The young Blues secured a place in the knockout stages of the U18 Premier League Cup with this win at Cobham.
In the final group-stage game, Ed Brand’s team made sure of top spot thanks to two first-half goals, scored by Armando Broja (pictured above), with his 12th of the season in all competitions and first in this one, and Sam Illing Jr who opened his account.Those were reward for Chelsea having the upper hand before the break, including hitting the post early on, and although Arsenal pulled a goal back late on in a second half of less chances, a side showing five changes from the previous game in this competition were able to see out the victory and claim maximum points in the group.The pattern for the first half was set with 11 minutes played when Lewis Bate crashed a shot against the Arsenal post after Joe Haigh had done well to win the ball midway inside the opposition half.On 16 minutes, it was Bate foraging possession from a very similar spot on the pitch that led to the opening goal. The midfielder fed Broja, fresh from international duty with Albania Under-19s, and although the Arsenal keeper got a hand to the shot, he could not keep it out.Arsenal’s threat up until that point had been limited to when a corner dropped dangerously into our six-yard box before going behind for a goal-kick. After the Chelsea goal, Miguel Azeez cleared the Blues bar with a shot following a rare moment of sloppy play in our defensive third.The powerful Broja showed good movement to work himself another shooting chance midway through the half. That was touched behind for a corner.Arsenal striker Alfie Matthews earned a booking for a foul on Bate who was proving too sharp in the challenge for the Gunners, and Broja forced a near-post save from a tight angle shortly before Ethan Wady in the Chelsea goal scrambled a shot behind for a corner.
The game’s theme of the Blues pressing and nicking the ball from our opponents continued for the second goal, scored in the 37th minute when Illing Jr rifled the ball into the roof of the net, giving Arsenal keeper Hubert Graczyk no chance. The scorer, playing wide on the left, won the ball himself and then had the pace to stay ahead of his pursuer.
Graczyk did make a double save from Simons and Illing Jr before half-time after Arsenal had again lost the ball. The two teams went in at half-time with Chelsea leading 2-0.There was less for the goalkeepers to do after the break but Wady was called on to make a save with an hour gone.The Blues looked poised to add a third goal when Haigh escaped down the right and crossed low but Broja touched it wide with the offside flag up anyway. He was on target and forced a save moments later.There were 12 minutes left on the clock when Daniel Oyegoke found the Chelsea net from a tight angle to turn up the pressure, and Arsenal substitute Luke Plange was not too far away from equalising with three minutes left.The closest we came in the closing stages was a Haigh free-kick deflected over after he had been fouled to bring an end to a penetrating run.Chelsea go into the quarter-finals of the U18 Premier League Cup.Our Under-18s begin our FA Youth Cup campaign on Wednesday 18 December against Huddersfield at Kingsmeadow. Entry is just £3 adults and £1 juniors and seniors.
Chelsea Ethan Wady; 3 Charlie Wiggett, 4 Sam McClelland (c), 5 Levi Colwill; 2 Josh Brooking, 8 Xavier Simons, 6 Lewis Bate, 11 Sam Illing Jr (14 Ben Elliott 82); 10 Myles Peart-Harris (16 Dion Rankine 64), 9 Armando Broja, 7 Joe Haigh.Unused subs: 12 James Clark, 13 Prince Adegoke, 15 Bashir Humphries.Scorers: Broja 16, Illing Jr 37Booked: Broja 68
Arsenal Hubert Graczyk; Daniel Oyegoke, Alex Kirk, Mazeed Ogungbo (c), Joel Lopez; Miguel Azeez, Charlie Patino (Luke Plange 82); Ryan Alebiosu, Sam Greenwood, Nathan Butler-Oyedeji; Alfie Matthews.Unused subs: Matthew Dennis, Remy Mitchell, Zane Monlouis, Catailin Cirjan.Scorer: Oyegoke 78Booked: Matthews 29, Greenwood 76, Ogungbo 88