadow.
Burstow’s thunderous effort took Chelsea ahead but two late goals, a penalty by Omari Hutchinson and a cool in-the-box finish by Ben Elliot, were the final nails in Blackburn’s coffin.
The Chelsea side came into this match on a streak of good results, but even their form couldn’t compare to Blackburn’s who were the side to beat in the division with four wins in their last five matches.
The Blues accepted the challenge in style, with Chelsea boss Mark Robinson stating that Blackburn were a different challenge, but a good one following the win.
“When you dominate you don’t need to complicate things,” said Robinson after his side’s strong second half performance.
Blackburn opened the match stronger and frustrated the home side in the first 20 minutes, however momentum quickly turned with Chelsea troubling goalkeeper Jordan Eastham with Elliot’s in-box effort in the 26th minute and Burstow’s glancing header in the 32nd minute.
Chelsea’s continued control of play paid off through Burstow who occupied plenty of space to Eastham’s right, but his striking effort took the home side ahead in the 60th minute.
Burstow nearly doubled his tally with an arrowing header 15 minutes later which forced Eastman into an athletic reflex save.
In the closing moments of the match, Hutchinson made a powerful dribble across the Blackburn defence and secured his side an 89th minute penalty, which he converted convincingly to Eastham’s left.
Soon after, Ben Elliot etched his name on the scoresheet with a 95th minute tap-in to secure Chelsea’s 3-0 win.
Chelsea’s First-half Struggles
Despite the final score, Chelsea struggled in the first half to make the most of their chances against a stubborn Blackburn defence.
Defender Leo Castledine said that the first half was frustrating with Chelsea finding it difficult to break Blackburn down.
“You’re always trying to do the right things, trying to break them down. Sometimes it just doesn’t work out that way,” he said.
However, he praised the team’s performance after halftime. He said: “In the second half we showed that extra bit of ruthlessness.
“We kept doing the same things from the first half because it was getting us chances, it was just a question of taking them.”
Forward Omari Hutchinson won his penalty following a skilful run across the defence before being tackled in the box.
Hutchinson said: “I think every time I get the ball I want to drive as quick as I can towards goal – whether that’s passing to someone or scoring myself.”
“That’s the main objective: getting to goal as quick as possible and scoring or assisting.”
Despite their loss, Blackburn goalkeeper Eastham performed spectacularly making multiple crucial saves which kept his team in the game in the first half. While Chelsea’s strength eventually got the better of the Lancashire side, midfielder Lewis Hall praised his opposing goalkeeper.
Hall said: “It’s difficult when the keeper is saving them, but we have to keep going and keep motivating each other.”
Mark Robinson was pleased with his team’s performance and provided insight into the mentality needed to progress from youth football into top-flight football.
Robinson said: “It’s about relentless good habits… We talk a lot about behaviour and relentlessly churning out good behaviour because at this age that’s what gets you into top flight football.
“They’ve all got ability but if a manager can’t trust them, on and off the ball, they’re not going to get there.” Chelsea’s win edges them further up the table with the London side sitting comfortably in fifth place and no doubt eyeing top-of-the-league Crystal Palace U21. Blackburn meanwhile left Kingsmeadow disappointed to remain ninth with a dent in their recent unbeaten form.