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Reserves vs Stoke

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(report from the Chelsea website)


Posted on: Tue 24 Feb 2009

Chelsea reserves succumbed to a tough Stoke side this evening, despite controlling the run of play throughout the game.

Domination during the 90 minutes was not enough to secure a Chelsea win, and a dubious penalty decision allowed the hosts to take an undeserved lead against a travelling Chelsea side.

Paul Clement made a few changes to the side which faced Portsmouth, and, after scoring in the dying minutes of last week's 6-0 thumping, Frank Nouble begun tonight's game, his first start for the reserves this season.

Ricardo Quaresma also started, as he is ineligible to play tomorrow night's first team clash with Juventus, alongside Adam Phillip, who achieved his first reserve start.

Clement gave Lee Sawyer, who recently returned from a loan spell with Coventry City, a start in midfield while Liam Bridcutt led the side from a defence unchanged from last week.

As the game kicked off it was Stoke who were first to threaten as Liam Lawrence sent two shots wide within the first five minutes.

It wasn't long before Chelsea took the lead though, as Patrick van Aanholt launched a shot from 25 yards out, forcing Steve Simonsen to deflect the ball into Jacob Mellis' path, the midfielder then tapped home from close range, 1-0 Chelsea with 12 minutes gone.

A period of equal play followed as Stoke attempted to close the deficit, but Chelsea broke the trend when Phillip stole the ball before lobbing Simonsen from the edge of the box. Unfortunately, his initial tackle on Stephen Kelly was deemed a foul and the goal was disallowed.

With the half-hour mark gone, Mellis had twice come close to increasing Chelsea's lead, but each shot missed its target by a matter of inches, but the Blues were in control as Niclas Heimann watched from the posts.

Lawrence then evened the scores on the stroke of half time after the referee decided Heimann had held onto a goal-kick ball for too long and awarded Stoke a free-kick inside the box.

Stoke's most dangerous player then sent a shot bouncing through the wall and beyond Heimann's reach into the bottom right, equalising for the hosts only seconds before the break.

With the restart underway, the referee dubiously decided Tom Taiwo had hand-balled inside the box, despite appeals from the Blues. Lawrence was then on hand to convert from the spot, chipping over a diving Heimann and giving Stoke an undeserved lead in the 47th minute.

Chelsea continued to battle though, and with six minutes of the half played, Sawyer smashed a shot from the edge of the box with his second touch, sending the ball screaming into the top right, 2-2.

The Blues were dominating the second half as they had the first, and the score was an unfair depiction of the game. However, Stoke were back in the lead with 61 minutes gone when Taiwo deflected an attempted through-ball into the path of Limchael Tonge, who fired an incredible shot into the net from 25 yards out. Once again, Stoke had stolen a lead against the run of play.

Chelsea continued to attack, as Mellis, Quaresma and Van Aanholt all sent chances flying off target as the final 15 minutes began.

Despite all of Chelsea's shots, Simonsen had been largely untested between the Stoke posts. As the game drew to a close and Chelsea continued to flood the final third of the pitch, the failure to create an end product meant Stoke were able to maintain their lead.

The final act of the game saw substitute Louis Moult use a counter-attack to break into Chelsea's box before bouncing a shot off the post, but as the deflection flew back toward his path, he cut Nana Ofori-Twumasi to the ground. The Chelsea man then clashed with Moult over the challenge and was shown a yellow card for his efforts.

Seconds later Quaresma was also shown the yellow as tempers flared inside the Chelsea camp. It was an unfortunate end to an unfair score-line at the Britannia Stadium.

Chelsea FC (4-3-3): Niclas Heimann; Tom Taiwo, Nana Ofori-Twumasi, Liam Bridcutt ©, Patrick van Aanholt; Jacob Mellis, Mineiro, Lee Sawyer (Daniel Philliskirk 88); Adam Phillip (Jacopo Sala 84), Frank Nouble, Ricardo Quaresma.

Stoke City (4-5-1): Steve Simonsen; Stephen Kelly, Andy Griffin, Ibrahima Sonko, Leon Cort; Liam Lawrence (Marc Grocott 57), Seyi Olofinjana, Limchael Tonge, Jimmy Phillips (Louis Moult 78), Carl Dickinson; Dave Kitson.

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