Read the story of our under-18s' league defeat at Cobham on Tuesday afternoon.
Our under-18s’ title hopes are now out of their hands after they slipped to a 3-1 defeat against Chelsea on Tuesday.
The result sees our London rivals leapfrog us into top spot in the U-18 Premier League, two points clear with one game to play.
Cole Dasilva and Trevor Chalobah gave the hosts a two-goal lead before Eddie Nketiah pulled one back, but substitute Martell Taylor-Crossdale ensured the three points would remain in Cobham with a powerful low finish.
It means our under-18s must win their final game of the season at West Ham United on Saturday, and hope for anything but a Chelsea win in their clash with Reading.
SETTING THE SCENE
Joao Virginia once more started in goal behind an unchanged back four of Jordi Osei-Tutu, Joseph Olowu, Zech Medley and Tolaji Bola.
Josh Dasilva captained our side alongside Marcus McGuane at the base of midfield, with Joe Willock and Donyell Malen, fresh from under-23 action at Emirates Stadium, providing the attacking threat.
Reiss Nelson and Nketiah, who both started and scored in the Premier League draw against Manchester United fewer than 24 hours before, completed an exciting front line.
Vlad Dragomir, who made an impact from the bench in that game, was named among the substitutes.
Although we had the chance to seal the title, it was the hosts who started the stronger side, with Harvey St Clair and Chalobah threatening from Mason Mount’s early crosses.
Chelsea would make the most of their next centre, though, with Dasilva racing on to Dujon Sterling’s cross to fire a left-footed strike beyond Virginia.
Malen’s goalbound shot was blocked, Nelson curled a free-kick inches wide and Nketiah had his strike ruled out for offside but, despite us looking likely to level, it was Chelsea who would find the net again.
Mount swung in another corner from the right-hand side and this time Chalobah’s thumping header beat Virginia at the near post.
Buoyed by Kwame Ampadu’s half-time team talk, we came flying out of the interval and halved the deficit just five minutes after the restart, with Nketiah converting Willock’s cross from close range.
Now with a foothold in the game, we continued to test Chelsea’s Marcin Bulka. First the goalkeeper saved from Dragomir before our Romanian forward volleyed narrowly over the crossbar.
Dragomir’s best chance was to come when he flashed a header off target, and our under-18s would soon be made to pay for their profligacy.
Substitute Taylor-Crosgdale collected the ball just inside our area and drilled a low effort past Virginia to restore the hosts’ two-goal lead and secure all three points for Chelsea.
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