Under-18s report: West Ham 1 Chelsea 5

Chelsea Under-18s sealed a fourth successive southern title in style as they won at West Ham to record a 15th win in a row and claim the trophy with two games to spare.

Billy Gilmour’s early penalty opened the scoring inside 10 minutes before Charlie Brown bagged a brace and Tino Anjorin slotted into the bottom corner to send us in 4-0 up at the interval. Conor Gallagher impressed again in midfield and extended the lead before our record of one goal conceded in 10 games was dented as Bernardo Rosa buried a free-kick beyond Karlo Ziger.

The victory extends our unbeaten run in all competitions to 23 matches and means we are southern champions with more wins, more clean sheets and more points than last term.

Manager Jody Morris made just one change from last weekend’s 4-0 home victory against Southampton as he switched striker options, replacing Martell Taylor-Crossdale with Brown, the latter having scored seven goals in his last seven appearances.

The back four and goalkeeper remained unchanged as Karlo Ziger kept his place between the posts behind a defence of Tariq Lamptey, Marcel Lavinier, Marc Guehi and Jon Panzo. Tariq Uwakwe, George McEachran and Anjorin provided the forward support for Brown, with Gilmour partnering Gallagher in midfield.

The Hammers made a promising start but failed to create any openings before Morris’s men were awarded a spot-kick with six minutes on the clock. Gallagher’s left-footed delivery was invitingly aimed towards Brown and the striker was clearly pulled to the ground as he attempted to control the high ball. Gilmour stepped up from 12 yards and beat the goalkeeper’s dive with a precise effort into the corner.

It was an advantage that provided a platform for the visitors to build and we soon began to carve out chances at will. Uwakwe’s free-kick missed the target and Anjorin blazed over after combing neatly with Panzo down the left, before Gilmour brought a save from Joe Anang with a free-kick that lacked the necessary power and accuracy.

The Blues didn’t have to wait long to establish a two-goal lead though. Gallagher epitomised our work ethic and spirit, retrieving possession with a crunching tackle in midfield before Anjorin slid in Brown, who let the ball roll across his body before finding the back of the net via the inside of the far post.

Our youngsters had the trophy within their grasp and West Ham, who started the day eight places and 30 points behind the leaders, looked deflated and lost. Uwakwe’s dipping shot quickly after the restart flew narrowly over the bar, while Aji Alese was forced into some solid defending to thwart Brown after a clever back-heel from Uwakwe.

Two further goals in two minutes effectively secured the points before half-time. Brown fired a warning shot moments before but that went unheeded as he netted his 22nd of the campaign with seven minutes of the half remaining. McEachran and the striker battled endlessly for the ball on the edge of the box, earning their luck as the ball popped up kindly for Anjorin. The schoolboy was denied by Anang making a smart save but Brown followed up on the rebound and had the simple task of converting from three yards.

Anjorin was not to be thwarted within 60 seconds as Brown turned provider, delivering from the left at the end of an incisive passing move, and the 16-year-old left the keeper with no chance as he rifled the ball into the bottom corner. There might have been further goals before the referee paused the action as McEachran’s well-hit half-volley was pushed away by Anang and Uwakwe sliced a free-kick wide.

It was a similar story in the second half as Uwakwe worked the home goalkeeper into another good fingertip save before palming away McEachran’s low drive, though the Hammers enjoyed a brighter period and briefly threatened with a shot wide by Rosa.

Gallagher’s eighth goal of the season came just after the hour mark at the end of another enterprising move out wide. The skipper picked up the ball in the box and demonstrated quick feet to jink away from two tackles before finally slotting it in.

The only disappointment of the morning was the loss of a fifth consecutive clean sheet as Rosa pulled a goal back for the hosts with 25 minutes remaining. A free-kick was awarded in contentious circumstances but West Ham were not about to pass up on the opportunity and their Brazilian midfielder found the net with a low strike that squirmed away from Ziger.

Brown was still hunting a hat-trick and went closest after a cross from the right, though Will Greenidge hooked the ball off the line to keep the deficit at four. The hosts struck the woodwork late on with a bending shot from Alese but this was Chelsea’s day. A 17th win from 20 league games caps another hugely impressive season for a side who have already lifted the Under-18 Premier League Cup and are into a record seventh successive FA Youth Cup final.

Following our final two southern fixtures against Tottenham and Arsenal, we will take on Manchester United in the national final after the Reds were also crowned regional winners today.

 

Chelsea (4-2-3-1) Karlo Ziger; Tariq Lamptey (Jack Wakely 64), Marcel Lavinier, Marc Guehi, Jon Panzo; Conor Gallagher (c), Billy Gilmour (Clinton Mola 80); Tariq Uwakwe, George McEachran, Tino Anjorin (Martell Taylor-Crossdale 69); Charlie Brown
Unused subs Jake Askew, Tushaun Walters
Scorers Gilmour (pen) 7; Brown 27, 39; Anjorin 40; Gallagher 62
Booked
Lamptey 23

West Ham Joe Anang, Will Greenidge, Jayden Seurier, Mason Barrett (Kevin Dalipi 63), Aji Alese, Ben Wells, Louie Watson, Kristijan Belic, Odysseas Spyrides (Anouar El Mhassani 77), Jay Mingi, Bernardo Rosa (Sean Adarkwa 77)
Unused subs Daniel Jinadu, Emmanuel Longelo
Scorer Rosa 65
Booked Wells 6