Chelsea’s rampant Under-18s once again emphasised that they are very much the team to beat in the South league right now after a resounding 7-2 victory at Southampton on Saturday.
The hosts scored the first and last goals of the contest but had little to shout about in between as Chelsea made light work of the wet weather and tore into their hosts with ruthless efficiency. Iké Ugbo led the way with a hat-trick whilst there was a brace for Harvey St Clair and additional efforts from Jacob Maddox and Trevoh Chalobah as the Blues made it eighteen goals in their last three outings.
Things didn’t get off to the best starts however. A sixth-minute corner found Slovenian defender Oskar Cvjeticanin at the near post and his glancing header drifted beyond goalkeeper Nathan Baxter and into the far corner to give Southampton an early 1-0 lead.
It would be some time before they had further reason to celebrate. Chelsea’s response was promising as Mason Mount went close with a shot deflected for a corner, from which Josh Grant hooked wide, and St Clair twice forced Jake Hallett into good saves with low, testing efforts from the edge of the area.
Ugbo found the equaliser with his first of the day, picking up the ball on the right of the box and working a shot across goal to beat Hallett. It didn’t take long for the turnround to be completed either as, following a spell of possession and patient approach play, Maddox turned the screw with a lively dart into space and an accurate low shot into the bottom corner for 2-1.
Any notion of Chelsea resting on their laurels and being satisfied with that approaching half time were blown away in a three-minute spell where the result was put well beyond doubt. Ugbo grabbed his second and the Blues’ third when he rose highest to nod home a cross from the right, and St Clair followed that by making it 4-1 with a fizzer from distance, using the conditions to his advantage as his shot skipped off the wet turf and beat the frustrated Hallett.
Joe Edwards’ youngsters had scored four first-half goals against Norwich ‘s fortnight ago before going on to extend their tally later in the game and the mindset at the interval will doubtless have been to produce the same again.
Chalobah helped them on their way less than ten minutes after the resumption of play with the fifth; his cross from the left byline spinning up and over the goalkeeper and over the line before Ugbo could get a touch of his own on it.
Mukhtar Ali and substitute Isaac Christie-Davies each spurned good opportunities to get in on the act themselves as the one-way traffic continued almost unabated. The only – and brief – respite offered by the Saints came when Harley Willard’s corner struck the foot of the near post but, by and large, they cut a disconsolate bunch.
Ugbo’s hat-trick was sealed when he reacted sharpest to a loose ball following a St Clair shot, drilling home to complete his second treble of the season, and with 25 minutes still to play there was every reason to expect even more from Chelsea.
They had one or two moments not quite go their way and Southampton substitutes Carel Kayembe and Rugare Musendo each added some zeal to the action, but things tapered down slowly before perking back up in the closing moments.
The home team though they had a second consolation when full-back Yann Valery galloped forward before hitting the post, with Joseph Colley in the right place to block Callum Slattery’s follow-up. To make things worse, Chelsea then broke clear with Ugbo releasing St Clair, and he raced away to poke home a seventh.
Ollie Cook’s very late header gave the scoreline a little more red-and-white gloss than it deserved but the Blues now go into a fortnight without a match knowing they are firmly in control of their own fate in the Under-18 standings after another emphatic win.
Southampton: Hallett, Bakary, Valery, O’Connor (Lea), Cook, Cvjeticanin, Willard, Slattery, Olomola (c), Wilkin (Kayembe), Johnson (Musendo)
Subs not Used: Lewis, Langan
Goals: Cvjeticanin, Cook
Chelsea: Baxter, Sterling, Grant (c), Chalobah (Colley), C. Dasilva, Ali, Wakefield (McCormick), Mount, Ugbo, Maddox (Christie-Davies), St Clair
Subs not Used: Thompson, Nartey
Goals: Ugbo (3), Maddox, St Clair (2), Chalobah