Under-18s report: Chelsea 2 Norwich 0

Our youngsters extended their advantage at the top of the Under-18 Premier League South, albeit in scrappy fashion at a wet and cold Cobham.

Jody Morris’s side scored in both halves but were on the back-foot for much of the contest, forced into determined defending and reliant on some good goalkeeping. Tino Anjorin’s fifth goal of the season handed us the lead after half hour and Marcel Lavinier wrapped up the points late on to make it 10 games unbeaten in all competitions for the Blues.

There were seven changes made from our emphatic Youth Cup victory in midweek, with Morris utilising the full depth of options available to him. Marc Guehi and Jon Panzo retained their spots in the back four, with the latter shifting to left-back, and were joined by Lavinier and Jack Wakely in front of goalkeeper Karlo Ziger.

Martell Taylor-Crossdale, our leading scorer across all development competitions this season, returned up front supported by Tariq Lamptey, Billy Gilmour and Anjorin, while Clinton Mola partnered Jon Russell in central midfield.

After dropping home league points last weekend for the first time in a year, the young Blues were aiming to make a swift return to winning ways at Cobham, though Norwich were determined to make life as difficult as possible. Trailing nine places behind Morris’s table-toppers, the Canaries made a purposeful start in the Surrey drizzle.

Adam Idah flicked on a header for Max Aarons, who fired wide of the far post on the half-volley within the first two minutes, before Panzo was forced to make an excellent sliding recovery tackle to thwart the advance of striker Anthony Spyrou.

Lamptey had acted as a constant thorn in the side of West Brom on Wednesday and the 17-year-old continued to pose an attacking threat down the right flank. An early shot was saved by Ryan Dickerson, who then kicked the loose ball from danger as Gilmour waited to pounce, before Lamptey delivered for Taylor-Crossdale to head just wide.

These two sides had exchanged an impressive 28 goals in their previous five meetings and this contest was similarly open. Ziger sprung off his line to deny Spyrou on the edge of his 18-yard box, while Wakely had to stretch high to head clear Alfie Payne’s teasing free-kick.

The deadlock was broken after half hour as schoolboy Anjorin bagged his third goal in as many games. A heavy challenge in midfield angered the visitors but the referee allowed play to continue and our 16-year-old midfielder burst forward before steering his finish into the bottom corner. It was a somewhat harsh deficit for Norwich but a sign of this Chelsea side’s durability and ruthless streak.

Schoolboy Anjorin's fifth goal of the season broke the deadlock at Cobham.

Lamptey almost teed up a second for Anjorin moments later but the wideman’s low cross just evaded his teammate in the box. However, the hosts ought to have paused for half-time with a 2-0 advantage as a point-blank header was fashioned for Russell but the midfielder aimed straight at the grateful Dickerson.

Morris was forced into a switch at the interval with a knock forcing the withdrawal of the lively Lamptey. Juan Castillo was introduced and involved straight away, flicking on a header in midfield for Taylor-Crossdale, though the striker’s effort deflected off-target.

Mola then forced a comfortable save from the Canaries stopper before Ziger produced an impressive moment of goalkeeping down the other end to keep our lead intact. Spyrou acted as the visitors’ danger man once again, forcing a smart initial stop before our Croatian keeper reacted quickly to keep the number nine’s rebound out as well.

Norwich continued to push forward for the equaliser and caused frequent problems for the hosts. Panzo made a crucial block in the box to keep Spyrou’s shot from danger and it was the bright forward again working Ziger moments later. Full-back Bilal Kamal advanced and exchanged passes with Spyrou, who fired a low ball across the face of goal that our keeper pounced on smartly.

Scottish midfielder Gilmour battles for possession in midfield before providing the assist for our second goal.

The new-look Blues back three defended the penalty area in determined fashion but the league leaders could not stem the flow of attacks they were faced up against. Guehi won headers in the air while Wakely covered the front post intelligently to clear a dangerous delivery from the right.

There was little to separate these two sides but the Blues sealed the points with a second goal on the break five minutes from time. A long ball forward for Taylor-Crossdale fell kindly to Gilmour and the Glaswegian midfielder picked out a perfect pass to find the overlapping Lavinier down the right. The defender had Taylor-Crossdale free in the middle but opted to shoot, firing low and inside the near post for his second goal of the season.

With second-place Arsenal in Youth Cup action at Anfield later in the afternoon, the victory takes our youngsters nine points clear at the top of the southern section and extends our unbeaten home record in all competitions to 51 matches. The next outing is a trip to Sunderland in the Under-18 Premier League Cup quarter-finals on Saturday 27 January.

Before then, our development squad are in action at Stamford Bridge in the last-eight of the Checkatrade Trophy. Oxford United are the visitors to SW6 for a 7.30pm kick-off this Tuesday 23 January and tickets remain on general sale (maximum of 10 tickets per person) priced at £5 for adults and £3 for concessions (under-20s and over-65s).

Supporters who purchase tickets will need to collect them from the ticket office on the day of the match. Tickets will go off sale online, with telesales and to personal callers at 4pm on the day of the game.

 

Chelsea (4-2-3-1) Karlo Ziger; Marcel Lavinier, Marc Guehi (c), Jack Wakely, Jon Panzo; Clinton Mola, Jon Russell (George McEachran 65); Tariq Lamptey (Juan Castillo h/t), Billy Gilmour, Tino Anjorin (Marcel Lewis 81); Martell Taylor-Crossdale
Unused subs Nicolas Tie, Charlie Brown
Scorers Anjorin 29; Lavinier 85

Norwich City Ryan Dickerson, Jordan Thomas (Connor Parsons h/t), Bilal Kamal, Aaron Ekumah, Timi Odusina, Alfie Payne, Max Aarons, Finlay Barnes, Anthony Spyrou, Adam Idah, Jaden Thompson-Brissett (Anis Mehmeti 74)
Unused subs Sam Blair, Spencer Keller, Ayo Tanimowo

 

-Pictures courtesy of Graeme Reeves