FA Youth Cup report: Newcastle United 0 Chelsea 3

Our Under-18s booked themselves a place in the FA Youth Cup semi-finals for the sixth year in a row with a hard-fought victory at St James’ Park.

It was a dominant first-half display from the holders, with the best chance coming to Izzy Brown as the Blues were awarded a penalty inside five minutes. However, goalkeeper Freddie Woodman, who starred in Newcastle’s penalty shootout win over Sunderland in the previous round, saved the central effort low to his left.

Despite numerous opportunities, the score remained level at the interval and then Newcastle grew into the game as the second half wore on. Bradley Collins made some crucial stops while Dominic Solanke, Brown and Tammy Abraham all threatened at the other end, however neither side could break the deadlock before the end of 90 minutes.

Brown did find the back of the net early in the first period of extra-time before Solanke and then Abraham netted in the second period to send the Blues into a two-legged semi-final tie against either Nottingham Forest or Tottenham.
 

Team news

Joe Edwards made just one change from the side that beat Swansea City 6-0 in round five as the injured Jeremie Boga was replaced by the returning Brown up front. Tammy Abraham joined him in a front two, with Dominic Solanke operating in the number 10 role. The attacking trio started the game boasting a combined goals tally so far this season of 61.

Charlie Colkett captained the team in midfield alongside Charly Musonda and Kyle Scott, while the back five also remained unchanged with Collins in goal protected by Ola Aina, Fikayo Tomori , Jake Clarke-Salter and Jay Dasilva.

Newcastle also made just a single change from their penalty shootout victory over Sunderland in the previous round and included England youth internationals Adam Armstrong and Woodman among their starting 11.
 

First half

Following a nervy opening few minutes from both sides, Chelsea were handed a great chance to take an early lead. Colkett floated a lovely ball over to the left which Dasilva brought down on his chest and worked cleverly towards goal, before being felled by a wild swipe from defender Michael Newberry. Brown stepped up from 12 yards but his effort was too central and his England Under-17 team-mate Freddie Woodman was able to gather comfortably down low to his left.

In response, Newcastle almost worked a sight at goal for Dan Ward although Dan Barlaser’s driven cross from the left was just too high for his fellow midfielder to make contact with. However, the Blues were working hard off the ball and making it very difficult for their hosts to play out from the back into midfield.

At the same time, the visitors began to create openings for themselves and both Solanke and Abraham were beneficiaries through the remainder of the half. Solanke headed wide from Musonda’s cross and was then thwarted by strong defending from Ben Drennan after Dasilva had cleverly cut the ball back.

Abraham forced Woodman into action as the goalkeeper reacted quickly to push his powerful drive behind before he fired over the bar following a delicate chip forward by Scott.

Second half

The one-way traffic continued after the restart, with Newcastle hoping to threaten on the break with the pace and power of Armstrong. Musonda danced beyond the challenges of a couple of defenders before squeezing in a shot that Woodman pushed around his near post, before Dasilva teed up Abraham with an inviting low cross that the striker just mistimed and skewed wide.

Newcastle reminded the visitors of their threat after an hour as Armstrong and Sean Longstaff combined to fashion a chance for full-back Jamie Cobain, though Collins did well to palm his high effort over the bar. The Blues goalkeeper then played a crucial role in keeping the scores level as he pulled off a double save, firstly to deny Armstrong from close range and then Cobain’s effort on the rebound.

The tie opened up in the final 20 minutes as the home side pushed more men forward and looked to snatch a winner. Solanke might have done better with a free header from Colkett’s inswinging free-kick but nodded over, while substitute Kasey Palmer drilled a more central free-kick into the wall.

Brown arrowed a shot inches past the upright and Solanke fired over in the closing stages before the Blues did get the ball in the back of the net in stoppage time. However, the officials ruled it out after Abraham was deemed to have used his hand to divert the ball in and the tie progressed to extra-time.

 

Extra-time

As in the first half of normal time, where a chance fell Brown’s way inside five minutes, so it did after the restart for extra-time and on this occasion the forward made no mistake. Scott slid him in through the middle with a perfectly-weighted forward pass and the 18-year-old did the rest, rounding Woodman and slotting the ball into the unguarded net for his second Youth Cup goal of the campaign.

Collins did well to back-pedal and push a looping header over his bar as Newcastle looked to hit back, before Abraham almost doubled the advantage with an effort that hit the inside of both posts, however the linesman’s flag had ruled him offside anyway.

The Blues’ second goal did arrive five minutes into the second period as Solanke latched on to Brown’s forward pass and finished confidently past Woodman. It was the striker’s seventh goal in four Youth Cup ties this term and 27th in all competitions. Abraham then rounded off the goalscoring as Brown once again turned provider and Edwards’ side booked a place in the semi-finals again.

Action resumes for the Academy this Thursday 19 February as Adi Viveash’s Under-21s host Fulham at Aldershot in the last eight of the Premier League International Cup. Meanwhile, the youth team play the penultimate game of their regional league programme this Saturday 21 February, with Reading the visitors to Cobham.

Manager reaction

Joe Edwards reflected after the game on a hard-fought victory and praised the defensive performance of his back five as they kept another clean sheet in the competition. Speaking to the official Chelsea website afterwards, he said: ‘The tactical plan was to make sure we got control of the game and dominate possession, which we did in the first half.

‘We forced Newcastle back and then it became about getting our key players on the ball but unfortunately we had one of those nights where the final pass wasn’t quite right. It became quite frustrating for us and I’m sure going in at half-time with a clean sheet gave them a big lift.

‘Our front three had by no means their best nights but they all got their goals, while the back five were excellent. Fikayo Tomori was outstanding, Colkett’s performance wasn’t far behind and Brad Collins has made some big saves in the second half.

‘The most important thing for us at this stage is to progress so it’s a big result. You can’t always play as pretty as you want to and the Youth Cup is about finding out if you can handle different tests so tonight is another one we’ve come through.’

Chelsea (4-diamond-2): Bradley Collins; Ola Aina, Fikayo Tomori, Jake Clarke-Salter (Ali Suljic 63), Jay Dasilva; Charlie Colkett (c), Charly Musonda (Kasey Palmer 68), Kyle Scott (Ruben Sammut 97), Dominic Solanke; Tammy Abraham, Izzy Brown
Unused subs: Jared Thompson, Mukhtar Ali
Scorers: Brown 94, Solanke 110, Abraham 118
Bookings: Clarke-Salter, Abraham, Solanke, Dasilva

Newcastle United: Freddie Woodman, Jamie Cobain (Jamie Holmes 110), Adam Laidler, Ben Drennan (Louis Johnson 99), Michael Newberry, Kyle Cameron, Dan Ward (Jack Hunter 59), Callum Williams, Adam Armstrong (c), Sean Longstaff, Daniel Barlaser
Unused subs: Stefan Broccoli, Nathan Harker, Jamie Holmes, Louis Johnson
Bookings: Armstrong, Hunter

Attendance: 11,664