Youth Cup report: Tottenham 1 Chelsea 2
news Tue 14 Mar 2017
Our Under-18s established an important advantage in the first leg of the FA Youth Cup semi-final at White Hart Lane.
Jody Morris’s side controlled proceedings as headers from Reece James and Ike Ugbo (pictured top) gave the holders a two-goal lead in North London before the hosts struck a late goal through Kazaiah Sterling that keeps their hopes alive ahead of the second leg this Saturday at Stamford Bridge.
Morris made three changes from the quarter-final win over Leicester City as Jamie Cumming, Tariq Uwakwe and Juan Castillo came into the side. The visitors lined up in a 3-4-3 system previously adopted away at Birmingham City in round four and used frequently in the Under-18 Premier League.
We enjoyed the better of the opening exchanges as Uwakwe fired a left-footed strike into the Chelsea fans behind the goal before Mason Mount struck the woodwork inside 10 minutes, the skipper’s curling free-kick striking the upright of Brandon Austin’s goal and the rebound evading the lurking Callum Hudson-Odoi.
Uwakwe’s left foot was a regular cause of concern for Tottenham’s backline and an inswinging corner found Ugbo at the near post, though the striker’s flick was blocked by a covering defender. Yet the Blues continued to fashion the more clear-cut of the opportunities and schoolboy Hudson-Odoi went close after 20 minutes, twisting and turning before firing a shot that deflected inches past the far post.
Uwakwe’s bending, dipping strike dropped narrowly wide and Ugbo drove a rising effort just over before Spurs launched a rare forward foray, capitalising on a loose pass out from Josh Grant and advancing down the right flank before the covering Trevoh Chalobah promptly ended the attack.
The Blues were building up a head of steam as the half-hour mark passed and slowly turning the screw on their hosts. Dujon Sterling rose highest to meet Mount’s deep delivery but failed to sufficiently test Austin before the holders drew first blood in the semi-final. Uwakwe whipped in an inswinging corner and James escaped the attentions of his marker with a darting run to the front post and headed into the far corner (pictured below).
Morris’s side continued to probe as the interval approached, Austin racing off his line to head clear as Mount looked to get on the end of a searching Chalobah pass before they doubled the lead five minutes before half-time with a stylish and incisive move. Juan Castillo worked some space on the left flank to deliver a deep cross to his fellow wing-back Sterling and the 17-year-old volleyed back across goal for Ugbo to head in for his fifth Youth Cup goal of the season.
Another half in the competition had passed without us conceding and with barely a sight at goal for our opponents, though there was an obvious need to guard against complacency in the second period and even add to the goal tally. Ugbo was inches away from turning in Sterling’s fierce pass across goal shortly after the restart before Austin kept his side in the tie with a string of saves.
The stopper first parried from Mount and then from Hudson-Odoi, both strikes at a fairly reasonable height for the goalkeeper, before he benefited from a case of right place, right time in keeping out Ugbo’s point-black attempt following a teasing cross from Castillo.
Austin then parried James’s well-struck volley behind and watched as Ugbo fired into the side-netting from a narrowing angle, while Grant headed wide from substitute George McEachran’s corner as the tie’s one-way traffic continued.
Tottenham’s best opportunities of the night arrived after 70 minutes. Japhet Tanganga advanced from the back and was found by a clever touch from Sterling, though the defender lost his balance at the crucial moment and Grant was able to clear to safety. Sterling then brought a first save of the game from Cumming, firing straight at him from 12 yards out.
Morris might have been hoping for a bigger advantage given how dominant his side had been and Ugbo perhaps ought to have made it 3-0 when he cut right through the middle of the Spurs defence but his low effort was too close to Austin and allowed the keeper to push the ball away.
Undoubtedly the home side’s best performer, Austin made an impressive stop to deny Mount moments later, diving low to his right to claw away the midfielder’s powerful strike, which seemed to be heading for the bottom corner.
Those saves proved all the more significant late in the game as Tottenham reduced the deficit in the 88th minute through Sterling. The striker latched on to Jack Roles’s pass and slotted a neat finish inside the far corner as the Blues conceded for the first time on this cup run.
There was an even later opportunity for the visitors to re-establish their two-goal cushion when substitute Harvey St Clair was pulled down in the box (pictured above) but fellow newcomer Luke McCormick thumped the post after a lengthy delay before the kick was taken.
The result somewhat soured a dominant Chelsea display but Morris and his players will be happy with an advantage heading into the SW6 return this weekend. Supporters can still purchase tickets online by clicking this link.
Chelsea (3-4-3) Jamie Cumming; Reece James, Trevoh Chalobah, Josh Grant; Dujon Sterling, Jacob Maddox, Tariq Uwakwe (Luke McCormick 72), Juan Castillo; Callum Hudson-Odoi (George McEachran 63), Mason Mount (c), Ike Ugbo (Harvey St Clair 83)
Unused subs Marc Guehi, Marcin Bulka
Scorers James 34; Ugbo 40
Tottenham Brandon Austin, Timothy Eyoma, Nicholas Tsaroulla, George Marsh (c) (Jack Roles 75), Jonathan Dinzeyi, Japhet Tanganga, Samuel Shashoua (Dylan Duncan h/t), Oliver Skipp (Reo Griffiths 68), Kazaiah Sterling, Tashan Oakley-Boothe, Keanan Bennetts
Unused subs Alfie Whiteman, Tariq Hinds
Scorer Sterling 88
Booked Marsh, Tanganga
Referee Lee Swabey
-Additional match picture courtesy of Mark Sandom