Match Reports

Report | Battling Town denied late comeback by Chelsea


Town 2Barkley 80, Adebayo 87

Chelsea 3Palmer 12, 70, Madueke 37

There was a point in this game, shortly before Chelsea made it 3-0 through Cole Palmer’s second of the match, in which you felt ‘if the Town can get one, they’ll get another’ – such was the Hatters’ dominance of a match that seemed to be ebbing away from their grasp.

Yet Palmer’s cooly taken goal came with 20 minutes left on the clock and put the Blues firmly on course for three points after a run of three straight defeats on the road. It added to his opener in the 11th minute, profiting on a misplaced pass from Issa Kabore, and Noni Madueke, who struck a thunderbolt on 37 minutes.

While Chelsea defended well and been clinical when chances came their way were coasting to victory, it was 3-0 but it was never a three-nil.

But then came the final 16 minutes. If there is a more admirable performance of the Hatters’ first season in the Premier League then this was it as Rob Edwards’ side kept going in the face of adversity. It was testament to a never-say-die attitude of a group of players.

Dangerous throughout but without finding that final killer pass or finish, suddenly everything came to life as the clock struck 74 minutes.

Moments after Palmer had impudently got that third goal the Town thought they were back in the game when Elijah Adebayo headed home Alfie Doughty’s cross. However, VAR wanted a look, and Doughty was adjudged to have been ahead of play and the goal was chalked off.

But rarely do Hatters heads drop.

With ten minutes to play Adebayo was cursing his luck once more, the crossbar left rattling after his header had beaten Dorde Petrovic following Chiedozie Ogbene’s right-wing cross. Somehow, still 3-0.

Thirty seconds later the Town’s gallant efforts were finally rewarded when Doughty’s right-wing corner was nodded into the corner of the net by Ross Barkley.

‘If they can get one, they’ll get another’…

Having looked comfortable, Chelsea panicked. And the Town sensed blood. The visitors were on the ropes and with five minutes left of the 90 Petrovic produced a remarkable fingertip save to deny Carlton Morris’ diving header from going in off the bar.

Undeterred, this group never know when they’re beaten. With three minutes left on the clock, Kenilworth Road was on its feet again urging an equaliser after Adebayo got the Town to within one when he pounced from close range to make it 3-2.

Chasing an improbable equaliser, Adebayo almost got a toe to the ball when well-placed in the box, Barkley – again magnificent – produced a sensational flick to find Tahith Chong only for the substitute to see his cross blocked.

It was heady stuff. Pulsating. Wave after wave of Town attacks continued to have Chelsea retreating. The danger kept coming. So did the crosses. So did the noise from the home faithful.

Sadly there’s no Hollywood ending to this story. Six minutes of injury time came and went and Chelsea hung on but only just.

Spirit, skill and – according to the manager – the best performance he’s ever had. High praise. Deserved praise.

It’s a defeat on paper but not as you know it. Another display to be proud of and plenty of positives against a side brimming with world class stars, it marked the half-way point in the Town’s season. It’s been a wonderful ride so far – and if the last 14 minutes of this was anything to go by, we’re in for a rollercoaster second half of the campaign.

See you next time.

Town: Kaminski; Kaboré (sub Ogbene 46), Doughty, Mengi, Osho, Bell; Lokonga (sub Woodrow 90+4), Barkley; Townsend (sub Morris 62) , Brown (sub Chong 46), Adebayo.

Subs not used: Krul, Andersen, Mpanzu, Clark, Giles.

Attendance: 11,041, including 1,151 from Chelsea

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