Match report: Chelsea Res 2-0 Villa Res
Villa's six-match unbeaten run in the Barclays Premier Reserve League came to an end thanks to some ruthless finishing from Chelsea hotshot Romelu Lukaku.
The big-money summer signing from Anderlecht was in the right place at the right time to score two early goals as the young Villa outfit suffered only their second defeat of the campaign.
The Belgian international's brace left the claret and blues with an uphill task - although they fought back valiantly with Graham Burke striking the post and Derrick Williams and Daniel Johnson having good opportunities.
There were two changes from the side that beat Arsenal 2-0 at Hinckley last Wednesday with Lewis Kinsella and Jordan Graham coming in for senior stars Ciaran Clark and Jordan Graham.
It meant a positional reshuffle for coach Sean Verity with Callum Robinson - Villa's match-winner last time these two teams met at Hinckley in October - reverting back to a forward role and Graham replacing him on the right flank.
Kinsella slotted in at left-back while Williams moved back inside to his preferred central role.
The threat of 6ft 3in forward Lukaku loomed large throughout the first period and it took the Belgian powerhouse just four minutes to break the deadlock when he turned in Aziz Deen-Conteh's left-wing cross.
Chelsea had already signified their attacking intent when Billy Clifford forced Benjamin Siegrist in to an early save from his long-range effort.
The visitors almost produced the perfect response to Lukaku's opening strike but Williams couldn't steer his left-foot volley on target after meeting Samir Carruthers' teasing free-kick.
From there on, though, the Blues looked the most likely to add to the scoring.
With 23 minutes on the clock, Lukaku pounced to convert his second from close range after Siegrist parried a stinging effort from Aliu Djalo.
And the former Anderlecht man could have been celebrating a first-half hat-trick but for Siegrist's fine one-handed save to tip his low drive around the post.
Coach Verity couldn't have asked for a better response from his Young Lions after the break.
They fashioned several openings with Johnson taking on the role of chief creator.
Straight from kick-off, the skipper made a storming run through the heat of the Chelsea defence before shifting the ball left to Burke. The Irishman cut back inside on to his right foot and drilled a low shot at goal which cannoned off the foot of the post.
And home defender Todd Kane had to clear Johnson's cutback over his own bar after the Villa midfielder was released on the left by Carruthers' sublime through ball.
But it remained a relatively quiet afternoon for Chelsea custodian Rhys Taylor, barring a looping header from Williams which he comfortably held.
One final opportunity fell Villa's way in the closing stages when substitute Connor Taylor motored down the right and crossed into the six-yard box but Johnson struggled to keep his volley down.
The hosts also had chances at the death - Nathaniel Chalobah and Deen-Conteh forcing Siegrist in to superb reflex saves.
CHELSEA: Taylor, Kane, Hutchinson, Saville, Deen-Conteh, Chalobah, Lalkovic, Clifford, Lukaku, Djalo, Piazon. Subs: Gordon [for Deen-Conteh, 82], Blackman, Ince [for Clifford, 36], Mitrovic [for Lalkovic, 84], Magnay.
VILLA: Siegrist, Webb, Donacien, Williams, Kinsella, Graham, Johnson, Carruthers, Cameron, Burke, Robinson. Subs: Grealish [for Graham, 71], Barrett, Nelson-Addy, Taylor [for Robinson, 68], Caira [for Burke, 74].
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