Chelsea’s Under-18s were involved in another action-packed goal extravaganza on Saturday morning as they came from behind away to Tottenham to record a 4-2 victory.
Luke Amos had given the hosts a first half lead but the Blues responded well later on and although Tammy Abraham missed a penalty he went on to atone for the error by completing a superb hat-trick, with Swiss forward Miro Muheim also contributing in what was a tremendous team effort.
Coach Joe Edwards made just one change from the team that comprehensively routed West Brom at Cobham last weekend and it was to hand a debut to Swedish defender Ali Suljic. The 17 year-old, who recently put pen to paper on his first professional contract, replaced captain Jake Clarke-Salter at the heart of the defence with Jay Dasilva taking the armband in his stead.
Tottenham have been in good form so far this season and looked the more dangerous outfit in the game’s early stages. Captain Joe Pritchard had a good chance to open the scoring inside a minute but Brad Collins got down well to make a save and was then grateful to Josh Grant for intervening to prevent Luke Amos from turning the rebound home.
The hosts continued to enjoy the better of the action as Shayon Harrison gave Suljic something of a tough introduction to academy football and they deservedly took the lead midway through the first half. Harrison got the better of his man and made his way into the box, whereupon Anthony Georgiou struck the post and Amos reacted quickest to turn the ball into an unguarded net.
It provoked something of a response from the visitors and they began to display some of their undoubted qualities. Muheim was played in with the goal gaping only to be denied by a superb tackle by Anton Walkes whilst Dasilva fired a shot towards the near post that Luke Glover did well to beat away. Abraham had perhaps the best chance when contorting his body to head goalwards from a corner but could only loop his effort onto the roof of the net.
Georgiou drew a smart low save from Collins at the other end whilst both teams would hit the woodwork before the half time whistle; Harrison from close range for Spurs and Muheim with a long range thumper for Chelsea both finding the goalpost a particular scourge.
Clarke-Salter replaced Suljic at the break and whilst his arrival didn’t directly impact the team’s fortunes, it was a much better and far more purposeful Chelsea that took to the field. They pressed, pressurised and harangued their opponents with commitment and intelligence and were rewarded for their efforts within five minutes.
Kyle Scott robbed Amos of the ball on the edge of his own box and was inevitably hauled down by the young midfielder inside the area for a clear penalty. The referee showed leniency typical of Under-18 officials in not giving Amos his marching orders for a professional foul and Spurs were given a double let-off when Glover got down well to save Abraham’s spot kick.
It lasted but a moment though as Abraham began to take over the contest. Dasilva delivered a gem of a cross from the left wing and the big front man rose imperiously at the near post to crash a header past Glover to make it 1-1.
Back came Spurs though and although Pritchard dragged wastefully wide when well placed, they went back ahead before the hour mark when Cameron Carter-Vickers stooped to meet Harrison’s inswinging free kick to beat Collins from close range.
Collins then had to deny Georgiou twice and Grant was again well placed to block a rebound – this time from substitute Zenon Styliandes – but somewhere along the way the Chelsea stopper picked up a lower body injury that meant he could no longer carry on.
Jared Thompson replaced him whilst Iké Ugbo also came up from the Under-16 pitch to add more attacking impetus as Charlie Wakefield made way. The young Blues always sensed they could take something from the contest and equalised again with twenty minutes to go when Muheim took a ball from Dasilva, set himself inside the box and picked out the far corner for his second goal in as many matches.
From there it was all Chelsea. They were quicker to every ball, stronger in every tackle and faster in every foot race before taking the lead for the first time all morning. Ruben Sammut, who also signed pro papers this week, spread the play out wide to the right where Grant was in acres of space. The full back stood up a cross for Abraham, who met it on the run with a soaring header that saw the ball beat the best efforts of Glover en route into the net.
3-2 eventually became 4-2 as Abraham well send truly erased the memory of his errant penalty by bursting through a tired Tottenham defence, rounding the beleaguered Glover and banging in his eighth of the season to complete a hat-trick for the game’s clear man of the match. Late in the game whilst suffering the effects of cramp he dropped into central midfield and even there he was in irrepressible form, keeping the ball and ensuring Edwards’ charges secured all three points.
Thompson helped ensure that was the case with some commanding goalkeeping at the death as Chelsea racked up a fourth victory in six games. Some of the players involved will feature on Tuesday as the UEFA Youth League returns with a trip to Lisbon, whilst the youth team as a group return to action next weekend away to Norwich.
Tottenham: Glover, Walkes (Muscatt), Maghoma, Carter-Vickers, Walker-Peters, Amos, Ross (Styliandes), Pritchard (c), Georgiou, Goddard (Azzaoui), Harrison
Sub not Used: Voss
Chelsea: Collins (Thompson), Grant, Tomori, Suljic (Clarke-Salter), Dasilva (c), Sammut, Ali, Scott, Muheim, Wakefield (Ugbo), Abraham
Subs not Used: Bolkiah, Christie-Davies