Chelsea’s strong FA Youth Cup pedigree continued on Wednesday night as they booked a place in the Quarter Finals for the sixth season in a row courtesy of a 6-0 win over Swansea City at Aldershot’s Electrical Services Stadium.
Tammy Abraham led the way with a hat-trick whilst Dominic Solanke wasn’t far behind with a brace of his own, taking the pair to a remarkable combined fifty for the season to date. Substitute Kasey Palmer also got in on the act with his fifth goal in six outings, continuing his own fantastic record, as Chelsea scored five or more in a youth team match for the tenth time this season and the fourth time in their last five.
Don’t forget to check out Dan Davies’ excellent match gallery by clicking HERE.
Coach Joe Edwards made a solitary change from the side that so emphatically brushed Huddersfield Town aside in the previous round, with Kyle Scott replacing Izzy Brown. That meant Brad Collins and his back four of Ola Aina, Fikayo Tomori, Jake Clarke-Salter and Jay Dasilva reprised their roles at the back, whilst Scott added creativity to a midfield already overflowing with it in captain Charlie Colkett and Charly Musonda.
Jeremie Boga moved into a more advanced role on the left of the forward line, with Abraham and Solanke joining him in what is easily the competition’s most potent attack.
Swansea too made a single change from their last tie, when they beat Doncaster Rovers 2-1, with Adnan Maric being drafted into their midfield in place of Jamie Latham. They were however on the back foot early as Chelsea began in a sprightly fashion, knocking the ball about with quickness and with confidence whilst probing for an early opening.
Solanke had the game’s first effort on target when he rose to meet a high, looping cross from Aina, but the duress placed upon him by defender Joe Rodon meant he was unable to get enough purchase on it to beat goalkeeper Lewis Thomas. The young forward soon had another opportunity to beat the Swans’ stopper when latching onto Colkett’s pass but was once more denied, whilst in between Kyle Copp shot over from outside the box at the other end.
Chelsea went ahead inside of a quarter of an hour and the goal came from a very familiar source in both creation and execution. Patient, intricate build-up play around the box ended with Scott slipping a ball in to Abraham, and he did what he’s done all season by turning well and finding the bottom corner with an accurate finish.
The visitors should probably have been on terms immediately from the restart as Stephen Fallon got clear down the right but sliced his shot horribly wide from close enough in that he could have at least tested Collins. Team-mate Daniel James then did with a low effort from the edge of the box before Chelsea continued their attacking approach with a wild shot by Boga when well-placed on the left.
Abraham had the ball in the net again midway through the half when following in a Scott shot saved by Thomas, but he was correctly adjudged to have been offside. That in turn gave way to Swansea enjoying their best spell of the match with a series of dangerous-looking attacks down the left but the Blues defended stoutly, leaving Collins to make just one save to deny James for a second time.
Boga’s involvement in the contest came to an end ten minutes before the break when he suffered an ankle injury from what looked an innocuous challenge. The Frenchman was replaced by the in-form Palmer, scorer of spectacular goals aplenty in the last month.
Colkett then looked to beat Thomas from a free kick spotted some way out and whilst he found the target, he wasn’t able to get enough direction on it to do more than stick it straight into the goalkeeper’s hands. Not to be deterred though, the hosts continued to search for more late in the first half and after Scott sliced wide, they doubled the lead in first half stoppage time.
Scott was once again the creator, linking well with Palmer before once again playing Abraham in. From near enough the same spot as he’d scored earlier in the half, he this time slammed the ball high into the net off via the goalkeeper and the crossbar to make it an even 25 for the season and send Chelsea in 2-0 at the break.
Any suggestions Swansea may have had at half time of resurrecting their Youth Cup hopes were extinguished within 25 seconds of the restart. Solanke was allowed to collect the ball on the penalty spot following Abraham’s pass and he did well to maintain his balance before poking past Thomas to make it 3-0.
They might have had a chance had Jones continued his record of scoring in every round of Swansea’s run so far when breaking in clear on goal, but Collins stood up well and made a save to preserve his clean sheet. He had another chance from a tighter angle on the left three minutes later but once again found the Chelsea number one in an unforgiving mood, and their profligacy was nearly punished yet further when Scott pounced on a loose ball in the box only to be denied a fourth goal by a brave block.
Solanke and Tomori too tried their luck in extending the lead but were unable to find the back of the net; the former shooting straight at the ‘keeper at the end of a fine passing move, and the latter dropping a free kick just wide of the post.
Inevitably 4-0 did arrive with just under twenty minutes left on the clock. Dasilva found space on the left to get into the box and cut the ball back to Abraham, who was waiting unmarked to sidefoot home from two yards out and complete his second hat-trick of the season. He wouldn’t be afforded the chance to add to his impressive haul though as he immediately made way for Mukhtar Ali and took a deserved breather.
That was the one that broke the Swansea resolve and it was 5-0 in double-quick time. With James laying stricken on the turf, Chelsea continued to attack as Ali found Palmer in space. The in-form midfielder shrugged off two attempts to foul him in order for James to get treatment before steadying himself, opening his body up and passing into the bottom corner.
Jones’ personal nightmare continued when he found Collins in his way for the umpteenth time, meaning he was unable to take full advantage of an unfortunate mis-kick from Clarke-Salter, and things hardly got better for the rest of the Swansea team when a sixth was added a minute from time. Musonda’s reverse pass found a still-lively Solanke taking advantage of tired Welsh legs, and he sent a low drive into the bottom corner.
It all means Chelsea face a trip to the North East in the Quarter Finals of the competition, where they will face the winner of the Sunderland vs Newcastle tie. From there a two-legged Semi Final against Nottingham Forest, Tottenham or Manchester United awaits, and on this form you’d not bet against Chelsea being there.
Chelsea: Collins, Aina, Tomori (Suljic 68), Clarke-Salter, Dasilva, Colkett (c), Musonda, Scott, Boga (Palmer 35), Abraham (Ali 73), Solanke
Subs not Used: Thompson, Sammut
Goals: Abraham (3), Solanke (2), Palmer
Swansea: L.Thomas, Lewis, Owens, Maric, Davies (c), Rodon, Fallon (Latham 84), D.Thomas, Jones, Copp (Cullen 60), James
Subs not Used: Sherman, Gilchrist, Dyson