It was a perfect performance from Chelsea Under-18s who progressed through to the next round in this evening's FA Youth Cup fixture against Huddersfield Town at Kingsmeadow.
Ed Brand's young Blues secured a safe passage through to the Youth Cup fourth round under the watchful eye of first team coaching staff Jody Morris and Joe Edwards, as well as former Youth Cup winner Reece James, who cheered on the boys from Kingsmeadow.
We were ahead inside the first minute thanks to Armando Broja's finish after being threaded through the defensive line by Tino Livramento. Ian Maatsen should have made it two soon after but was well denied from close range. The Dutchman was involved in the build-up for our second though, where Broja assisted Myles Peart-Harris' finish from a wide angle.
Broja recorded another two goals after the break to seal his hat-trick, the first was converted from close range following Maatsen's cross and the final goal of the evening came just before he was replaced, a left-footed drive that beat the Huddersfield keeper and saw the Blues through to the fourth round of the competition. Bradford City are our opponents at home next.
Brand made six changes for this evening’s opening FA Youth Cup tie from the team who put eight beyond Swansea City in their last PL2 outing. Henry Lawrence, Dynel Simeu, Maatsen and Livramento all took a place in defence, while midfielder Tino Anjorin captained the side with Broja leading the line.
It was a wet affair at Kingsmeadow but the weather conditions didn’t put the Blues off making a quick start, finding the net inside the opening minute. Livramento won the ball back in midfield and slipped in frontman Broja, who rounded the keeper and found the net with just 58 seconds on the clock. What a start it was for Brand’s boys.
It could have so nearly been two as this time Anjorin picked out Maatsen’s run in behind the Terriers’ defence. The Dutchman fired at goal with his first touch but goalkeeper Giosue Bellagambi closed down the angle rapidly to make the save.
Huddersfield were pegged back in their own half and didn’t see much possession inside the first 20 minutes. Their opening attempt came as a surprise and was hit from distance, almost crawling inside the post as Jake Askew stretched across his goal to cover Sam Sharrock-Peplow’s drive.
Our patience paid off however and it was soon two. Broja this time turned provider as he raced on to Maatsen’s through ball and got there before Bellagambi did - the Albanian international found team-mate Peart-Harris to his right, but the chance looked gone as the wet surface took the ball wide. Off balance, the attacking midfielder was able to find the target from an acute angle and it was 2-0 Blues.
It was all Chelsea as the half-hour mark approached and Peart-Harris was hungry for more it seemed. Livramento’s deflected effort landed at the midfielder’s feet but the first-time volley was high and wide of the target as the search for our third was on.
Five minutes remained of the first half and Huddersfield had their second attempt of the evening. Kian Harratt struck a well-hit shot at Askew’s goal which required the Chelsea stopper to re-adjust his feet to make the save.
It was a similar start to the second half for Chelsea as Livramento found himself in the penalty area with the ball at his feet. However, after cutting on to his left foot, he floated the ball at goal and Bellagambi made the save look comfortable.
It took a little over 10 minutes for Chelsea to warm up and get their third and it came courtesy of Broja who notched his second of the evening. Maatsen crossed the ball into a dangerous area where the forward connected with it to divert play home. Passage seemed secured after an hour's play.
Peart-Harris should have doubled his tally moments later after stealing possession inside his own area but seemed too relaxed with the finish and cleared the stand behind the goal. That was a huge chance for the midfielder to secure his brace.
Brand made two changes as the Blues looked comfortable enough to see the game out - Anjorin and Peart-Harris made way for Marcel Lewis and Joe Haigh in like-for-like swaps.
Broja, who seemed at the heart of all Chelsea attacks, grabbed his third of the evening after 80 minutes of play. A quick Lewis free-kick caught out the entire Huddersfield team and allowed Broja to advance on goal from wide before he fired a left-footed drive out of reach and into the corner of the net.
His last piece of involvement saw a looping cross headed towards goal by Xavier Simons but the midfielder was denied by Bellagambi’s diving save. The Albania youth international was withdrawn moments later as George Nunn came on as his replacement.
A tired Huddersfield side could have made matters worse for themselves deep into injury time when Haigh went down under challenge in the box and the referee awarded the Blues a penalty.
Bate stepped up to take the kick but the strike contained so much power that it cannoned back off the woodwork and away from danger. Our final attempt saw a similar conclusion, Lewis lined up a shot from distance but was denied by the underside of the bar.
That saw the end of an impressive Chelsea performance in the FA Youth Cup at Kingsmeadow. Bradford now await Brand's team in the next round of the competition, which will be played in the New Year.
Chelsea (3-4-2-1): Jake Askew; Sam McClelland, Dynel Simeu, Ian Maatsen; Henry Lawrence, Lewis Bate, Xavier Simons, Valentino Livramento; Myles Peart-Harris (Joe Haigh 72), Faustino Anjorin (c) (Marcel Lewis 72); Armando Broja (George Nunn 86)Unused subs: Levi Colwill, Prince Adegoke, Thierno Ballo, Dion RankineScorer: Broja 1,58, 80; Peart-Harris 22
Huddersfield: Giosue Bellagambi, Jaheim Headley, Luke Daley, Loick Ayina, Mustapha Olagunju, Ben Midgley (Gulutte Zunda 71), Myles Bright, Josh Austerfield (c), Kian Harratt, Brahima Diarra, Sam Sherrock-Peplow (Nasim Kherboce 90)Unused subs: Josh Okpolokpo, Luke Billam, Robson Shipley, Darnell Baxter-Alleyne, Nasim Kherboce, Michael RoxburghReferee: Shelby Elson
-Additional pictures by Mark Sandom