Marc Pelosi made a welcome return to action as Liverpool U21s took one step closer to qualifying for the end of season play-offs with a 1-0 win over Chelsea on Monday night.

A solitary strike from Jack Dunn, his seventh goal in just six games was enough as the young Reds were made to battle in awful conditions at Aldershot Town FC.

They were boosted by the return of Pelosi, after the midfielder was sidelined for 14 months with a broken leg. Named as a substitute, the American starlet entered the fray on 76 minutes, replacing goalscorer Dunn for his first piece of action since February 2013.

The visitors almost made the perfect start straight from the kick-off when a storming run down the left-hand side from Kristoffer Peterson resulted in a low cross to Dunn, whose effort was gathered by Chelsea stopper Jamal Blackman.

The Blues came close to breaking the deadlock in the early exchanges after patient build-up allowed Charlie Musonda to drill an effort from the right-hand side of the box which was palmed away by Ryan Fulton.

After 16 minutes Joao Carlos Teixeira was brought down and won a free-kick from long range. The tricky winger almost found the back of the net after his curling effort hit the side netting.

The rain certainly proved to be a leveller with neither side being able to assert any real dominance on the game.

In the 23rd minute, Adam Nditi drove forward before unleashing an effort which took a slight deflection off Jordan Rossiter and went out for a corner.

Taken by Baker, the resulting corner was dropped by Fulton before being hooked away.

Then in a matter of moments, Alex Inglethorpe's side were ahead. An excellent tackle from Peterson on the halfway line allowed Connor Randall to play a through ball towards Dunn.

Misjudged by centre-half Alex Davey, Dunn profited before calmly slotting past Blackman for his 10th goal of the season.

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Just four minutes later, an inviting through ball from Teixeira put Dunn through again; however, it wasn't to be on this occasion as his attempted lob from long range sailed over the bar.

Shortly before half-time, Teixeira found himself on the end of an awful challenge by Swift on the halfway-line, which resulted in a yellow card for the Chelsea No.10.

Just two minutes before the break, Lloyd Jones was robbed of possession by Islam Feruz just outside his own box but the striker failed to make the centre-half pay as he blasted his effort over.

The young Reds began the second half on top, and two minutes in a lovely ball from Lloyd Jones found the feet of Peterson, whose left-footed shot flashed narrowly wide.

Moments later, they came again. This time Dunn's pass found Peterson on the right-hand side. After holding up play, the Swede's cross picked out Lussey who failed to take advantage.

Teixeira came close from a set piece for the second time on 51 minutes when his effort clipped the woodwork before bouncing away.

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The Blues' first real effort of the second-half came from substitute Alex Kiwomya just inside the penalty area, but his effort failed to hit the target.

Liverpool came close to a second on 74 minutes after Dunn once again found Peterson with a perfect pass. The winger's shot from an acute angle was palmed away by Blackman before Dunn came close again with an effort of his own.

Two minutes later Pelosi entered the fray for Dunn and the American came close to a dream return with a goal, only to be denied on 82 minutes.

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Shortly before the end Chelsea appealed for a penalty after Feruz was fouled by Jones in the box. However their pleas were ignored.

In stoppage time the Reds avoided a close shave as driving effort from Feruz was fumbled by Fulton, only for the Scotland youth international goalkeeper to reclaim the ball at the second attempt.

Casey Palmer then tested the stopper with a left-footed effort which was turned behind.

But Inglethorpe and his side held on for a crucial win which has kept the Reds on top of the Barclays U21 Premier League ahead of next Monday's mini-derby with Everton.

Liverpool: Fulton; Randall, Smith, Paez, Jones, Williams, Peterson, Rossiter, Dunn (Pelosi 76), Teixeira, Lussey (Brannagan 64). Unused subs: Maguire, Firth, Kent.