Under-18s reaction: Springboard for success

Jody Morris praised the work of his side out of possession and called on them to use their first trophy triumph of the season as a springboard to further silverware success as they were crowned winners of the inaugural Under-18 Premier League Cup.

Our youngsters hosted Tottenham at snow-covered Cobham in the final on Sunday afternoon and produced a dominant display to claim the victory against their London rivals, with Charlie Brown’s brace proving the difference between the sides.

After watching his young charges lift the trophy, Morris reflected on significant victories in the north-east and north-west earlier in the competition, while urging his team to use the feeling of success to motivate themselves further ahead of upcoming tests in the FA Youth Cup and Under-18 Premier League.

‘These type of trophies are not just won in the final,’ Morris told the official Chelsea website, ‘but at Everton away in the last round, when we travelled up there with a few players missing and dug in to win 1-0, and away at Sunderland in the quarter-final when we needed extra-time to win in pretty horrible conditions.

‘We said before the game that there’s four trophies available for us this year and it’s a good feeling to get the first one because it gives confidence throughout the group, especially for the players who don’t often get to test themselves in such important games. Those boys produced today on a big stage, which will give us more selection options for the rest of the season, and hopefully we can use it as a springboard.’

The manager admitted there was room for improvement from his side on the ball but praised their commitment and quality out of possession. Their constant hassling of the visitors created numerous chances while a sixth clean sheet in seven games ensured the victory was safe.

‘I felt there were spells where we needed to use the ball better,’ he admitted. ‘We were a bit cheap in possession and turned the ball over too easily but off the ball we were excellent. We pressed high really well early in the game and our energy was good to get after the ball but we also plugged spaces and gaps when we couldn’t get after it.

‘That was the most pleasing aspect of the performance for me, even though we created a lot of chances and should have won by more goals. We made a point beforehand that if we defended well from the front and kept their chances to a minimum, we would always fancy ourselves to score.’

The goals came courtesy of striker Brown, who notched his 17th and 18th of the campaign before half-time. With other frontman options available, Morris explained the thinking behind selecting the 18-year-old to lead the line in attack.

‘Charlie always seems to be the one who misses out when there’s a big game or when there’s a few more bodies available for selection,’ Morris continued. ‘He’s had some ups and downs this season, like all three of the strikers, but he’s been in good form lately and he’s our top scorer in this competition. Myself and Ed [Brand, Under-18s assistant] felt it was the right time to go with him and he repaid that with his two goals.’

Brown himself was naturally pleased after the game, though he pointed to the collective efforts of his team-mates in contributing to the success.

‘I’m obviously buzzing and really pleased to score two goals in a final on a personal note but the team performance was really good and we’re just delighted to get the win and the trophy,’ said the striker. ‘It was a good confidence boost to start the game because there’s a lot of competition for places and we’re all pushing each other, which is good because it brings the best out of us.

It’s been a good competition for us – when you play the northern teams it’s a different type of test but as a group we’ve adapted to the different challenges really well and grinded out some big results.

photo of Charlie Brown Charlie Brown

‘Tottenham are a very good side and keep the ball well but off the ball I thought we did extremely well, especially to keep another clean sheet. It’s been a good competition for us – when you play the northern teams it’s a different type of test but as a group we’ve adapted to the different challenges really well and grinded out some big results.

‘Jody was saying to us not to fall at the first hurdle. This is our first trophy of the season and should give us the confidence to go on and keep winning more.’