The Under-18s cruised into the fifth round of the FA Youth Cup with a five-goal triumph over Bradford at Aldershot on Wednesday night.
The goals kept on coming for the Blues who were ruthless in attack. Armando Broja broke the deadlock after nine minutes and had an argument to claim the second, which was eventually credited to Marcel Lewis, as well.
Midfielder Lewis doubled his tally after 65 minutes but that was after Henry Lawrence opened his account in the FA Youth Cup. Our final goal came from substitue Thierno Ballo, he wrapped up the evening's scoring on 67 minutes.
There were six changes for Ed Brand’s team tonight as Chelsea shuffled the pack for the return of the FA Youth Cup. Centre-back Dynel Simeu captained the side in Tino Anjorin’s absence – the midfielder is returning from an injury and found today came too soon to feature.
Henry Lawrence and Ian Maatsen were our full-backs, both of whom have featured heavily for Andy Myers’ development squad and will provide important support for our young defence.
Meanwhile Levi Colwill replaced Sam McClelland in the heart of defence for his first FA Youth Cup appearance.
It was an overcast and chilly night at the EBB Stadium. Bradford got us going but immediately surrendered possession to the Blues who enjoyed the majority of it in the opening stages – Armando Broja and Tino Livramento in particular looked lively in attack.
Despite not having much luck with the ball, a quick counter-attack almost gifted the visitors an opener. Daniel Francis pounced upon a loose ball in the box and forced Jake Askew into an impressive spread save from close range. The rebound fell kindly for the winger though, who will be disappointed with the effort that followed which cleared the target.
Bradford’s missed chance proved to be a wake-up call for the Blues as our domination eventually told. Broja took nine minutes to add to his competition tally. He swept home Livramento’s low centre after good work on the right wing from the midfielder. That marked four goals in two FA Youth Cup games for the Albania Under-21 international.
It was almost two moments later, Broja involved again as his header from point-blank range was excellently tipped away by visiting keeper Jack Barrett, who had experienced a very difficult opening quarter.
Thankfully it didn’t take long before we did double the score. A busy Broja saw his strike from range blocked by the keeper but the power on the shot took the ball bouncing towards an empty net where Marcel Lewis raced on to it to make sure it crossed the line. 2-0 Chelsea with Lewis credited for the goal – his first ever in the competition and fourth of the current season.
We were two goals ahead and in full control come the half-hour point. Xavier Simons and Lewis Bate tested Barrett as our midfield men saw plenty of the ball during a less lively spell in the game.
The third round’s potent attacking combination of Myles Peart-Harris and Broja almost struck again, the former’s teasing cross was directed inches wide of the target by the in-form striker who vented his frustration at missing the target. We entered the break with a two-goal lead.
The second half started quickly with Chelsea picking up from where we left off. Lewis had an effort from range saved before Peart-Harris’ rebound was tipped wide by Barrett. It was promising from the goal-hungry Blues.
Meanwhile, Askew was called into action down the other end and reacted quickly to get his body in the way of a close-range effort which looked to give Bradford a way back into the game.
Right-back Henry Lawrence made it three without reply seven minutes after the interval and it was the perfect response to Bradford’s missed chance a few moments earlier.
Lawrence himself started the move in his own half, finding Livramento in an advanced position. The latter then squeezed a pass into the box where Simons cleverly helped it on into the path of Lawrence who continued his run and fired into the net at the near post. His first FA Youth Cup goal put the Blues out of reach of our opponents.
The hour mark brought a Chelsea change. Brand replaced Peart-Harris with Thierno Ballo in a like-for-like midfield swap.
We matched the tally achieved against Huddersfield in the previous round on 65 minutes and it was Lewis on the scoresheet again – this time with a goal that was clearly his own. After reacting first to a Bradford mistake, the attacking midfield man fired into the bottom corner from 25 yards with the ball kissing the post on its way in.
We didn’t stop there though and it was soon five for Chelsea. Newly-introduced Ballo watched his heavily deflected shot wrong foot Barrett and land in the back of the net. There was clear daylight between the sides as just over 20 minutes remained.
Livramento was given a rest after 70 minutes with Dion Rankine being introduced in a straight swap – the latter’s first career Youth Cup appearance.
Chelsea professionally saw out the remainder of the game and secured passage into the next round of the FA Youth Cup.
In his preview, Brand challenged his team to score more goals going forward and he will be pleased with the response as they cruised into the fifth round after recording another five goals tonight.
Our visitors in the fifth round will be decided tomorrow evening upon conclusion of a tie between Crystal Palace and Wolves. Meanwhile the Under-18s have a quick turnaround as they return to action on Saturday afternoon when they take on Aston Villa, 12 noon kick-off.
Chelsea (4-2-3-1) Jake Askew; Henry Lawrence, Dynel Simeu (c), Levi Colwill, Ian Maatsen; Lewis Bate, Xavier Simons (Bashir Humphreys 77); Valentino Livramento (Dion Rankine 70), Myles Peart-Harris (Thierno Ballo 61), Marcel Lewis; Armando BrojaUnused subs Sam McClelland, Ethan Wady, George Nunn, Joe HaighScorers Broja 9 Lewis 15 & 65, Lawrence 52, Ballo 67
Bradford Jack Barrett, Hayden Smethurst (c) (Harvey Rowe 67), Reece Staunton, Eliot Goldthorp, Jorge Sikora, Finn Cousin-Dawson, Daniel Francis, Kian Scales, Connor Morris (Jack Wilson 61), Charlie Wood, Wade Ripley (Oliver Sukiennicki 58)Unused subs Oliver Norman, Tom Donaghy, Harvey Rowe, Johnny White, George ThewlisBooked Sikora 85, Goldthorpe
Referee Michael Ryan