Under-18s report: Chelsea 4 Tottenham 2

Chelsea Under-18s stay top of the Under-18 Premier League after a comprehensive victory over Tottenham this morning (Saturday).

The hosts were 2-0 in front midway through the first half as Ike Ugbo bagged an early brace, converting from 12 yards having been fouled in the box before finding the bottom corner with a smart finish. Isaac Christie-Davies added a third before the break and Mason Mount made it four shortly after the restart.

The visitors grabbed two late consolation goals as substitute Ryan Loft netted with eight minutes remaining and then Ali Suljic turned the ball past his own goalkeeper in the final minute of normal time.

The result extends the youth team’s unbeaten league run to 12 games stretching back to September, an achievement not seen from a Chelsea Academy side for over 31 years.

Joe Edwards made six changes from the side that started the final youth team game of 2015, a 2-2 draw away at Brighton. Nathan Baxter returned in goal protected by a back three consisting of Richard Nartey, Suljic and Trevoh Chalobah.

Ugbo, the youth team’s top goalscorer this season with 14 goals in all competitions, led the line up front supported by Mount and Christie-Davies from midfield. Ruben Sammut skippered the side once again and partnered Kyle Scott in central midfield, while Charlie Wakefield and Cole Dasilva operated at right wing-back and left wing-back respectively.

The game started in a lively, open fashion as Wakefield fired narrowly over the bar from the right before Baxter denied Kazaiah Sterling one-on-one with an excellent save down to his left.

The deadlock was broken after just 10 minutes as Ugbo escaped through the middle and was brought down as he attempted to round goalkeeper Tom McDermott. The referee was kind in allowing the visiting stopper to remain on the pitch, having denied Ugbo a clear goalscoring opportunity. However, our number nine was not so forgiving as he picked himself up and rolled the ball into the back of the net for his 15th goal of the campaign.

McDermott gathered an inswinging free-kick from Mount after a quarter of an hour but could do nothing to stop his side falling further behind in the game six minutes later. Some loose play out from the back was punished as Nartey read the game and intercepted, playing the ball quickly into the feet of Ugbo. The striker advanced towards goal and, using the supporting run of Mount as a diversion, was able to find the space to squeeze a shot into the bottom far corner.

Japhet Tanganga headed wide from a right-sided corner and Baxter was required to make another smart, brave stop at the feet of Shilow Tracey, while Christie-Davies narrowly fired off-target after neat combination play with Ugbo.

It was 3-0 before half-time as our high-intensity pressing from the front paid dividends once more. This time it was Scott who stole possession high up the field and quickly found the clever forward run of Christie-Davies. The midfielder kept his composure and finished underneath McDermott for his fifth goal of the season.

It was a familiar story after the restart as Mount added a fourth eight minutes into the second period. The midfielder latched on to Christie-Davies’s brilliant clipped pass after another flowing Blues move and beat the keeper with an excellent first-time side-foot volleyed finish.

The Blues kept control of the game from then on as they continued to move the ball around the pitch with comfort, showing little sign of cobwebs after a brief break over the festive season. Substitute Miro Muheim was denied down the left flank by some strong defending before Baxter clawed away a header from Keanen Bennetts and substitute Loft blazed over.

Loft did manage to grab a late consolation for his side as he beat Baxter with a fierce drive from just inside the box and the deficit was reduced further in the 90th minute as Zenon Stylianides’s centre was diverted past Baxter by the unfortunate Suljic.

However, Edwards’s side were more than good value for another three points as they made it nine wins from nine at home in the league this season.

 

Manager reaction

After the game, Joe Edwards praised the performance of his side in their first game of the New Year. Speaking to the official Chelsea website, he said: ‘It’s always interesting to see how the players return from a little break and with some big Youth Cup ties and league games coming up the boys have had to come back and start making statements early on.

‘It was a good first fixture back for us to have with it being a London derby and also the added bonus of trying to beat that longstanding unbeaten record.

‘We looked sharper than Spurs, beat them to every second ball and had a real brightness and enthusiasm to get on the ball and play. It was an outstanding performance for 80 minutes and then we lost our way a little bit at the end with a few substitutes, changing our shape and perhaps a bit of tiredness setting in as well.

‘But on the whole it was a really pleasing performance from us against a top side. The goals were great; it’s important for Ike to keep scoring goals because he’s pushing to try to get into our Youth Cup side now and Mason’s goal was pure class. He’s arriving in the box again and he did that all game today; his work-rate was brilliant.’

 

-In other news at the Academy this week, Mason Mount put pen to paper on his first professional contract. The midfielder commits himself to the club until the end of the 2017-18 campaign.

Chelsea (3-4-2-1) Nathan Baxter; Richard Nartey (Josh Grant 70), Ali Suljic, Trevoh Chalobah; Charlie Wakefield (Miro Muheim 61), Ruben Sammut (c), Kyle Scott (Harvey St Clair 63), Cole Dasilva; Mason Mount, Isaac Christie-Davies; Ike Ugbo
Unused subs
Jared Thompson, Jacob Maddox
Scorers Ugbo (pen) 10, 21; Christie-Davies 40, Mount 53

Tottenham (4-2-3-1) Tom McDermott; Joe Muscatt, Japhet Tanganga, Christian Maghoma (c) (Marcus Edwards 56), Jaden Brown; Charlie Owens, Chris Paul; Shilow Tracey (Zenon Stylianides 56), Charlie Hayford, Keanen Bennetts; Kazaiah Sterling (Ryan Loft 56)
Unused subs
Alfie Whiteman, Sam Shashoua
Booked McDermott, Muscatt
Scorer Loft 82; Suljic (og) 90

 

Pictures courtesy of Mark Sandom.

Goals: Tottenham U18s (H) 15/16

09/01/2016 Duration: 1m 28s