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Chelsea u18s 2 Rovers u18s 1

24 April 2017

Rovers' Under-18s narrowly went down 2-1 to title-chasing Chelsea on Saturday.

After keeping their hosts at bay in the first half, Rovers grabbed the opening goal early in the second through Brad Lynch.

Chelsea equalised soon afterwards through Martell Taylor-Crossdale, but were then reduced to ten men when Tariq Lamptey handled on the line, however Callum Wright saw his penalty strike the post.

The game could have gone either way in the closing stages but the unfortunate Ben Blackburn diverted a Chelsea cross into the net to hand the points to the home side.

It was a patched up Rovers side that made the long journey to Cobham, and they struggled to come to terms with their hosts in a one-sided first half.

But a strong defensive display, backed up by good goalkeeping from Matt Campbell prevented Chelsea from getting on the scoresheet.

However Billy Barr's side ended the half the better, and they could have gone in at the break in front thanks to a fantastic strike from Lynch.

Breaking three on three, Lynch carried the ball from inside his own half before letting fly from fully 30-yards out, but whilst his shot beat the Chelsea keeper, the ball came back off the crossbar.

Rovers started strongly after the turnaround and got their reward just seven minutes in.

Excellent pressure from Callum Hendry forced the hosts into playing a square ball across their backline to where Lynch pounced and clipped a brilliantly executed left-footed effort over the keeper and into the net.

But the lead would last just five minutes. A Chelsea corner was only cleared as far as the edge of the box and Taylor-Crossdale diverted home Charlie Brown's strike.

The goal rocked Rovers briefly but they kept going and were handed the chance to regain the lead soon after.

Wright saw his goalbound shot stopped on the line by the hand of Tariq Lamptey. The Chelsea man received his marching orders, but Wright's penalty hit the post and bounced away to safety.

Rovers continued to have chances as Wright and Hendry both went close, but it was the home side who grabbed the all-important winner nine minutes from time, albeit in fortunate circumstances.

Despite being a man light, a breakaway from Chelsea saw a cross from Callum Hudson-Odoi deflect into the back of the net off the shins of Blackburn. 

Rovers pressed for a way back to the end, but just came up short against their highly-rated hosts.

"As a staff we've come away, even though we've been beat, we were quite pleased with how we played," said Barr.

"Because of the progression of our players through the football club we've been training with only seven players, so with all the preparation that we've had to do the performance was pleasing for us.

"We've spoke to the lads and they're distraught we've not gone to Chelsea and won, but it all helps their development."

ROVERS: Campbell, Jackson, C. Doyle, Blackburn, Evans, Mols, Buckley, Wright, Lynch, Hendry (sub Carter 85 mins), Dolan (sub O'Brien 60 mins).

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