Chelsea cruised into the Fifth Round of the FA Youth Cup as they hammered Huddersfield Town 6-1 St Aldershot’s Electrical Services Stadium on Tuesday.
The damage was done in the first half as the Blues racked up four goals in a spell of mesmerising attacking play. Tammy Abraham grabbed a quick brace before Dominic Solanke followed suit and it was the latter who completed the hat-trick, smashing home late in the second half. Kasey Palmer came off the bench to put the icing on the cake with a blockbuster from long range, all of which rendered Jamie Spencer’s first half reply for the Terriers a mere consolation.
Manager Joe Edwards had a fully stocked squad from which to select his team and was therefore able to name ten of the eleven that triumphed at Leeds a month ago. Brad Collins started in goal behind a back four of Ola Aina, Fikayo Tomori, Jake Clarke-Salter and Jay Dasilva, with Aina at right back and Tomori in the middle this time around.
Captain Charlie Colkett was part of a talented midfield that once again included Charly Musonda whilst Jeremie Boga replaced Kyle Scott in the only change from the trip to Elland Road. That left Izzy Brown to join Abraham and Solanke in a potent front three.
Huddersfield, who have been going well in both their Under-21 and Under-18 leagues, had the first chance of the match when Jacob Hanson headed straight at Brad Collins from a corner. Collins claimed it before launching a long pass to Solanke, who tried to beat goalkeeper Ryan from distance but found the Town stopper in position to make the save.
Things then quickly settled into the predicted fayre of Chelsea probing and Huddersfield defending, and the opening goal came with just seven minutes on the clock. Colkett launched a searching ball to the fit post, where Abraham rose highest to loop a header over Ryan and into the far corner.
Further chances came thick and fast. Solanke headed wide when well placed at the near post whilst Ryan saved from Brown and Aina in quick succession. Shots were lined up with regularity from all angles but committed defending from the visitors saw block after block thrown in the way in the name of keeping the score down.
An inevitable second arrived on the half hour mark and it was Abraham again, settling the ball after Huddersfield failed to clear a corner before turning to fire home from close range. It was the 17 year-old’s 21st goal of the season, coming in only his 17th outing.
Two then became three when Abraham turned provider; skinning Brad Carroll out wide before delivering a cross that begged to be converted. Solanke duly obliged, sliding home at the back stick. It was already a case of game over although the Terriers did offer Chelsea some food for thought in quickly reducing the deficit as Spencer closed down a Collins clearance and watched the ball fly into the back of the net.
If they had faced just a two-year turnaround at the interval they might have fancied having a go but instead Chelsea took a 4-1 lead in with them. Boga danced, teases and wriggled his way towards the byline before cutting the ball back to Solanke, and he was able to stuff it past Ryan for his second brace inside a week, having also scored twice at Manchester City for the Under-21s last Thursday.
Huddersfield made a change at half time and one soon after the restart as manager Tony Carss shifted to a 5-3-2 formation in an effort to reinforce the beleaguered back line. It curiously saw defender Hanson move into attack though, and his tenacity and athleticism caused enough of an early panic to see Clarke-Salter booked for hauling him down.
Musonda responded by exploding into a flash of moving blue in amongst red and black shirts but shot wide, but Town were a much more resilient proposition in the second half and might have been closer on the scoresheet had Aina not scrambled clear off the line to prevent Regan Booty from scoring.
That chance had followed a nasty collision involving Colkett and Hanson and both players would see their involvement curtailed by injuries suffered. Kyle Scott replaced Colkett, with Ruben Sammut already on for Clarke-Salter and Palmer then entering the fray in relief of the hard working Brown.
Solanke completed his treble inside the closing quarter of an hour when he reached quickest to a moment of hesitation on the part of Nat Pells and punished him by sending a ferocious left footed strike beyond the despairing Ryan to make it an even 20 for the season, matching his club total for the entirety of 2013-14.
Huddersfield remained involved until the very last and were cruelly denied a second goal when Horsfall struck the crossbar from close range but Chelsea reserved the right to have the last word and they did so in some style. Palmer already had two or three goal of the season contenders to his name but his howitzer from 25 yards out that thundered into the top corner was up there with anything and sent the 301 fans in attendance home a little warmer on a cold Hampshire night.
Chelsea now await the winners of the Swansea City vs Doncaster Rovers tie, hosting them at Aldershot in Round Five in a fixture to be played in the next two to three weeks. On this evidence, the defending champions will take some beating.
Chelsea: Collins, Aina, Tomori, Clarke-Salter (Sammut) , Dasilva. Colkett (c) (Scott), Musonda, Boga, Brown (Palmer), Abraham, Solanke
Subs not Used: Thompson, Suljic
Goals: Abraham 2, Solanke