A youthful but hugely talented Chelsea side ran out 4-1 winners in an entertaining pre-season friendly against Wealdstone at The Vale on Saturday.
The visitors, skippered by Nathan Ake, scored twice in three second-half minutes to take the game just out of a spirited Wealdstone’s reach.
Striker Chris Moore gave the hosts the lead from the spot, coolly slotting home mid-way through the first half, after being hauled down by Chelsea ‘keeper Mitchell Beeney.
Isaiah Brown slotted in the West Londoners’ equaliser seconds before the break, before the effervescent Alex Kiwomya gave them the advantage moments into the second period.
Brown added his second and his team’s third minutes later, while John Swift completed the scoring late on to give Chelsea’s Under 21’s a deserved victory.
Despite the away side starting with an air of superiority, it was The Stones who had the game’s first chances, with Tom Pett and Scott McCubbin both forcing early saves from Beeney. However, the young goalkeeper’s luck wouldn’t last long, with twenty-four minutes gone the stopper conceded a penalty after grounding veteran forward Chris Moore, who duly converted with aplomb.
It was deserving and somewhat fitting that Wealdstone drew first blood, on the afternoon of the opening of their new £32,000 Bulla Stand.
As expected, Chelsea applied immediate pressure, testing the resolve of their non-league opposition, and almost came up with an immediate response, Isaiah Brown seized on Adam Martin’s error to bring the best out of Stones’ ‘keeper Jonathan North, after Islam Feruz’s cross had almost crept in.
The visitors did get themselves back on level terms shortly though, and picked the perfect time to do so. With just moments of the opening half remaining, Brown stroked the ball into the net to end a fine move involving the highly impressive Ruben Loftus-Cheek and an air-kick from luckless striker Feruz.
Things got even better for Dermot Drummy’s side after the restart, finding themselves two goals to the good within just six minutes. First, winger Alex Kiwomya capitalised on Wealdstone’s failure to clear a set-piece, side-footing into the bottom corner from twenty yards, before Brown doubled his tally after pouncing on a mistake from full-back James Hammond, still reeling from the previous goal.
A flurry of substitutions from both sides meant the sting was taken out of the game throughout much of the second-half, at least until Gordon Bartlett’s introduction of promising forward Reece Grant, who re-invigorated his teammates and the watching 1,123 inside The Vale.
The striker was both tireless and fearless in his brief cameo, and with ten minutes to go on the clock, almost got the Stones back in with a shout, cleverly latching onto Jey Siva’s chipped pass but unable to beat the narrow angle.
With the match entering its final stages and becoming far more open, the visitors were able to secure their victory. Brown this time turned provider, running at the Wealdstone backline and teeing up central midfielder John Swift for the simplest of finishes.
Wealdstone: North, Hammond, Siva, Parker, Okimo, Bailey, McCubbin, Martin, Moore, Godfrey, Pett. Subs used: Hill, Brooks, Grant, Rodrigues, Montoya- Ospin, Hutchinson, Webb. N/u: Haxhia (GK)
Match Report By Matt Desai