Under-18s reaction: Second-half springboard
news Wed 7 Mar 2018
It was tougher than it needed to be, according to manager Jody Morris, but our youngsters took one step closer to retaining their southern league title with a 2-0 victory over Leicester City at Cobham.
The young Blues are closing in on three years unbeaten in all competitions at home, though the Foxes tested our resolve with a battling performance. It took until the hour mark for the hosts to break the deadlock, Martell Taylor-Crossdale notching from the penalty spot, before Charlie Brown added a second to seal the points 10 minutes later.
After the game, Morris reflected on an unusual afternoon in which his players secured the points but were below-par in doing so, failing to build momentum in the first half and settle into their normal free-flowing game.
‘We were poor in the first half, well below our usual levels of performance,’ Morris told the official Chelsea website. ‘Our decision-making on the ball and technical quality was not good enough – any time we had an opportunity to hurt the opposition, either the first touch let us down or we made the wrong decision.
‘I said to the players at half-time I was bored watching them. The fact it was a Tuesday lunchtime kick-off was maybe a bit strange for them and not the same routine they’re used to but it was a flat performance. When the opposition are slowing the game down and there are long breaks for injuries, it upsets the tempo but it’s down to us to drive it.’
Morris’s blunt debrief with the team at the interval provided the springboard to improve, though an excellent save from his goalkeeper at a crucial time in the contest proved significant and preserved our fifth consecutive clean sheet.
‘We improved after half-time, created a lot more chances and should have scored more goals,’ the manager continued. ‘Having said that, while we got another clean sheet, it was well-deserved because Nicolas Tie made a brilliant save at 0-0, which could have turned the game a different way if it had gone in.'
A fourth Under-18 Premier League southern title in a row is now in sight for our youngsters, who extended their lead over Arsenal at the top of the table to nine points. If victorious against the Seagulls later this week and then again when Southampton visit Cobham early next month, Morris’s men could win the league with an away win against the Gunners on Tuesday 10 April.
However, the manager admitted there is still plenty of work to do before then, starting with a challenging trip to the south coast.
‘We addressed the fact it was a slightly different week for the boys,’ Morris explained, ‘playing on Tuesday then Friday, but we wanted to target getting to the weekend with another six points on the board towards what we hope will be retaining our southern title. We’re halfway there after this first win but we probably let our standards drop and need to bounce back quickly.
‘Going to Brighton is always difficult. We had to win it late against them last year and it’s a tough place to go, particularly for an evening game. We’ve been playing really well recently so you don’t mind having a bit of an off-day so long as we react in the right way on Friday.’