Under-18s report: Chelsea 2 Leicester 0

A ninth consecutive win in all competitions for our youth team hands them a nine-point lead at the top of the Under-18 Premier League South after goals from Martell Taylor-Crossdale and Charlie Brown settled a competitive contest at Cobham.

Jody Morris opted for two up front and his strikers rewarded that faith by netting the second-half goals that separated the Blues from a spirited Leicester City. A penalty kick 16 minutes into the second half broke the deadlock as Martell Taylor-Crossdale converted before Charlie Brown doubled our lead with a close-range finish 10 minutes later.

The victory takes our youngsters nine points clear of second-placed Arsenal, having played a game more but with only five remaining. A fifth consecutive clean sheet was also secured, thanks in no small part to a super save from Nicolas Tie with the score deadlocked at 0-0, meaning only two goals have been conceded during this nine-game winning streak.

There were seven changes made from our most recent league outing, a 1-0 win at Fulham 11 days previously, and a switch to three in defence with two leading the line in attack. Brown netted the only goal at Motspur Park and retained his place in the team, with Taylor-Crossdale alongside him up front, while Billy Gilmour and Tariq Uwakwe provided the forward support from midfield.

French keeper Tie returned in goal protected by a back three of Marcel Lavinier, Jack Wakely and Marc Guehi, while Tariq Lamptey kept his record of featuring in every Under-18s league game this season by lining up at right wing-back. Clinton Mola was deployed on the opposite flank and Conor Gallagher tasked with the anchoring role in midfield.

Leicester started brightest at drizzly Cobham, putting the hosts under early pressure with a series of set-pieces swung in towards their tall and powerful aerial options. The game’s first clear-cut opportunity was fashioned by the Foxes, a long cross-field ball forward falling kindly for Kairo Edwards-John, who raced towards goal clear from the trailing defenders, though skewed his shot harmlessly wide.

Such chances are significant when you travel to the home of the league leaders, particularly as Morris’s men remain unbeaten at Cobham since April 2015. The Blues lost their captain inside 15 minutes as a crunching tackle in midfield forced the withdrawal of Gallagher, before Uwakwe forced a comfortable save from Jakub Stolarczyk, the Leicester keeper.

The same pair went head-to-head again moments later as Uwakwe found space in the box to fire a stinging drive towards the near post, though the Polish protector produced an impressive reaction save to tip the ball behind. Guehi went close to breaking the deadlock from the resulting corner after Wakely had won the header but his fellow centre-back failed to hit the target arriving late at the back post.

Momentum was difficult to maintain during a stop-start first period, with numerous delays for on-pitch treatment disruptive to the contest’s flow. That suited the visitors, who were looking to build confidence having not won in the league since November, though Lukas Husek needed to time his challenge well to thwart Brown’s progress following a super pass over the top.

Charlie Brown tussles for the ball.

The second half was more eventful from the start and both sides had early chances to establish the advantage. Despite standing shorter than their opponents throughout the team, the hosts continued to threaten in the air and Wakely rose highest to head just wide. Down the other end, a purposeful run from full-back Simran Thandi caused problems and his eventual shot needed saving by Tie, who dived low to his left and pushed the ball round the post.

Morris’s men were bidding to extend their lead at the top of the Under-18 Premier League southern section and Brown went close after battling his way through the Leicester box, though his left-footed effort was dragged just the wrong side of Stolarczyk’s upright. However, an enterprising return from the dressing room was soon rewarded as the leaders made it 1-0 after an hour.

Lamptey was the source of the threat, scampering forward down the right wing before falling under the challenge of a defender right on the 18-yard line. The officials consulted and awarded a penalty, which Taylor-Crossdale stood up to dispatch and claim his 19th goal of the season.

Taylor-Crossdale holds his nerve to slot his penalty into the corner.

The striker netted a hat-trick in our FA Youth Cup thrashing of Fulham last week so his confidence was understandable and set him up to grow increasingly influential. A neat move down the left saw Mola deliver a teasing cross and Taylor-Crossdale’s side-footed volley palmed away by the keeper.

Our number nine turned supplier as we doubled the advantage 10 minutes after taking the lead. Quick thinking from Uwakwe and Taylor-Crossdale from a short corner created the chance, with the latter delivering an inviting ball into the six-yard box to hand his strike partner Brown a simple finish from five yards out.

The quick-fire double broke the resistance of the Foxes and further goals could have been added in the final 15 minutes as Uwakwe and then substitute Tushaun Walters forced Stolarczyk into work. Gilmour delivered an incisive pass to set Lamptey clear late on but the wing-back was denied by another important stop as the winning margin remained at two.

George McEachran battles to win possession in midfield.

Our youngsters are back in league action on Friday night away at Brighton, where they will have the opportunity to go 12 points clear. Kick-off on the south coast is slated for 7pm.


Chelsea (3-5-2) Nicolas Tie; Marcel Lavinier, Jack Wakely, Marc Guehi; Tariq Lamptey, Conor Gallagher (c) (George McEachran 14), Billy Gilmour, Tariq Uwakwe, Clinton Mola; Martell Taylor-Crossdale (Armando Broja 78), Charlie Brown (Tushaun Walters 78)
Unused subs
Jake Askew, Renedi Masampu
Scorers Taylor-Crossdale (pen) 61; Brown 71

Leicester City Jakub Stolarczyk, Rubyn Gill, Simran Thandi, Khanya Leshabela (c) (Tom Fielding 68), Ed Elewa-Ikpakwu, Lukas Husek, Morgan Brown (Allasane Meite 80), Sammie McLeod, Tyrese Shade, Conor Tee, Kairo Edwards-John
Unused subs
Kian Williams, Rhys Davies


-Pictures courtesy of Mark Sandom