Chelsea’s ruthless dominance of the FA Youth Cup continued unabated on Friday night as they went to Manchester United and ran out 5-1 winners in their Fourth Round clash.
The Blues were rarely challenged by a United team struggling for league form and were two to the good by half time as forwards Iké Ugbo and Tammy Abraham continued their prolific campaigns, and although Charlie Scott looked to have made a game for it midway through the second half, further strikes from Mason Mount, Jay Dasilva and Mukhtar Ali put the seal on another resounding victory.
Joe Edwards made three changes from the team that summarily dismissed Huddersfield in Round Three, with the most notable enforced upon him through injury. Captain Jake Clarke-Salter’s back injury saw him miss out with Josh Grant coming in as his deputy, whilst Ruben Sammut and Isaac Christie-Davies made way for Kyle Scott and Ugbo respectively.
The formation once again saw the Blues feature three central defenders and four across the middle of the pitch, but Ugbo joined Abraham in a rare two-man strike force with Mason Mount slotting in behind them as the chief playmaker. United, meanwhile, were stretched for depth as they have been for much of the season and were without the influential Axel Tuanzebe but were able to call upon the considerable talents of Timothy Fosu-Mensah in defence as well as Callum Gribbin and Marcus Rashford in attack.
The first half started with Fikayo Tomori missing with a header from a Chelsea corner and rarely deviated from a script of immense Blues pressure. They handled the questionable surface at the J Davidson Stadium with consummate ease and regularly looked like scoring; Charlie Wakefield coming with inches of doing just that when he benefitted from link-up play between Abraham and Mount only for United goalkeeper Ollie Byrne to intervene with a very smart low save.
Abraham had a pair of chances follow in quick succession but saw the first blocked and the second fizz wide of the near post, but he was involved in the opening goal on nineteen minutes. Jay Dasilva had provided three assists from the left side in the previous round and he was keenly involved here again, delivering a peach of a cross from which Byrne somehow denied Abraham’s powerful header, but Ugbo was on hand to nod home the rebound for his 17th goal of the season.
Abraham – skipper for the evening in Clarke-Salter’s absence – was having a fine first half and continued to battle away at both ends of the pitch and chancing his arm with a free kick won by Scott after more well-constructed Chelsea approach play. The closest the hosts came to worrying Nathan Baxter in the away goal was when Rashford – who had earlier delivered a teasing cross to nobody in particular – tried an ambitious shot from distance, but it bobbled well wide rather embarrassingly for the young forward.
Tomori and Wakefield each had another chance to impact proceedings before Abraham scored a crucial second in first-half stoppage time. Collecting the ball from Mount with his back to goal on the edge of the area, he quickly found a yard of space before unleashing a strike that left Byrne rooted to his spot, helplessly watching it crash in via the post for 2-0.
There was more endeavour from the hosts at the start of the second half but Baxter still remained a virtual spectator as he watched Charlie Scott drag a 25-yarder wide, and positive advances by both Dasilva and Scott quickly had Chelsea back on the front foot again. A cross from Wakefield then looked to find either of his strikers and ended up at the feet of Abraham at the far post, but Byrne did well to crowd him out and force a goal kick.
United reduced the deficit midway through the second half when their midfielder Scott – with Chelsea’s version having just departed – slammed in through a crowd of legs following a poorly-defended corner, but Chelsea were instantly back in the lead by a healthy two-goal margin when Mount dribbled his way into the area, fed Ugbo and received it back via a red-shirted leg, and finished high above Byrne for 3-1.
That, in effect, was that but United mustered up a few late attacks that included a contentious moment when Baxter missed his kick and appeared to have brought down Rashford in the area, but the referee opted against giving a penalty and instead Chelsea almost added a fourth with Abraham firing just wide of the near post.
Moments later, that fourth did arrive when Dasilva scored a beauty with his supposedly weaker right foot; the second such time he’s done that in the past fortnight. Christie-Davies carried the ball forward from midfield and found Ugbo, who held it up before finding the young full-back, and he had the presence of mind and technical prowess to loft a delicate chip over the head of the helpless Byrne and drop it perfectly into the back of the net.
The final ten minutes were an inevitability that came with more Chelsea goals. Ali made it five when he was on hand to tap into an open goal after the hosts made a hash of dealing with Isaac Christie-Davies’ through ball and that put the cherry on the top of a fine team performance, featuring a host of excellent individual performances, and sets up a Fifth Round trip to AFC Wimbledon in February.
Manchester United: Byrne, Warren (Kenyon 83), Reid, Williams (c), Fosu-Mensah, Scott, Dearnley (Boonen 55), Whelan, Rashford, Gribbin (Gomes 84), Kehinde
Subs not Used: Dunne, Moutha-Sebtaoui
Goal: Scott ‘66
Chelsea: Baxter, Grant, Tomori, Chalobah, J.Dasilva, Ali, Wakefield, Scott (Christie-Davies 64), Abraham (c) (Sammut 83), Mount (Maddox 71), Ugbo
Subs not Used: Thompson, Sterling
Goals: Ugbo ’19, Abraham ’45, Mount ’67, Dasilva ’82, Ali ‘86