Youth Cup report: Tottenham 0 Chelsea 2

Our Under-18s continued a determined defence of their FA Youth Cup crown as goals early in both halves settled an away London derby and saw them advance to the quarter-finals for the ninth year in a row.

It will be a trip to Fulham next for Jody Morris’s youngsters after Dujon Sterling fired them in front inside 15 minutes before Marc Guehi doubled the lead shortly after the restart.

Morris made four changes from the thumping 7-0 victory against West Bromwich Albion in the last round. Martell Taylor-Crossdale scored our stoppage-time seventh against the Baggies and the striker returned to lead the attack supported by Tariq Uwakwe and George McEachran in a reworked 3-4-3 system.

Jamie Cumming retained his place in goal behind a trio of Reece James, Guehi and Jon Panzo, while Juan Castillo and Sterling operated as wing-backs and Conor Gallagher partnered Billy Gilmour in central midfield. Callum Hudson-Odoi and Ethan Ampadu, both eligible for this competition as first-year scholars, remained with the first team squad.

Tottenham made just one change from their 3-0 win at Bournemouth in round four, Tashan Oakley-Boothe returning in midfield. The 17-year-old was one of six England Under-17 World Cup winners to start on a rainy evening in Stevenage, where the pitch bore all the signs of a hectic League Two schedule.

The hosts began on the front foot, pushing high into our half to put defenders under pressure in possession in the opening minutes. However, Morris’s men fashioned the first chance at goal as Taylor-Crossdale turned provider from the right and McEachran flashed a header beyond the far post.

The holders settled and looked to exploit the full width and depth of the field, utilising Sterling and Castillo in wide areas. Uwakwe found the central space created by widening the pitch but his shot from distance flew harmlessly over and out of the ground, through the construction site that provided the backdrop to Jonathan de Bie’s goal where the terrace stand once stood.

It was down the flanks and through our wing-back pair that we unlocked the Spurs defence inside 15 minutes. Castillo advanced dangerously down the left and his deep delivery was cleared only as far as Sterling, who lashed a fierce drive across goal and into the far corner for his first Youth Cup goal of the campaign.

It was an impressive finish from the defender looking to join the illustrious list of three-time winners in this competition, though there was a blow suffered by the visitors shortly afterwards as Uwakwe was forced out of the action after falling awkwardly in a tackle. Tino Anjorin, the schoolboy midfielder who represented the latest batch of England Under-17s at the Algarve Tournament last week, replaced him in a like-for-like swap.

The change did little to disrupt our momentum as the half progressed. Gallagher stole possession and led a dangerous counter-attack forward, though his pass for Sterling was read and cleared behind by the alert Jamie Reynolds. From the resulting corner swung in by McEachran, Gallagher won the first header and Guehi the second, though Spurs managed to scramble clear the danger.

Much of our threat was fashioned down the right as both Sterling and James found space to put teasing crosses into the 18-yard box. De Bie, Tottenham’s Belgian keeper, sprung off his line to grasp James’s centre before Taylor-Crossdale turned another from the centre-back into the back of the net, though his celebrations were cut short by the linesman’s flag.

Two former Chelsea first team midfielders engineered from the dugouts but it was Scott Parker’s side who ended the half the brightest. James did well to rise high and head clear from J’Neil Bennett’s cross before Cumming caught Tariq Hinds’s effort closely into his midriff in added time.

Bennett offered a warning sign shortly after the restart, though his final effort after a mazy run rose too high to trouble Cumming in the Chelsea goal. Down the other end, McEachran cleverly used the overlapping run of Sterling to create space infield and his drive from 20 yards out deflected just a yard wide of the upright.

Picture courtesy of Mark Sandom.

Yet Spurs were unable to recover and fell further behind from the following set-piece. McEachran’s delivery was deep but retrieved by James, who picked out Gallagher in space. The midfielder’s quick shot was blocked but the loose ball fell kindly for Guehi, who drilled his finish low and into the bottom corner, leaving the goalkeeper with no chance.

A two-goal advantage placed the visitors firmly in the driving seat but this contest is renowned for goals at youth team level and that ensured Chelsea kept full focus. It could have been 3-0 after 55 minutes after McEachran, increasing in influence, threaded a pass forward for Taylor-Crossdale, though the striker was thwarted by a smart save from De Bie.

Morris made a striker swap for the final 20 minutes, introducing the pace of Daishawn Redan, the Dutch forward in prolific goalscoring form. It almost paid instant dividends as Redan carried the ball forward towards retreating defenders before a deflected shot looped up and landed on the roof of the net.

The Blues threatened again from the following corner, a clever routine that saw McEachran’s low delivery dummied by Anjorin and fired towards goal by James, though another deflection took the ball’s flight narrowly away from the far corner.

Just as before the break, Tottenham rallied towards the half’s conclusion and James was forced to head clear off the line from Timothy Eyoma after a corner found its way through to the centre-half. Cumming then produced three impressive flying saves late on to preserve our clean sheet record in the competition this term, denying Paris Maghoma from distance before clawing out Phoenix Patterson’s free-kick as it bent towards his near post and then keeping out Bennett’s curling effort.

Substitute Tariq Lamptey could have added a third with his first touch after coming on but volleyed over Castillo’s cross from close range. Yet nothing could dampen the mood for the Blues after another impressive evening in the Youth Cup, where their bid to win it for a record-equalling fifth successive time continues.

 

Chelsea (3-4-3) Jamie Cumming; Reece James (c), Marc Guehi, Jon Panzo; Dujon Sterling, Conor Gallagher, Billy Gilmour, Juan Castillo; Tariq Uwakwe (Tino Anjorin 28), Martell Taylor-Crossdale (Daishawn Redan 69), George McEachran (Tariq Lamptey 85)
Unused subs Karlo Ziger, Marcel Lavinier
Scorers Sterling 14; Guehi 49
Booked Gallagher 45; Anjorin 88

Tottenham Jonathan de Bie (c), Tariq Hinds, Jamie Reynolds, Oliver Skipp (Jamie Bowden 85), Timothy Eyoma, Brooklyn Lyons-Foster, Pheonix Patterson, Tashan Oakley-Boothe (Dilan Markanday 75), Reo Griffiths (Rodel Richards 55), Paris Maghoma, J’Neil Bennett
Unused subs Kacper Kurylowicz, Maxwell Statham

Referee W Cartmel