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Wednesday 18 September 2019

Bohs' Molloy ruins Lampard's return

Chelsea’s Tiemoue Bakayoko is tackled by Bohemians’ Alex Kelly (l) and Conor Levingston during their friendly at Dalymount Park last night
Chelsea’s Tiemoue Bakayoko is tackled by Bohemians’ Alex Kelly (l) and Conor Levingston during their friendly at Dalymount Park last night

When he was confirmed as Chelsea manager just a week ago, Frank Lampard announced: "I am here to work hard."

Lampard, club legend and record goalscorer, is the man expected to return the swash to Chelsea's buckle.

Last night, at Dalymount Park it looked like there'll be work to do if he's to erase memories of 'Sarriball', the inflexible style imposed by Maurizio Sarri.

Frank's ambition is simple. "We have to be competitive," he says.

His task is beset by questions.

With Eden Hazard gone from Stamford Bridge and the club banned from signing players for two transfer windows, the new boss will need to be resourceful.

Last night, he got a chance to see many of his squad operating under competitive conditions.

Chelsea began authoritatively, sweeping the ball across the damp pitch with practiced ease.

Despite the Blues being taller and more commanding-looking that the home side, it was Bohs who got a shot away first, a strike that whistled past Willy Caballero's right post.

While Bohs had enough of the play to keep their supporters happy, it was Chelsea who took the lead when Michy Batshuayi capitalised on defensive indecision and, breaking forward used his strength to hold off a challenge and slotted comfortably past James Talbot on 8 minutes.

It was another twenty minutes before Chelsea threatened again. But this time, with the goal at his mercy, 19-year-old Conor Gallagher, who Sarri included in the squad that travelled to Baku, hooked the ball high in the Cabra sky.

At half-time, when the stadium announced declared: "We do wish Frank Lampard the very best", the manager, on the pitch supervising his substitutes' warm-up, turned and gave a thumbs up to packed Jodi Stand.

Under a leaden sky, it was an imperious midfielder Ethan Ampadu who dominated, brighting up proceedings with timely tackles and pin-point 50-yard passes.

This was truly a game of two halves, as Lampard put out a completely different eleven after the interval.

Despite the turnover, there was no sign of a No 10, the vacant shirt said to be reserved as an incentive for Callum Hudson-Odoi, the 18-year-old who's been attracting offers from Bayern Munich.

Bohemians made one change with Keith Ward coming on for Danny Mandoiu.

With many of his first team players still on holiday, Lampard took this early opportunity to check out his squad.

Italian international Davide Zappacosta, right-back, looked lively, his speed on the break tormenting the opposition. That is until he was upended by a resolute Paddy Kirk.

On the hour mark, Bohs made four changes to meet the challenge of the fresh Chelsea legs.

Eight minutes later there was generous applause for the departing Andre Wright who was replaced by Evan Ferguson. The Bohs' trialist acquitted himself well despite close attention of Marc Guehi.

This was clearly a pre-season match. Lampard's selection have yet to find their rhythm.

It didn't take a late surge by Bohemians in the closing stages to prompt the local Ultras to fire up a chorus of "Boring, boring Chelsea."

But then, on 89 minutes, a dramatic strike by Bohs' trialist Eric Molloy, the Carlow man who plays in New Zealand, lit up the night. 1-1.

"You're getting sacked in the morning," sang the Ultras.

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