Chelsea’s Under-18s remain very much on course to finish atop the Southern standings this season as they produced another typically rampant performance to beat West Ham United 4-0 at Cobham on Saturday.
Jacob Maddox opened the scoring with little more than a minute played and, although they had to wait until the second half before Miro Muheim, Trevoh Chalobah and Iké Ugbo added to the tally, the young Blues were firmly in charge and were extremely good value for another three points.
Kickoff had been delayed by an hour with the West Ham coach caught in traffic but Maddox wasted little time in making an early impact when things did eventually get underway. He struck after seventy seconds, latching onto Dujon Sterling’s prod forward and wriggling his way into the box before tucking an accomplished finish under the body of goalkeeper Sam Howes.
West Ham were the only team to inflict defeat on Joe Edwards’ side this term, winning 2-0 at Little Heath in September, but they were in for a much tougher challenge on Chelsea’s patch. Rarely able to get out of their own half, they watched as Charlie Wakefield drove over from the edge of the box and regularly had to call on Howes to keep the first half scoreline respectable.
The England Under-18 stopper made a fine acrobatic save to keep out a ferociously struck free kick from Muheim before he showed bravery to get in Ugbo’s way and awareness to get down low at his near post when Muheim hit one that he wouldn’t have seen until late.
Ugbo wasted an even better chance when he latched onto Cole Dasilva’s searching Ross only to get his header all sorts of wrong, but despite going into the half time break just a goal to the good, there was always a sense that Chelsea would ultimately add to Maddox’s early opener.
They did just that shortly before the hour. Mason Mount had been running the show impressively in central midfield and he once again displayed his fabulous range of passing in delivering an inch-perfect ball into the path of Muheim. The Swiss did the rest, opening his body and passing beyond Howes into the far corner.
Two then became three when Mount floated a corner into the middle and found the head of Chalobah, who scored for the third time in an improbably productive campaign in front of goal for the 16 year-old defender. It was no less than the hosts deserved and it could quite easily have been more than 3-0 at that stage too.
Jared Thompson, a relative spectator in the game goal, watched Jahmal Hector-Ingram slam wide into the side netting after good work from the former Chelsea youngster Dan Kemp, returning to Cobham three weeks after moving to the Hammers, but it was a minor deviation from the script of heavy Blues pressure.
It eventually told for a fourth time, Ugbo netting a 12th of the season with the finishing touches to a gift-wrapped cross from Wakefield, and Chelsea go into their final league match of 2015 away to Brighton assured of a comprehensive lead at the top of the standings.
Before that, the Under-19s will round off their UEFA Youth League group stage fixtures against FC Porto on Wednesday in front of the BT Sport cameras, and a week later the defender’s of the FA Youth Cup crown begins at home to Huddersfield Town at Aldershot.
Chelsea: Thompson, Sterling (Nartey), Chalobah, Suljic, C. Dasilva, Sammut (c), Muheim (McCormick), Mount, Ugbo (Hinckson-Mars), Maddox, Wakefield
Subs not Used: Baxter, Taylor-Crossdale
Goals: Maddox, Muheim, Chalobah, Ugbo
West Ham United: Howes (c), Sylvestre (Diallo), Neufville, Lewis, Akinola, Alese, Borg, Powell (Coventry), Hector-Ingram, Scully (Henry), Kemp
Subs not Used: Forde, Diangana
Booked: Neufville, Akinola