David Wilson reports from Dalymount Park
After a fast opening start from the Blues you’d be forgiven for thinking that Wednesday’s game could have turned into a rout, however credit to this plucky Bohemians side as they got to grips with their English counterparts, grinding out a confidence-building 1-1 draw.
Frank Lampard’s first outing as Chelsea manager saw him face Keith Long’s Bohemians team at the home of Irish football, Dalymount Park.
Chelsea, who have been training in Carton House, have 35 players along with a whole host of coaching staff in Ireland this week as Lampard looks to piece together his squad for the coming season.
Cesar Azpilicueta captained the side as other first-team players such as Pedro and Willy Caballero featured in the first 11.
Fringe players, as well as players who have been out on loan previously, featured from the off as Danny Drinkwater, Michy Batshuayi, Ethan Ampadu and Kenedy all aimed to prove their worth to their new boss.
Bohs fielded a strong side as, due to European football, they are without a fixture on Friday. Danny Mandriou, Darragh Leahy, Keith Buckley, James Talbot and Michael Barker all started for the Gypsies.
With only eight minutes gone Batshuayi became the first goal scorer of the Lampard era. A dragged effort from Kenedy was blocked by James Finnerty, before the ball fell right to the feet of the ex-Valencia striker and he made no mistake as he finished high to the roof of the net, leaving Talbot with no chance.
Three minutes later, Batshuayi looked to add a second after a Mandriou pass rebounded into his path 25 yards from goal, only to be denied by an excellent last-ditch tackle from Finnerty.
Chelsea now took control with a double pivot at the base of their midfield in Danny Drinkwater and Ethan Ampadu. Their slick passing penned in this young Bohs side as Lampard’s men applied pressure.
Bohs' best outlet was the diagonal pass to Luke Wade-Slater as his pace troubled Kenedy, who was playing in an unfamiliar left full-back position.
The under-23 contingent of Conor Gallagher and Kasey Palmer for the Londoners looked dangerous. Their slick movement and neat link-up play caused the home side problems and just before the half-hour mark Gallagher blazed over from a Batshuayi pull-back.
As the half wore on Ampadu showed the quality which destroyed Ireland whilst playing for Wales in the UEFA Nations League, his range of passing both long and short off both feet worth the entry fee alone.
Bohs held firm however, and Talbot wasn’t tested before the halft-ime whistle.
Bohs made only two changes at half-time bringing on Keith Ward for the impressive Mandroiu, whilst Wade-Slater was replaced by Dawson Devoy.
However, the Chelsea coaching contingent decided to change all 11 players at the break. French international Kurt Zouma captained the side, with youngsters Billy Gilmour and Ian Maatsen making their first appearances for the Blues' first team.
It didn’t take long for the young Scot Gilmour to go close. A pull-back from the perennial loannee Lucas Piazon allowed Gilmour to attempt a finish from 8-yards but he was closed down well by Finnerty.
In the 51st minute Tiemoue Bakayoko stung the palms of Talbot with a fierce half-volley after a poor Bohs defensive clearance.
The brightest player on the pitch, Gilmour, excelled playing in the number ten position. After another low cross from Piazon, the maestro faked with his right foot before placing a left footed shot low to Talbot’s right, but the ‘keeper got down well and pushed the ball around the post.
With important fixtures around the corner for the Northsiders, Long looked to give some game time to some fringe players along with the introduction of young talent.
Paddy Kirk, Conor Levingston, Scott Allardice and Kevin Devaney all came on just before the hour, all hoping to impress.
The game now began to resemble the usual performance from the home side as they knocked the ball around well and continually beat the Chelsea high press.
Leahy, Kirk, Talbot and Finnerty played some lovely football out from the back before Ward aimed to play trialist Andre Wright down the channel, however Zouma covered well and snuffed out any attempt on goal.
Prodigious young talent Evan Ferguson who is only 14 years of age replaced trialist Wright who did well in glimpses as the former Gloucester City man looks to continue his career in Ireland.
Bohs, brimming with confidence, looked to get an equaliser as they had been the better side in the second half. Kirk swung in some deep crosses which were defended adequately, while Devaney and Ward looked bright.
A host of changes were made in the closing stages as Sean Bohan, Alex Kelly, Mitch Byrne and James Funge all saw game time. Trialist Eric Molloy, who has previously played in the Club World Cup with Team Wellington also looked to show what he could do in front of the 3,600 who had packed into Dalymount.
Again, 14-year-old Ferguson looked dangerous, his weaving run which dazzled the Chelsea defenders nearly resulted in a goal as his effort just drifted wide of Jamie Cumming’s post.
In the 89th minute the home fans were sent into raptures as Molloy smashed one past Cumming in the Chelsea goal. Ward drove through the midfield before finding Molloy out wide, Ferguson doing excellently as he stepped over the ball, before Molloy superbly rifled one home before performing the most acrobatic of celebrations, somersaulting into the distance.
Immediately, the Blues nearly went back in front. Funge feathered at a clearance, before Davide Zappacosta played the ball into Gilmour who was closed well by Bohan. Izzy Brown then flashed a cross straight across the six-yard box but somehow wasn’t finished by Ike Ugbo as the home side cleared eventually.
For Lampard’s men, there is much more improvement to do before the new season starts with a trip to Istanbul to face Liverpool in the Super Cup. With the inability to make signings due to a transfer ban, Lampard and assistant coach Jody Morris will have to get the best out of these players as delving into the transfer market is forbidden.
On the other hand, Long and Trevor Croly will be delighted with the stern test that the Blues provided them with, and they will now hope to bring this good performance into their league form over then next few weeks.
Bohemians: James Talbot (GK) (Sean Bohan 79); Derek Pender (C) (Paddy Kirk 59), Michael Barker (Alex Kelly 85), James Finnerty (Mitch Byrne 85), Darragh Leahy (Jack Funge 88); Keith Buckley (Conor Levingston 59), Robbie McCourt (Scott Allardice 59), Luke Wade-Slater (Dawson Devoy 46) (Eric Molloy 79) Danny Mandriou (Keith Ward 46) Ryan Graydon (Kevin Devaney 59); Andre Wright (Trialist) (Evan Ferguson 67)
Unused Substitutes: Sean Bohan (GK), Sam Byrne, Ryan Swan, Promise Omochere
Chelsea: Willy Caballero (GK), Dujon Sterling, Cesar Azpilicueta (C), Marc Guehi, Kenedy; Danny Drinkwater, Ethan Ampadu; Pedro Rodriguez, Conor Gallagher, Kasey Palmer, Michy Batshuayi
2nd half: Jamie Cumming (GK), Davide Zappacosta, Trevoh Chalobah, Kurt Zouma, Ian Maatsen; Tiemoue Bakayoko, Lewis Baker; Lucas Piazon, Billy Gilmour, Izzy Brown; Ike Ugbo
Referee: Neil Doyle
Extratime.ie Player of the Match: James Finnerty (Bohemians)