Chelsea Under-18s booked themselves a place in the fourth round of the FA Youth Cup as they began the defence of their crown with victory over Huddersfield Town at Aldershot this evening (Wednesday).
The holders made a blistering start as Tammy Abraham headed them in front after just three minutes before adding a second in similar fashion half an hour later. Huddersfield reduced the arrears nine minutes into the second period through skipper Jamie Spencer.
However, Jay Dasilva forced an own goal from Jacob Hanson just after the hour mark to take his tally to three assists in the game. A late flurry of goals ensured the final scoreline had an emphatic look to it as Ike Ugbo and Dujon Sterling came off the bench to net before Abraham completed his hat-trick in the final minute of stoppage time.
We will now face a trip to either Queens Park Rangers or Manchester United in the fourth round. The two sides meet next week, with ties in the next round due to played in the New Year.
With many of last term’s class having progressed to the next stage of their development, whether that be on loan or with older age groups, there were five debutants among Joe Edwards’s starting line-up for the visit of the Terriers.
Goalkeeper Nathan Baxter, Trevoh Chalobah, Charlie Wakefield, Isaac Christie-Davies and Mason Mount all lined up for their first starts in the domestic cup competition, with Mount joining Christie-Davies in supporting striker Tammy Abraham up front. Abraham was prolific in this competition last season, netting nine goals in eight games.
Chalobah, the younger brother of the on-loan Nathaniel, joined Jake Clarke-Salter and Fikayo Tomori in a back three protecting Baxter in goal, with Wakefield and Jay Dasilva operating at right wing-back and left wing-back respectively. Mukhtar Ali partnered Ruben Sammut in central midfield.
These two sides met in the fourth round last campaign, where the Blues ran out 6-1 winners on the road to winning the trophy for the fourth time in six years. This tie started in an almost scarily-identical fashion as, just like in January, Abraham powered a header into the back of the net from a Dasilva left-sided cross inside the opening exchanges. It was the striker’s 10th Youth Cup goal in nine games and brought his tally in the current campaign to 15.
The goal typified an intense start from the hosts and Huddersfield had to rely on their goalkeeper to keep them in the tie throughout a frenzied opening 20 minutes from the free-flowing Blues. Ali drove a strike just wide after a neat exchange with Christie-Davies before Dasilva’s header was gathered at the second attempt by Jake Turner.
The 3-4-2-1 shape that Edwards had opted for ensured the team kept plenty of width alongside accommodating their creative midfield players in the centre. Wakefield demonstrated his threat down the right flank as he skipped past Harry Clibbens and his fizzing low cross was almost turned into his own net by Jordan Williams.
Abraham went close to grabbing a second after a quarter of an hour as he latched on to an inviting pass forward from Ali and flicked an improvised effort towards goal, however Turner reacted instinctively to make the stop. A period of Chelsea control followed in possession with the chances at goal drying up somewhat, before Abraham did manage to extend the advantage after 33 minutes.
It was another carbon copy of the routine that had worked so well before as Dasilva found the time and space to cross from the left and Abraham met the flighted delivery with a perfect run and another emphatic header to have the net ripping once more.
Huddersfield were sparked into their most threatening spell towards the end of the half as Tomori was needed to thwart Rekeil Pyke with a perfectly-timed challenge as the striker bore down on goal, before Regan Booty stretched to prod beyond Baxter but was denied by Dasilva’s clearance off the line. Pyke then brought a routine save from Baxter with a header as the visitors ended the half with some hope of a comeback.
Those hopes were almost dashed instantly after the restart as Christie-Davies’s floated free-kick ricocheted back off the crossbar, while down the other end Pyke flashed a shot just wide of Baxter’s right-hand post. However, the young Terriers were rewarded for a bright start to the second period as they made it 2-1 after 54 minutes.
Set-pieces have been an occasional thorn in the side for the league team this season and so it proved again as Jack Boyle’s inswinging delivery from the left was flicked on at the front post and then nodded beyond Baxter by captain Spencer.
The visitors’ brief opportunity to level was quickly extinguished, however, as our two-goal cushion was restored within nine minutes. Dasilva plucked a high ball from the December sky and drilled in a cross that Hanson could only divert into his own goal with Abraham lurking.
Maddox threatened twice shortly after his introduction but it wasn’t until the final 10 minutes that Edwards’s side put the gloss on the scoreline and notched six against Huddersfield again. Substitute Ugbo netted the fourth as he prodded in from close range after Abraham’s strike had rebounded back off the post.
Abraham was intent on completing his hat-trick and saw a free-kick tipped on to the crossbar by Turner, before the goalkeeper then denied schoolboy substitute Dujon Sterling following a brilliant flowing move.
Sterling was not to be kept out for long as he produced a composed finish inside the near post after a typical bursting run down the right before Abraham was finally celebrating his third in the last minute of added time as he bundled the ball over the line following Turner saves from Sterling and Ugbo.
It was a fitting end to a night of Chelsea control and ensures the Blues will look forward to a trip either across town to Loftus Road or to Manchester in round four. Meanwhile, our youth team return to action in the Under-18 Premier League this weekend as they round off the calendar year with a trip to Brighton.
Chelsea (3-4-2-1) Nathan Baxter; Fikayo Tomori, Jake Clarke-Salter, Trevoh Chalobah; Charlie Wakefield, Mukhtar Ali, Ruben Sammut (Ike Ugbo 68), Jay Dasilva (Dujon Sterling 78); Isaac Christie-Davies (Jacob Maddox 63), Mason Mount; Tammy Abraham
Unused subs Jared Thompson, Miro Muheim
Scorers Abraham 3, 33, 90+4; Hanson (og) 63; Ugbo 81; Sterling 90+1
Huddersfield Jake Turner, Adam Porritt (Lewis O’Brien h/t), Jordan Williams, Dylan Cogill, Harry Clibbens, Jamie Spencer (c), Jacob Hanson, Regan Booty, Rekeil Pyke (Cedwyn Scott 64), Jack Boyle (Luca Colville 88), Sam Warde
Unused subs Owen Brooke, Callum Elliott
Scorer Spencer 54
Booked Clibbens, Hanson