Chelsea Development Squad manager Joe Edwards has highlighted the second half dismissal of West Ham United defender Olatunji Akinola as one of the catalysts to his side’s 2-1 win over the East Londoners in the Premier League 2.
The Blues needed the one-man advantage to finally see off a well-organised West Ham United side at The Chigwell Construction Stadium in Dagenham.
Billy Gilmour gave Chelsea an early lead from the penalty spot before Joe Powell scored from 12 yards himself at the other end for the hosts. Blues striker Charlie Brown’s low effort in the second half ultimately won the three points for the South West Londoners after West Ham United’s Akinola had been dismissed for a second silly booking.
Speaking to the Chelsea Presser after the match, Blues boss Edwards admitted that the sending off was a key moment in the game for his side.
“We started the game a bit cagey, even though we got the first goal” Edwards admitted. “We were sloppy with some of our play.
“We had a game plan to get the ball into our number nine’s feet and West Ham United had a problems with that and their players picked up bookings in the first half.
“We talked about continuing to do that and the lad picks up a second booking in the second half and it is a turning point in the game.
“We quickly got the goal and we should’ve got more if I’m honest but we had to ride out some pressure in the end.”
Star striker Daishawn Redan had a quiet afternoon in which he failed to find many clear sights of goal but the player’s pace and trickery caused plenty of panic amongst the home defence.
Speaking about the player’s performance, manager Edwards said “West Ham tried to press us and we couldn’t play it out from our own box, we had to be a bit more direct.
“I wanted my number nine (Redan) to get in the right positions but also to be there and hold the ball up for us.
“The red card came as a result of us asking questions of how they could cope with our two strikers.”
Match referee Tom Reeves was quick to award both sides penalty kicks and Edwards was brutally honest in his assessment of the two decisions.
“I thought both decisions were a little harsh” admitted Edwards.
“If you look at our penalty, it still looked a little reckless in the way that he put in the challenge but it could’ve gone either way.
“For the second penalty, I thought Marc (Guehi) defended really well against a difficult opponent in the box.
“I didn’t think he had fouled him but the referee disagreed. I haven’t seen it back if I’m honest.”
The result leaves Chelsea level on points with Arsenal at the top of the Premier League 2 table. The Gunners boast a better goal difference and have therefore claimed top spot.