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Under 18s: Chelsea v Norwich 11/12/2010


Eton Blue at the Chelsea Megastore

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From the official site:

YOUTH REPORT: CHELSEA 5 NORWICH CITY 1

Billy Clifford, fresh from travelling with the first team to Marseille, netted a hat-trick as the Under 18s ended their 2010 fixtures in style.

Todd Kane and Milan Lalkovic were the other scorers in what would have been a warm-up for the start of the FA Youth Cup defence had the match at Sunderland not been postponed until January.

Against a Norwich side who had started the game third in Chelsea's section of the Academy League, the young Blues found chances easy to come by.

Although the finishing sometimes let them down and misfortune got in the way, two of Clifford's goals were deflected en route while Kane and Lalkovic hit unstoppable shots. Norwich pulled a goal back during their best spell in the second half but by that time Chelsea were already three goals to the good.

In the opening minutes, Chelsea central defenders Nathaniel Chalobah and Archange Nkumu stood up strong to an attack by Josh Dawkin. Then Anton Rodgers was in the right place to clear a corner as the visitors began the game on top.

Ryan Oakley then put the ball over from only a couple of yards out after Chelsea failed to deal with a cross from deep.

On eight minutes a poor Norwich clearance fell to Clifford for Chelsea's first effort on goal but the shot was scuffed wide.

No such mistake from the 18-year-old with his second chance however as he slammed his side into the lead on 12 minutes, George Saville winning possession and Lalkovic attacking before passing to the midfielder for a sweet strike past the keeper via a deflection.

Norwich wasted a chance for a quick equaliser before hard-battling Saville shot wide and Rodgers curled a free-kick just past the post as Dermot Drummy's side pressed for a second.

On 23 minutes, Norwich right-back Dean Florence was booked for barging Bobby Devyne to the floor in an airborne challenge.

Deyvne really should have scored after Aziz Deen-Conteh had attacked from left-back and done well to beat his opposing full-back and cross.

On 30 minutes Chalobah glided forward from defence with the ball and found Clifford in the box but a shot on the stretch rolled wide. Chelsea had to settle for a 1-0 lead to take into the dressing room at half-time.

It was Clifford again who nearly found the net four minutes into the second half, his top-corner-bound shot flapped wide by the Norwich keeper. From the corner that followed there was an almightly scramble before Lalkovic was unlucky to hit the only defender on the line with his effort.

On 54 minutes an exceptional strike by Kane did put some daylight between the sides. There was no obvious threat to the Norwich goal when he took possession but making room inside his marker he connected perfectly from outside the area to leave the keeper grasping at air.

It was the sixth youth team goal of the season for the 17-year-old, today playing wide right in the front three. He is enjoying a good first season as a full-time scholar.

There was a smart save at the near post by Jamal Blackman from Norwich centre-forward Dawkin on the hour while at the other end, Saville, shortly after escaping a booking for clattering into Sam Habergham, would have scored had it not been for a deflection

On 67 minutes a deflection did go Chelsea's way. It was Clifford letting loose a shot from the edge of the area and it looped off a defender to give the keeper no chance. That made it 3-0.

Blackman made a close-range block to keep Norwich out but then didn't have strong enough hands when he got a touch on a low shot from Remy Gordon to keep it out the net. Norwich had a goal back with 18 minutes to play.

The Canaries missed chances before the end as Chelsea lost grip of the game for a spell and substitute Chae Simons should certainly have scored.

However on 87 minutes Clifford made it 4-1 to Chelsea from the penalty spot.

He often plays right-back but in midfield today, he nutmegged Florence before setting up substitute Adam Nditi for chance that was originally saved but then the keeper fouled as he challenged Nditi for the loose ball.

Clifford, not a penalty-taker normally, was allowed to complete his hat-trick confidently.

Kane could have scored a second but shot wide after a long run before a minute into stoppage time, Lalkovic, centre-forward rather than his more usually wing role, finished expertly from the left after Rodgers' long pass had left the Canaries' defence trailing in the Slovakian's wake.

'It was a good performance,' praised youth team manager Drummy.

'Billy Clifford loves to play in midfield so he really enjoyed that. The midfield was superb tactically first-half, Billy and George Saville getting forward and Anton Rodgers keeping the ball. The defence started off a little bit iffy with Nathaniel Chalobah but then he looked outstanding and started breaking through.

'Ben Sampayo was dogged at the back and the work ethic was fantastic. Toddy has scored a wonder goal again and Milan Lalkovic will probably tell you it wasn't his best game but he still finished with a goal.

'We made changes and brought Chalobah off because of a little tightness in the hamstring and Saville because he might have been sent off but it is nice now that the players can have a bit of a break.'

Chelsea (4-3-3): Jamal Blackman; Ben Sampayo ©, Nathaniel Chalobah (Alex Davey 58), Archange Nkumu, Aziz Deen-Conteh; Billy Clifford, Anton Rodgers, George Saville (Lewis Baker 70); Bobby Devyne (Adam Nditi 62), Milan Lalkovic, Todd Kane.

Norwich (4-3-3): Remi Matthews; Florence Dean, Theo Jones, Sam Habergham, Remy Gordon; Reece Hall-Johnson, Matthew Ball ©, Michael Clunan (Harry Barker 62); Ryan Oakley (Chae Simons 62), Josh Dawkin, Alex Stephens (Harry Toffolo 68).

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