Following a dominant display at White Hart Lane last night (Tuesday), our Under-18s hold the advantage over Tottenham in the FA Youth Cup semi-final ahead of the Stamford Bridge return this weekend.
Headed goals from Reece James and Ike Ugbo gave us a 2-0 advantage at half-time before Spurs keeper Brandon Austin kept his side in the tie with a string of impressive saves in the second period. Kazaiah Sterling then netted a goal two minutes from time that leaves the semi-final finely balanced.
After the game, youth team boss Jody Morris was full of praise for the efforts of his young charges.
‘I was really pleased and proud watching the boys,’ he told the official Chelsea website. ‘We dominated a good Tottenham side and looked excellent at times, following our game plan well and sticking to our jobs, even those players who were asked to play a slightly different role than they’re used to.
‘You’d think we would be happy with a performance like that and a 2-1 win at White Hart Lane but there is probably a little disappointment that we didn’t win by more goals, with the amount of chances we created and the control we had in the game.’
Austin was a big reason behind that, although Morris also felt his side lacked a clinical, ruthless streak in the final third that could have finished Spurs off by the midway point of the tie.
‘He had a great night but we did make it easier for him at times,’ the manager said of the home goalkeeper. ‘There were a few chances we should have put away but there were others where he got down to make an amazing couple of saves. You get those nights, we’ve seen it before when you come up against a keeper who’s having the night of his life but the fact their best player was the goalkeeper and they still lost the match just shows how well we played.
‘We should have scored five or six but we just got a little lax in the final third. Sometimes the final pass was off or sometimes the final ball was great but people were not getting on the end of it because they were hanging out on the edge of the box. There was not a lot wrong with the performance other than perhaps our finishing.’
Luke McCormick’s penalty could have put more daylight between the two London rivals but the midfielder’s effort from 12 yards in added time thumped the post and leaves the semi-final evenly poised. The second leg takes place at Stamford Bridge this Saturday, kick-off 5.15pm, and Morris hopes supporters will take the opportunity to come down and support his players. Tickets are currently available to purchase online.
‘It keeps the tie alive and keeps people on their toes,’ he continued. ‘I don’t think we would have taken our foot off the gas anyway but now we’re definitely not in a position to think we can walk out at the Bridge on Saturday and cruise through the game.
‘We’ll need to do the basics but the beauty of a two-legged affair is Spurs have the opportunity now to make a few changes, tweak a few things and come up with a different game plan. We need to make sure we’re ready for that but if we play like we did tonight, I’m certain we’ll be okay.
‘It’s probably not ideal for some of the fans with the game being on a Saturday and the first team playing but hopefully the supporters not making the trip to Stoke will come down to the Bridge instead. We were pleased there were some fans at White Hart Lane; we could hear them, it was really good of them to come down and we’d love a few more at Stamford Bridge.’
Chelsea versus Tottenham in the FA Youth Cup semi-final second leg takes place this Saturday 18 March at Stamford Bridge, kick-off 5.15pm. Supporters can still purchase tickets online priced at £5 for adults and £3 for concessions. Tickets go off sale at 5pm on Friday 17 March. Please note there will be no tickets sold on the day of the match.