Cambridge United U15s/16s were edged out 2-1 by Chelsea’s U16s in another enjoyable and well supported academy fixture at the Abbey Stadium, with over 450 in attendance.
The young U’s side, clearly buoyed by another strong backing from the Amber Army, raced into an early lead when a well-placed free kick delivery off the left of the Chelsea area was headed home at close range inside two minutes.
United remained good for their lead as the first half progressed to the midway stage, before the United keeper did well to push a shot wide in a one-on-one situation. However, there was little he could do to stop a fine Chelsea mid-range effort moments later that curled into the top right corner to level the scores on 24 minutes.
The Blues began to gain momentum for the remainder of the first half and could have taken a lead of their own, were it not for an excellent save from the U’s shot stopper, who stretched out low to his right to palm away a shot which looked destined for the United net.
The class of the U’s opponents showed soon after the half time break though, when they broke into the United area from the right before smashing a shot across goal into the bottom corner from an acute angle 10 yards out.
United continued to contest well with the Blues and were backed fervently by the home support, but did begin to run short on steam going forward as the game approached the final quarter. Chelsea came close to extending their lead when striking the foot of the post before the rebound was connected with firmly and saw an outstanding save high to the U’s keeper’s left, which proved to be the last foray of note in the contest.
Cambridge United’s Youth Development Phase Lead Coach, Luke Chadwick commented: “It was another great occasion for the Club. We had an incredible start to the game and could not have really have asked for much more when scoring so early on.
“Obviously we had prepared in the lead up to the fixture to face the quality of opposition that Chelsea provided, and we knew we faced long periods of being out of possession where we needed to scrap for the ball. First half I felt we did that well, and on the back of that managed to get in good positions where the final ball probably wasn’t quite there.
“Having put so much effort into the first half, we were slightly disappointed in the second half where we didn’t really have the legs to press and then threaten Chelsea.
“Overall, it was another positive night for the Football Club, it’s always great for these young boys to play on this wonderful pitch in front of the fans.”