Under-18s report: Aston Villa 0 Chelsea 2

Our youngsters kicked off the defence of their Under-18 Premier League crown with a hard-fought victory in the Midlands this morning (Saturday).

A competitive first half saw few clear-cut chances before Charlie Brown and George McEachran netted shortly after the break to seal the points on the opening weekend of the season.

There were debuts for Marcel Lavinier at right-back, Jack Wakely in central defence and schoolboy Tino Anjorin in midfield alongside second-year starts for Marcin Bulka, Marc Guehi, Tariq Uwakwe, George McEachran, Martell Taylor-Crossdale, Brown and captain Conor Gallagher.

Jody Morris’s men started with a back four and a diamond in midfield as McEachran lined up in the more advanced role behind strikers Brown and Taylor-Crossdale. Gallagher, Uwakwe and Anjorin comprised the rest of the midfield, while Lavinier, Guehi, Wakely and Jon Panzo made up the back four and Bulka started in goal.

Villa set themselves up from the start to defend in numbers and threaten on the break, keeping their deep shape organised and committed. The approach allowed the visitors the lion’s share of possession and handed them the challenge of breaking down their opponents, with Taylor-Crossdale’s flicked header forcing the first save of the morning from Kieran Boucher in the home goal.

Brown threatened with a header wide at the back post before the striker’s drive from the left deflected just off-target as the Blues pushed for a breakthrough. Uwakwe was handed a decent opportunity to strike at goal with a free-kick 20 yards out but Boucher did well to stretch to his left and claw the bending strike behind. It handed us one of a series of corners but Villa’s extra height in the box gave them the advantage in winning any aerial duels.

Boucher clawed another curling free-kick away from danger, this time crafted by Gallagher, before Uwakwe delivered the most dangerous delivery of the half just before the interval but his drive across the face of goal evaded teammates in the box.

Morris issued words of advice to his young charges during the break and they returned for the second period with renewed purpose and verve. The introduction of Tariq Lamptey at full-back helped add energy down the right and it was the 16-year-old felled on the wing that led to the opening goal.

McEachran swung the ball towards Anjorin at the far post and the midfielder’s hooked pass back into the six-yard was headed inside the post by the alert Brown, the forward adding to his 10 league goals from last term.

The advantage was extended six minutes later as McEachran moved from provider to finisher. The 16-year-old picked up possession 25 yards out and spotted Boucher’s positioning off-centre on his line, firing low and sweet into the bottom right corner of the net.

With more willingness to shoot on sight in the second period, the defending league and cup champions continued to pepper the Villa goal. Uwakwe saw an effort from 30 yards gathered by the keeper at the second attempt, while Panzo’s deflected strike flew dangerously across goal from the left.

The hosts struggled to provide a threat of their own on the break as Guehi and Wakely coped comfortably with anything they could offer and the Blues ran out deserved and comfortable victors against the only side they failed to beat in last year’s Treble-winning campaign. The youngsters return to league action next weekend with a home game against Reading, live on Chelsea TV.

 

Chelsea (4-diamond-2) Marcin Bulka; Marcel Lavinier (Tariq Lamptey h/t), Marc Guehi, Jack Wakely, Jon Panzo; Conor Gallagher (c), Tariq Uwakwe (Jon Russell 72), Tino Anjorin (Renedi Masampu 84), George McEachran; Charlie Brown, Martell Taylor-Crossdale
Unused subs Jake Askew
Scorers Brown 49; McEachran 55

Aston Villa Kieran Boucher, Charlie McConnachie, Josh Williams, Jack Birch, Ethan Patterson, Dominic Revan, Mason Birch, Jake Walker, Aaron Pressley (Michael Tait 59), Jacob Ramsey, Ben Guy
Unused subs Viktor Johansson, Mungo Bridge, Luke Ige, Isaiah Bazeley-Graham

GOALS: Aston Villa U18s (A) 17/18

Highlights 12/08/2017