Under-18s report: Norwich 0 Chelsea 4

Our youngsters continued their impressive winning start to the new season in the Under-18 Premier League with a convincing victory in Norfolk this morning (Saturday).

Jody Morris’s side mirrored their achievement of last season at Norwich City, scoring four goals at the Colney Training Centre in their second away game of the campaign. However, their defensive display was much stronger than in last term’s 5-4 defeat as they kept the Canaries out and ensured the full complement of three points were brought home to Cobham.

The impressive George McEachran (pictured top) netted a wonderful individual goal to hand us a half-time lead before Charlie Brown and Conor Gallagher made it 3-0 with a quick double inside four second-half minutes. Martell Taylor-Crossdale completed the scoring with six minutes remaining, dispatching a penalty after an unnecessary foul on Marcel Lavinier.

Brown and Taylor-Crossdale were on the scoresheet at the same ground last September and the duo led the line up front as the Blues continued with their 4-diamond-2 shape. Lavinier lined up in the back four alongside Marc Guehi, Jack Wakely and Jon Panzo while goalkeeper Jamie Cumming returned between the sticks after a knock saw him miss the win over Reading last time out.

Gallagher skippered the side at the base of the midfield diamond, with Juan Castillo on the left, Jon Russell on the right and McEachran in the number 10 role. The fluidity and movement between attacking positions caused problems for the hosts from the start and Taylor-Crossdale might have done better with an opportunity at the end of a flowing move down the right. Gallagher, McEachran and Brown combined before the latter found his forward partner with a low pass into the box that the striker fired straight at Norwich stopper Fergal Hale-Brown.

McEachran drove a right-foot strike high and wide as the visitors continued to threaten an early goal and the midfielder then dragged a shot wide of the near post shortly after following Gallagher’s tee-up. The 16-year-old was proving to be the fulcrum of our attacking intentions and it was his individual goal after 15 minutes that broke the deadlock.

Captain Gallagher challenges for a high ball in midfield.

Picking the ball up on the right flank, he darted infield and skipped past two defenders before curling a perfect effort beyond the reach of the goalkeeper and into the bottom far corner. Morris’s men were ahead and it was an advantage they merited. Hale-Brown prevented it being extended before the interval, producing an important double save to thwart Brown and then Taylor-Crossdale from inside the 18-yard box.

Taylor-Crossdale continued to fashion good chances for himself and spun away at the back post to get on the end of McEachran’s inswinging delivery but could only guide his header straight at the grateful Hale-Brown.

The defenders in blue had been little more than spectators for most of the opening period but they were made to work as Norwich improved leading into half-time. Dylan O’Donnell’s quick throw found Adam Idah in a good position but Wakely read the danger well and poked the ball away from danger with a well-timed challenge.

On the opposite flank, Connor Parsons’s dangerous delivery was cut out crucially by Guehi before Lavinier did well under pressure to head clear the resulting corner. The Canaries worked their best opportunity moments before the break, Bilal Kamal advancing through the middle and placing a left-footed strike just wide.

Brown and Gallagher celebrate as the pair both get on the scoresheet in Norfolk.

The resurgence from the hosts focused Chelsea minds and the defending league champions returned for the second period keen to seal the points swiftly. Taylor-Crossdale cut inside from the left and tested Hale-Brown before half-time substitute Anis Mehmeti ought to have done better with an effort scuffed wide.

Those few spurned opportunities were punished by the Blues as they established a three-goal advantage before the hour mark. Brown netted the first of the quick double at the end of an excellent team move as Wakely played the ball out from the back with intelligence, McEachran moved it on to Castillo and the Dutch midfielder delivered a low centre for Brown to turn in from a few yards out. For the former Ipswich Town youngster, it was a particularly sweet goal to celebrate.

Gallagher then added a third with a composed poked finish over the goalkeeper after jinking into the box, using both feet with confidence to keep the ball out of the reach of the opposing defenders.

Cumming had a rare save to make midway through the half as wideman Anthony Spyrou capitalised on a weak clearance from the goalkeeper, though the effort on goal was routinely gathered down low.

Morris then shuffled his pack with a series of introductions from the bench and substitute Tushaun Walters went close to netting his first Chelsea goal following good work with Taylor-Crossdale. The forwards exchanged passes and Walters was set clear but Hale-Brown raced quickly off his line to smother the ball away to safety.

Taylor-Crossdale slots in a penalty to complete the 4-0 win.

There was reward for Taylor-Crossdale’s perseverance late on as he eventually added his name to the list of goalscorers, although Norwich were left rueing the ease with which the visitors were able to make it 4-0. Lavinier burst into the box down the right but had clearly overrun the ball when he was blatantly pulled back by Jay Foulston. The referee had no choice but to point to the spot and Taylor-Crossdale dispatched from 12 yards to complete the 4-0 victory.

The result leaves our youngsters with three wins from three at the start of 2017/18 and yet to concede a goal. They return to action at home against Arsenal on Saturday 9 September.

 

Chelsea (4-diamond-2) Jamie Cumming; Marcel Lavinier, Marc Guehi, Jack Wakely, Jon Panzo; Conor Gallagher (c), Jon Russell (Clinton Mola 63), Juan Castillo, George McEachran (Tushaun Walters 71); Charlie Brown (Tariq Lamptey 71), Martell Taylor-Crossdale
Unused subs
Ade Akinjogbin, Renedi Masampu
Scorers
McEachran 15; Brown 55; Gallagher 59; Taylor-Crossdale (pen) 84
Booked Taylor-Crossdale

Norwich City Fergal Hale-Brown, Connor Parsons, Dylan O’Donnell (Shae Hutchinson 78), Aaron Ekumah (c), Jay Foulston, Louis Lomas, Anthony Spyrou (Alan Fleming 78), Bilal Kamal, Adam Idah, Finlay Barnes, Isak Thorvaldsson (Anis Mehmeti h/t)
Unused subs
Ryan Dickerson, Brandon Oddy
Booked Foulston

Referee Nathan Walker