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Chelsea 7 Blackpool 2

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Posted on: Mon 14 Mar 2011

The reserves recorded a stunning 7-2 home victory against Blackpool on Monday afternoon, despite being a man down for more than 80 minutes.

Daniel Pappoe's early dismissal looked like it would seriously damage the Blues' chances of a win when the away side took the lead from the penalty spot, but first-half goals from Adam Phillip and Fabio Borini, followed by an own goal gave us an unexpected but well-deserved half-time advantage.

A quickfire fourth cancelled out Blackpool's second that came just after half-time when Milan Lalkovic scored a fine individual effort, and from there Steve Holland's men were coasting, Phillip claiming a second before Billy Clifford and Todd Kane completed the scoring to make it five league games unbeaten.

Holland was able to call upon fit-again Ryan Bertrand to add experience to his back four at left-back, while Borini continued up front having notched in two of his previous three appearances. Visitors Blackpool had goalkeeper Matthew Gilks, a Premier League regular prior to injury, forward Sergei Kornilenko and young winger Matt Phillips all in their line-up.

Borini was the first player to have a sight of goal, firing hard at Gilks, before rare controversy at reserve team level.

Play was underway in the Chelsea half when the assistant flagged, signalling a penalty. Centre-back Pappoe received a red card, having clashed with forward Kornilenko, and Malaury Martin stroked home the spot kick with the minimum of fuss, Sam Walker static on his line.

Just eight minutes had passed and already Chelsea needed to alter things, Nathaniel Chalobah dropping back to cover in defence, with wingers Lalkovic and Phillip forced to drop deeper into midfield, Borini the lone front man.

Blackpool were not without their own problems though, and just 14 minutes in Gilks had to be replaced, seemingly suffering with the knee injury that has kept him out since November.

Borini crossed and Lalkovic headed tamely at replacement Elliot Tarney before Phillip converted Chelsea's equaliser on 19 minutes.

Slack defending presented Clifford with the ball inside the Blackpool box and he intelligently squared inside, where Phillip controlled and shot low into the bottom corner with his left foot.

The feat was almost repeated within five minutes when this time Borini pulled back, but this time the former Yeovil Town loanee's drive was beaten away by Tarney, but it would not take long for the Blues to go in front.

Once again it was Borini, his fifth in four games, who would give us the advantage, latching on to Lalkovic's through ball and finishing with conviction into the far corner.

It was almost three moments later, Phillip bursting through with some fine close control, before the loose ball fell for Clifford, who beat Tarney to the ball with a lunge, but could only poke it agonisingly wide of the post. Consolation though could be found with the knowledge that Chelsea looked like scoring with every attack, whereas Blackpool were barely threatening despite their numeric advantage.

On the half-hour the third arrived, Lalkovic making a break after winning possession down the right, beating his man and sending a dangerous cross into the area. Truthfully, Borini probably wouldn't have made it to the ball before the goalkeeper, so defender Chris Basham's diving interception looked unnecessary, and more so once he had served only to send the ball past his goalkeeper and into the net.

A goal and a man down inside 10 minutes, the Blues had responded excellently and were carrying out Holland's instructions perfectly.

Another rapid break nearly brought a fourth goal, Lalkovic outpacing his marker and crossing only for Basham to this time clear efficiently and deny Borini a tap in.

The Slovakian then came close himself but saw his shot cleared off the line, and just before half-time Bertrand smashed into the side netting after Phillip had slipped him a quick free-kick.

Five minutes into the second period Blackpool halved the deficit, captain Liam Tomsett pulling back from the by-line for Kornilenko to finish, but their hopes would last only a couple of minutes.

Lalkovic, who had tormented the visitors for most of the first half, clearly fancied a goal of his own, and claimed it after cutting in from the left and working his way past a series of challenges before shooting home from the edge of the box on his weaker left foot.

Twenty minutes into the second half Chelsea were looking comfortable once more, dominating possession and looking the more likely to add to their total. Phillip was worked in by Clifford once more but was denied by a smart save, while at the other end Kornilenko sliced high.

Just after 70 minutes the lead was extended when Walker's clearance found Lalkovic on halfway. His persistence, though he lost the ball, allowed Phillip to race clear with time to pick his spot, bending calmly into the far corner beyond the exposed Tarney, who by now must have been cursing his luck.

With time ticking and legs surely tiring, Chelsea were still looking by far the more sturdy defensively, two defensive banks of four well marshalled by Tomas Kalas and Chalobah in defence, and the disciplined Kaby in midfield, whose willingness to sit deep was allowing the energetic Clifford to join attacks and help get the ball in behind Blackpool's backline.

Clifford got his reward with just over 10 minutes remaining. Phillip had brought down a long ball excellently and laid inside for Borini, who drove towards Blackpool's ragged defence before spotting Clifford's run and picking him out. The 18-year-old still had plenty to do but took control, rounded Tarney and slotted home, rounding off a superb move that had started in Walker's hands.

Holland's men were not done yet though, and Clifford turned from scorer to architect, waiting and waiting inside the Blackpool half until Todd Kane had motored past him demanding the ball, timing his run to perfection to avoid offside, bringing down the lofted pass, rounding the goalkeeper and making it seven.

Blackpool seemed to have given up, defensively at least, though Kornilenko still looked a handful, and should have pulled a goal back from close range, instead turning a low cross onto the crossbar and back into play.

Phillip thought he had rolled home his hat-trick goal only for an offside flag to cancel it out, that before his impressive afternoon was brought to an end with a couple of minutes remaining, George Saville sent on in his place to join fellow substitutes Marko Mitrovic, playing his second reserve outing after serious injury, and Aziz Deen-Conteh.

So, a second straight victory, and one achieved in entertaining fashion. It had looked unlikely after Pappoe's early dismissal, but Holland will have every right to be proud of a superb team performance.

Chelsea (4-3-3): Sam Walker; Todd Kane, Tomas Kalas, Danny Pappoe, Ryan Bertrand (sub Aziz Deen-Conteh 59); Billy Clifford, Nathaniel Chalobah, Aliu Djalo; Milan Lalkovic (sub Marko Mitrovic 80), Fabio Borini ©, Adam Phillip (sub George Saville 88).

Unused subs: Jamal Blackman, Bobby Devyne.

Edited by Scooby Blue
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