Chelsea’s 100% home record in the Under-18 Premier League remains intact following a 2-0 win over Leicester City on Saturday morning.
The Blues, who are unbeaten on their own patch for more than two and a half years, were made to work hard for the victory but a brace of second half goals from Martell Taylor-Crossdale, his ninth and tenth of the season respectively, secured another valuable three points for Jody Morris’ boys.
Following last weekend’s draw at Tottenham, Morris made a number of changes for the visit of the lowly Foxes. Jamie Cumming kept his place in goal but Josh Grant and Richard Nartey came into the back four to join Joseph Colley and Marc Guehi, with Cole Dasilva and Reece James dropping to the bench. Jacob Maddox replaced Conor Gallagher in a diamond midfield anchored by Luke McCormick and flanked by Juan Castillo and Tariq Uwakwe, whilst there was a start for Charlie Brown alongside Taylor-Crossdale in attack.
Leicester came into the match struggling for form but would’ve been buoyed by a two-goal comeback to claim a draw at Southampton last time out, and set out their stall to make life hard for Chelsea here. They rode their luck at times, particularly when Maddox overhit a through ball to the wide open Brown, but for the most part they defended their area effectively.
Maddox had a 25-yarder saved comfortably by Cameron Yates in the visitors’ goal, and further chances came and went for Grant and Taylor-Crossdale as the hosts ramped up the pressure in search of a breakthrough. Guehi, a goalscorer at Tottenham a week ago, almost added to his tally but the first half was to end goalless despite the home dominance, with Leicester unable to impact the game going the other way very much at all.
Chelsea would, as they have had to do for most of the campaign so far, have to remain patient in their approach before finding a way through. They eventually did so shortly before the hour mark when Taylor-Crossdale was in the right place at the right time to prod home a loose ball after Yates had done well to save Castillo’s effort from a good cross by Guehi.
A 1-0 lead was the least they had deserved for their endeavours, and the arrivala from the bench of James and Gallagher would ensure the work rate remained high to protect and build upon it. Both substitutes turned in impressive cameo performances; James in particular was once again very impressive and will be a name to watch with the FA Youth Cup coming up towards the end of the year.
Brown had a second disallowed for offside at the end of a flowing move involving Taylor-Crossdale and Castillo, and there was a momentary worry at the other end when Kairo Edwards-John had a sight of goal, but it was blocked by a blue shirt to leave Cumming – otherwise excellent at claiming crosses and set pieces – without a save of note to make all day.
The points were sealed in style late on when Taylor-Crossdale picked up the ball just inside the Leicester half and drove at his man, beating him for pace before steering an accurate finish beyond Yates and into the far corner to move into double figures for the campaign. Castillo and James forced saves right at the end in an effort to add further gloss to the scoreline, but 2-0 was more than enough to keep Chelsea in the mix at the top of the table and they will now go in search of a first away win this term as they head to Brighton this coming Friday night.
Chelsea: Cumming, Grant (c), Colley (James), Nartey, Guehi, McCormick, Uwakwe (Gallagher), Castillo, Taylor-Crossdale, Maddox, C.Brown (C.Dasilva)
Subs not Used: Thompson, Lamptey
Goals: Taylor-Crossdale (2)
Leicester: Yates, Thandi, Ughelumba, Templeton, Gruno, Heaven, Myring, Chapman (Tee), Webber, Fielding, Edwards-John
Subs not Used: Walsh, Harrison, Taylor, Bollard
Booked: Chapman, Templeton