Under-18s report: Chelsea 5 Swansea 1

It was a five-star show from our youngsters at Cobham as they recorded a fourth consecutive win to extend their lead at the top of the Under-18 Premier League South to nine points.

Charlie Brown opened the scoring early on and further goals from Conor Gallagher, Tariq Uwakwe and Marc Guehi made it 4-0 by the break. Swansea reduced the deficit shortly after the restart but Marcel Lewis’s excellent free-kick late on put the finishing touch on an impressive performance.

There were five changes from our last Under-18s action a fortnight previously as Nicolas Tie, Marcel Lavinier, Jon Russell, Brown and Marcel Lewis all came into the side, the latter making his maiden youth team start. It was a return to four at the back as Tariq Lamptey, Lavinier, Guehi and Jon Panzo lined up right to left in front of Tie.

Russell, George McEachran and captain Gallagher comprised the midfield trio, while Uwakwe and Lewis supported striker Brown from out wide. The Blues had beaten the visitors 5-0 in four of their previous five meetings, though this was a Swansea side in strong form having won their past four league games and jumped to fourth in the table.

However, as so often at Cobham, Morris’s men made a frantic start to proceedings and established an advantage inside 10 minutes. Lavinier had earlier warmed the palms of Alex Lang, the goalkeeper, with a low strike from outside the box but it was the vision of Russell and composure of Brown that unlocked the Welsh defence moments later. Russell lifted a perfect pass over the top and Brown trapped it down before slotting an expert finish into the bottom far corner.

This was not a contest that went entirely the way of the hosts though and Guehi was in the perfect position to clear off the line from Oliver Cooper less than a minute after we had taken the lead. Panzo then rose high to head clear a deep free-kick swung in from the left, initiating a counter-attack that ended with Lang denying Lamptey courtesy of a smart save.

Matthew Blake advanced from left-back for the visitors after a quarter of an hour but could not keep his rising effort down after moving threateningly into the box. The Swans had responded well to falling behind but their resolve was soon broken further as we reignited our creative spark in the final third.

Uwakwe forced a save from Lang after another inviting pass in behind the back four before the skipper doubled our lead with his seventh goal of the campaign. Much of the hard work was put in by Lamptey, who used his natural quick footwork to skip beyond two defenders before laying off for Gallagher to place a powerful strike beyond the keeper.

Picture courtesy of Mark Sandom.

The hosts are unbeaten in any competition since October and were looking to maximise playing first this weekend by piling the pressure on the chasing pack in the league. Brown juggled a high ball in the box but could only volley over the crossbar before Uwakwe made it 3-0 after 34 minutes, jinking in between defenders before rifling an impressive finish high into the net.

Swansea were desperate for the half-time break, a chance to regroup and plot a way to stem the flow of Chelsea attacks, but stopping the home side’s momentum was proving difficult. Brown threatened again with a shot that brought a good diving save from Lang while Lamptey, quickest to race to the loose ball on the rebound, saw his effort bounce narrowly wide.

The margin of advantage was four before the interval. The Swans failed to clear a corner delivered from the right and Lewis kept the danger alive by supplying from the opposite flank, his precise cross contested in the air by Lang and Guehi, with our centre-back heading in.

The 4-0 scoreline hardly flattered Morris’s side, who had been direct with their attacking play and clinical in front of goal. Lewis might have done better with a chance straight from the restart but could only force a routine save on his weaker right side.

Our youngsters had kept 12 clean sheets from 20 games so far this term but a third successive home shutout was denied seven minutes after the restart. A set-piece delivery caused problems in our 18-yard box and Cooper was on hand to head past Tie, handing the visitors small hope of a comeback.

There was markedly less action in the second period as the visitors pressed higher and forced us into errors on the ball. Lamptey continued to show bright touches and beat men down the right, while McEachran and Russell offered control in central areas. Morris introduced additional attacking options from the bench in the form of Martell Taylor-Crossdale and Tushaun Walters but it wasn’t until late on that we added a fifth.

Walters burst forward through the middle and won a free-kick five yards outside of the penalty area, prime territory for schoolboy Lewis to bend a brilliant strike into the corner for his first youth team goal.

Our Under-18s are back in action on Tuesday evening as they bid to reach the FA Youth Cup quarter-finals away at Tottenham. Kick-off at Stevenage’s Lamex Stadium is 7pm.

 

Chelsea (4-3-3) Nicolas Tie; Tariq Lamptey, Marcel Lavinier, Marc Guehi, Jon Panzo; Jon Russell, Conor Gallagher (c), George McEachran (Renedi Masampu 82); Tariq Uwakwe (Tushaun Walters 74), Charlie Brown (Martell Taylor-Crossdale 74), Marcel Lewis
Unused subs
Karlo Ziger, Dynel Simeu
Scorers
Brown 8; Gallagher 27; Uwakwe 34; Guehi 44; Lewis 84

Swansea City Alex Lang, Finley Hazell (Marc Walsh 57), Matthew Blake, Tom Price, Ben Cabango, Brandon Cooper (c), Mason Jones-Thomas, Joe Lewis, Shaq Wynter-Coles (Bradley Gibbings 68), Oliver Cooper, Kees de Boer (Jack Fox 68)
Unused subs
Cameron Evans, Nathan Shepperd
Scorer Cooper 52