Chelsea Under-23s ended their three-game losing streak, defeating Derby County Under-23s 1-0 in Premier League 2.

Conor Gallagher grabbed the only goal of the encounter on the stroke of half-time to earn Joe Edwards’ side a valuable victory.

A chilly evening sparked to life as Tariq Uwakwe unleashed a speculative volley, routine in the end for Derby goalkeeper Josh Barnes. The same attempt and result came at the other end, Alex Babos with the try this time around for the hosts.

Derby’s defence limited Chelsea chances in and around the penalty box, Uwakwe letting fly from range to force one of many fine stops from Barnes.

Chelsea very nearly gift-wrapped Derby the lead, Jamie Cummings’ poor clearance fell straight to Cameron Cresswell. Shooting without taking a touch, the ball bypassed the post by inches as the visitors breathed a sigh of relief.

As if the hosts hadn’t learnt from Chelsea’s calamity, Gallagher was gifted possession deep in Derby territory. As the midfielder turned to strike, Barnes came bearing from his line to deny the close-range shot.

After a Barnes barricade, the Blues finally broke down his barrier in the 44th minute. Juan Castillo came out on top as he beat his man out wide, crossing low to locate the on-rushing Gallagher who finished first time to break the deadlock.

Chelsea picked up where they left off with a flurry of flowing football, beginning with Gallagher. Starting from inside their territory, a swift set of interchanges allowed Daishawn Redan a sight of goal only for Barnes to block once again.

Cumming was called into action on several occasions, parrying various crosses clear to maintain his clean sheet.

George McEachran forced a final stop from Barnes, low to his right; without his contribution, Chelsea could have been well clear.

Derby huffed and puffed without any reward as Chelsea ran down the clock and the end result. Edwards and his squad move up to fifth in the division, with the visit of bottom side Swansea City on the horizon.

By Nathaniel Kay

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