Youth Cup reaction: Better and better
news Mon 20 Mar 2017
The Chelsea Academy continued their remarkable recent history in the FA Youth Cup by reaching a sixth successive final with a thumping 9-2 aggregate victory over Tottenham Hotspur at the weekend.
Leading 2-1 following the first leg at White Hart Lane, Jody Morris’s side were ruthless at Stamford Bridge on Saturday evening, scoring seven goals on the night as their bid to win a fourth title in a row continued in style.
After the game, Morris reflected on a thumping win over our London rivals: ‘I felt before the game that we might not have to play as well as we did in the first leg to get chances because Tottenham were always going to have to commit bodies forward. I was probably more pleased with our performance at White Hart Lane and we set a good standard for ourselves in that game.
‘We were a little sloppy in areas tonight but when you work as hard as we do off the ball, pressing high to try to win it back, we will always get chances for ourselves from that side of the game. It could have been double figures but you can’t argue with a 7-1 scoreline against Tottenham and I’m extremely proud of the boys.’
Ike Ugbo netted a hat-trick to take him to the top of the Youth Cup scoring charts with eight goals and the striker admitted the players felt the weight of expectation in the competition following our recent dominance. However, the 18-year-old described it as a healthy pressure for him and his teammates to cope with.
‘There’s always a bit of pressure coming into these games, trying to make the final again,’ he said. ‘The older players always joke and say we can’t disappoint everybody but it’s a good pressure for us as a team. We were a bit disappointed with the result after the first leg but we came out with the right mentality because we wanted to score more goals and we did.’
The Blues will likely face a third successive final against Manchester City, who lead 6-0 following the first leg of their own semi-final against Stoke City. While Morris knows his side will need to be at their best, he believes a steady improvement throughout the season stands his side in good stead. The youngsters are also looking to win the Under-18 merit league for the first time, having opened their seven-game campaign with three points against West Ham last time out.
‘We’ve got a lot of players missing who are in extremely good form and that’s the toughest part of the job, picking a 16-man squad let alone a starting 11,’ the manager continued. ‘I like to make changes because I think it keeps people fresh but I also want to play people who are in good form, whether it’s in the Youth Cup or a league game.
‘The boys have got better and better as the season has gone on and hopefully that stands us in good stead for the final, as well as the Under-18 Premier League which we have six more games in. This competition gets all the hype and prestige but we haven’t just focused on one tournament or had one group of players involved all the time and I think that’s a big part of why we’ve improved as a team.’
Our Under-18s return to league action on Saturday 7 April against Manchester United at Cobham. By that time, our Youth Cup final opponents with be confirmed as Stoke host Man City on the evening of Monday 3 April.