Stoke City Under-21s 0
Chelsea Under-21s 3 (Christensen 5, Kiwomya 60, Baker 89)
STOKE CITY'S hopes of finishing their Barclays Under-21s Premier League campaign on a high were dashed on Friday evening as they slipped to a 3-0 home defeat at the hands of Chelsea.
In front of a healthy gathering at the Britannia Stadium it was the visitors who dominated for long periods and deservedly took home all three points after displaying a cutting edge.
City demonstrated a number of good passing moves but in the end were unable to breakdown a Blues defence which had kept three clean sheets heading into the fixture.
On a mild evening in the Potteries it was the visitors who started on the front foot and after Reece Mitchell was denied at point-blank range by a superb reaction save from Daniel Bachmann, the Austrian ‘keeper will feel disappointed not to have dealt with Chelsea’s next attack as they took the lead in the 5th minute.
The Potters conceded a free-kick just inside their own half and after Lewis Baker played the ball deep inside the Stoke penalty area, defender Andreas Christensen beat Bachmann to the ball and headed in from close range.
Chelsea continued to have the lion’s share of possession, but it was City who went closest to levelling matters inside the opening quarter of the game when Alex Grant’s header trickled wide of the far post before Adam Thomas curled a 25-yard free-kick just over.
Despite their superior possession statistics the Blues failed to really threaten the Stoke goal until just before the interval when Bachmann more than made up for his early error to push away Marco Van Ginkel’s long-distance drive, before reacting magnificently to thwart Isaiah Brown’s follow up.
City then had a golden opportunity to pull themselves level just seconds before the referee’s whistle for half time but Peter Skapetis was unable to capitalise as he directed his close-range header straight at Mitchell Beeney in the Chelsea goal.
Glyn Hodges’ side carried their positive response at the end of the first half into the second period and after French midfielder Eddy Lecygne fired a 45-yard free-kick over, Skapetis went even closer when he found space on the edge-of-the-area before screwing an effort just wide of the keeper’s left-hand post.
Stoke’s early pressure wasn’t to last however and the Blues doubled their advantage with their first meaningful attack of the half as Alex Kiwomya latched onto John Swift’s defence splitting ball before rounding Bachmann and firing into an empty net.
The Potters tried to find a way back into the contest by playing some delightful football at times, but in the end their efforts were in vain as the Blues made it three in the final minute through Lewis Baker who fired a fierce shot past Bachmann from just inside the City penalty area.
Stoke City: Bachmann, Wheeler, O’Reilly, Ward, Grant, Watkins, Thomas, Lecygne, Skapetis (Rossi), Monlouis (Pappas 75), Taylor (Cook 72). Unused: Eve, Sanders.
Chelsea: Beeney, Ssewankambo, Davey, Christensen, Nditi, Van Ginkel (Cheek 70), Kiwomya, Baker, Brown (Dabo 57), Swift, Mitchell. Unused: Collins, Musonda, Houghton.