FA Youth Cup report: Chelsea 5 Tottenham 2 (5-4 on agg)

Our Under-18s came from behind to record an emphatic victory at Stamford Bridge and book a place in the FA Youth Cup final for the fourth year in a row.

With a 2-0 deficit to overturn from the first leg, their task became much tougher when Shayon Harrison fired Tottenham into the lead after half an hour, however the Blues responded through Dominic Solanke and Izzy Brown to take a lead on the night into the break.

A good restart proved decisive as goals from Solanke and Charlie Colkett inside the opening eight minutes turned the tie around. Colkett added a fifth from the penalty spot before Spurs netted a spot-kick of their own in the final minutes to set up a nervy finale. However, the holders came through the late test and will now face either Manchester City or Leicester City in another Youth Cup final.

 

Team news

Joe Edwards made two changes from the first leg at White Hart Lane with both Jake Clarke-Salter and Jeremie Boga returning to the starting side. Clarke-Salter partnered Fikayo Tomori in central defence, with Jay Dasilva and Ola Aina retaining their spots at left-back and right-back respectively.

Boga began in the no. 10 role behind central striker Tammy Abraham , with captain Colkett and Ruben Sammut comprising the remainder of the midfield. Solanke and Brown provided the wide support in attack.

Tottenham made just one change from the first leg and it was a switch of the goalkeeper as Harry Voss replaced Tom Glover between the sticks. Captain Joshua Onomah scored the opener in north London and returned in midfield, while the other goalscorer a fortnight previously, England Under-16 forward Kazaiah Sterling, started on the bench.

 

First half

It was a nervy opening from both sides but Collins proved to be the busier of the two goalkeepers inside the first 20 minutes, first saving well from Onomah’s 25-yard drive and then pushing Shayon Harrison’s powerful low effort round the post.

A deep cross from Dasilva (pictured below) from the left tested Voss in the visitors’ goal as he clawed the dangerous effort away from danger and it proved a crucial intervention.


Tottenham extended their aggregate lead a minute later. Sammut headed away a left-sided corner but the loose ball was hooked back into the box and Harrison produced a good finish to steer it into the far corner.

The goal increased the enormity of the task Chelsea faced, yet they responded strongly as Colkett’s strike flew narrowly wide and then Brown’s low centre across the face of goal was inches away from being turned in by the sliding Abraham.

The Blues reduced the deficit in the 40th minute and the goal came from a familiar source as Solanke notched his 30th of the season, turning in Brown’s cross from close range to beat Voss. 


Zenon Stylianides came close to restoring Tottenham’s lead on the night moments later but was thwarted by Dasilva as the full-back cleared off the line with Collins beaten.

The game was now more open than it had been all evening and Edwards’s side got themselves in front on the night in the final minute of the half. Colkett’s inswinging corner was won in the air by Clarke-Salter and Brown fired in the loose ball to make it 2-3 on aggregate.

Second half

The hosts required one more goal to level the tie and they restarted brightly as Voss saved from Abraham and then Walker-Peters denied the striker with a last-ditch challenge. However, within six minutes they had a third goal on the night as Brown fed the overlapping Aina down the right and Solanke powered in a header that left Voss with no chance.


With the aggregate scores now level, Spurs seemed shaken and the holders quickly capitalised to move ahead for the first time in the tie. With everyone expecting a set-piece on the right to be delivered deep into the box, skipper Colkett deceived them all and whipped the ball inside the near post to make it 4-3 on aggregate.

Tottenham required a response and Collins had to be alert to push Harrison’s drive behind for a corner before Luke Amos struck the post following Stylianides’ cross from the left. Yet the Blues remained the more dangerous and Aina twice went close before playing a key part in winning a 71st-minute penalty. Stylianides made a clumsy challenge and Colkett stepped up to slot the ball into the bottom-left corner.

However, that was not the end of the action and the visitors grabbed a lifeline with eight minutes remaining. Tomori won the ball as he slid in on Harrison inside the box but was deemed to have used his hand as the referee pointed to the spot for the second time. Harrison picked himself up and beat Collins with a strike right into the corner of the net.

It ensured a few nervy moments at the end as Clarke-Salter thwarted Onomah with a crucial block and Collins pushed Cameron Carter-Vickers’s looping header over the bar in stoppage time, but Edwards’ side held on to continue their Cup defence.

Manager reaction

Joe Edwards reflected after the game on a night in which the quality and character of his players came to the fore. Speaking to the official Chelsea website, he said: ‘It was a real test but we spoke in our preparations about the possibility of a setback on the night and the need to keep composed even if we did concede the first goal.

‘Getting the two before half-time and going in ahead on the night really did settle us and gave us real belief for the second half. In the end we showed that experience of these big moments and our players stepped up.

‘To reach another final is a real testament to the winning mentality we have here. You see with the senior level FA Cup that it’s not always the best teams that get all the way through to the end and you really have to show your character through the ups and downs. To sustain this level of success year after year shows the good work that’s being done in the Academy all the way through the system.’

Chelsea Bradley Collins; Ola Aina, Fikayo Tomori , Jake Clarke-Salter, Jay Dasilva; Ruben Sammut (Kyle Scott 77), Charlie Colkett (c), Jeremie Boga (Charly Musonda 71), Izzy Brown (Kasey Palmer 90+4), Tammy Abraham , Dominic Solanke
Unused subs Jared Thompson, Josh Grant
Scorers Solanke 40, 51; Brown 45; Colkett 53, (pen) 71
Booked Collins, Scott

Tottenham Harry Voss, Kyle Walker-Peters, Anton Walkes, Charlie Owens (Chris Paul 68), Christian Maghoma, Cameron Carter-Vickers, Zenon Stylianides (Cy Goddard 77), Luke Amos, Shayon Harrison, Joshua Onomah (c), Ismail Azzaoui  (Kazaiah Sterling 77)
Unused subs Tom Glover, Marcus Edwards
Scorer Harrison 31, (pen) 82
Booked Amos, Harrison

Attendance 3,666

By Sam Poplett