Chelsea U23s remain top of the Premier League 2 after a convincing 3-1 victory over rivals Arsenal.
It was the clash of the two unbeaten teams at the Ebb Stadium in Aldershot on Friday night and the home side showed their potency in front of goal once again, especially centre forward Charlie Brown who netted twice.
Arsenal’s defensive problems were once again on display and after a slow start to the match, their back four were split open in the 17th minute when Thierno Ballo slid in Brown, who made no mistake from close range and slotted into the bottom corner to pick up his first of the league campaign.
The visitors came agonisingly close less than ten minutes later, when Ben Cottrell’s low edge of the box strike trickled past the post.
Arsenal failed to clear their lines from a Billy Gilmour set piece in the 32nd minute and the ball fell to central midfielder Clinton Mola, who’s deflected volley left goalkeeper Karl Hein with no chance and doubled the hosts’ lead.
The away side responded on the stroke of half-time when Ben Cottrell pounced on a rebound from a Folarin Bogun shot and fired in at the near post from six yards.
Arsenal then began to put pressure on the hosts and had their fair share of chances after the break, largely thanks to standout star Folarin Bolagun. The number 9 superbly set up Trae Coyle with a through ball in the third minute of the second half, but the pacey forward could only fire straight at Jamie Cummings in goal.
The visitors’ pressure continued to build in the 53rd minute, when Balogun went down after trying to take it past the outrushing Chelsea keeper, but referee Richard Hulme waved it away.
It was another impressive albeit goalless performance from the 18-year-old, who has scored seven times this season and remains the league’s deadliest striker.
The blues restored their two-goal advantage when Charlie Brown grabbed his second of the game in the 56th minute, heading home near post from another brilliant whipped delivery from captain Gilmour.
Arsenal had the better of the chances towards the end but were kept at bay by an impressive Jamie Cummings in goal. A looping Trae Coyle shot was tipped over by the young English keeper on the 60-minute mark, before a fizzed Zak Johnson shot in the 77th minute forced him to make a strong two-handed save.
After notching his first two goals of the season, Charlie Brown said he hoped they will be the first of many in the Premier League 2 this season: “I want to try to get ten goals in the league and then see what happens and kick on from there”.
Brown was also full of praise for teammate Billy Gilmour, who was instrumental in their performance: “He was top class, he’s always excellent for us and it’s a real bonus having him play for us.”
“Obviously he’s been playing with the first team as well so he deserves that,” said the 20-year-old.
Andy Myers’ Chelsea side maintained their unbeaten run at the top of the table and currently sit one point ahead of Derby County. Meanwhile Arsenal slip down to fourth place below Everton and now look forward to a North London derby away next Friday.