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Shots enjoy their Blues day

IF Terry Brown was looking for his team to be given a good pre-season work out on Monday night against Chelsea at the Rec, then that is exactly what he got, writes Alex Narey.

With the league campaign now just under two weeks away, the Shots faced some of the worlds greatest players on a fantastic night for the club where six goals were scored, with the most memorable one being bagged by a Chelsea boy wearing red.

Richard Gell, a life-long Blues fan, struck in the 88th minute to give the home fans more than something to cheer about, in a game which had been dominated by Stamford Bridge's foreign legion.

After the kick-off had been delayed due to crowd congestion outside the ground, Chelsea went about their business in the usual manner.

Neat passing and creative movement was proving a tough task for the Shots and Brown was looking more than agitated sitting on the bench.

"I thought that we paid them too much respect in the first half as we weren't attacking them enough," said Brown.

Chelsea's all round ball movement was sublime though, and any rare possession that the Shots mustered was quickly seized upon by a dominant midfield possessing the likes of Emmanuel Petit and Frank Lampard.

The quick feet of Boudewijn Zenden and Gianfranco Zola will not be something that Brown's side will have to contend with too often this season, but far too many times there were miss-timed tackles around the box which resulted in free kicks.

Fortunately for the Shots, goalkeeper Nicky Bull was on the ball between the posts.

However, in the ninth minute the Shots managed to move the ball around the pitch for the first time, resulting in a corner which skipper Jason Cousins headed just over the bar from Martin Kuhl's delivery.

New signing Paul Moody linked up well with his mid-field and looked impressive on the ball, despite having the ever presence of Marcel Desailly on his back throughout the first half.

The goal was always coming, but not before an open goal chance was missed by William Gallas, slashing at a Mario Melchiot cross fired low into the box and Zenden had forced a shot well wide of Bull's left post.

Zola though, was always on the prowl and in the 23rd minute waited patiently for Melchiot's delivery before sliding home from no more than five yards.

Despite the talent in front of him, Bull was having an impressive time between the sticks, saving well from Jimmy Floyd Hassellbaink who fired low to his left and looking confident when coming to collect Zenden's deep, swirling crosses.

On 27 minutes, Lampard, who was by now controlling the game in midfield, got the better of Kuhl and put Zenden through on the left-hand side. The Dutchman, realising he had little support around him, simply waited for the on rushing Zola, who again fired home from close range after picking up a low cross ball from the left-hand side.

The Blues played out the remainder of the half as they had started it, by keeping the ball and creating chance after chance.

After the break, the Premiership side took advantage of the pre-season run out when they made ten substitutions, with only Lampard remaining on the pitch.

The shots brought on Jamie Taylor, Gareth Howells and Gell for the departing Adam Parker, Kuhl and Bull.

As in the first half there were early chances, but the first fell to the Shots as Moody wasted a free header from a Jason Chewins corner.

Carlton Cole, the young Chelsea striker who will be hoping to continue his fine form which earned him first team action at the end of last season, then scored a superb individual effort after he rounded off a thirty-yard run with a neat finish passed the advancing Howells.

Chelsea's all round play on the ball was pretty much the same, but the Shots were now finding their groove, and in particular, Lee Charles was looking a different class. He, along with Chewins, looked to be growing in confidence as the game went on.

Charles himself came close to getting on the score sheet when he drove a low, acute shot at Ed D'Hoey in the Chelsea goal but it was his link up play and all round passing, particularly his long cross balls which caught the eye.

Youngster Jamie Taylor was also enjoying his spell on the pitch, constantly trying to break down the Chelsea defence with his pace and running skills.

Cole though, was not to be outdone, and continued to threaten up front.

On 69 minutes, he played a delightful chip over the top of the defence for the on rushing Gabrielle Ambrosetti to coolly lob Howells with his first touch.

Then five minutes from time he turned inside Cousins in the box to fire a low right foot shot home to make it 5-0.

After Gell had played his part, Mario Stanic hit the post but 5-1 was the final score, with the Shots being able to take a lot of credit from their second-half performance.

Brown was left in no doubt about the class which Chelsea showed on the pitch, but in a game where his defence conceded five goals the Shots manager was pleased with the evenings work.

Brown said: "I was delighted that Chelsea sent a full strength squad here to play, and obviously the gulf in class showed with the individual skills that they showed on the pitch.

"All I asked of the lads at half-time was that they have a go at Chelsea and give our supporters something to cheer about rather than just sitting back and admiring the skills of the opposition.

"I thought that the back three worked very hard obviously under some very difficult circumstances and I was very pleased with Lee Charles and Dean Hooper.

"Jamie Taylor is also one for the future and we are hoping that he signs on for us this week which we are hopeful of him doing."

Asked if there was one player who stood out on the Chelsea team, Brown replied, "I suppose Zola but it is difficult to pick one player out of all of them, they were all outstanding."

Paul Buckle, who limped off early with a suspected ankle ligament injury, was the only concern for Brown and the Shots on a night which will be remembered for a long time down at the Rec.

SHOTS: Bull (sub Howells 45), Hooper, Chewins, Sterling, Cousins, A.Charles ( Nutter 59), Holsgrove (Sowden 79), L.Charles, Moody (Donaghue 66), Buckle (Kuhl 5), Parker (Taylor 45), Kuhl (Gell 45).

CHELSEA: Cudicini (D'Hoey 45), Melchiot (Ferrer 45), Gallas (Hutc 45), Desailly (Dicesare 45), Babayaro (Le Saux 45), Lampard, Petit (Stanic 45), Zenden (Ambrosetti 45), Haselbaink (Cole 45), Zola (Gronkjaer 45), Delucas (Keenan 45)


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