Chelsea’s Under-18s extended their unbeaten league run to a dozen matches – thirteen in all competitions – with a comprehensive 4-2 win over Tottenham Hotspur at Cobham on Saturday.
The Blues have been irresistible at home so far this season and maintained their 100% record on their own patch courtesy of a devastatingly clinical first half display. Iké Ugbo netted a brace to take him up to sixteen goals for the campaign whilst Isaac Christie-Davies ended the game as a contest before the break.
Mason Mount, who turns seventeen tomorrow and celebrated with a professional contract on Friday, added a sublime fourth before the visitors brought Ryan Loft and Marcus Edwards off the bench to grab a pair of late consolation efforts but, by then, Chelsea had long since taken their foot off the gas.
Tottenham had been knocked out of the FA Youth Cup by Middlesbrough in midweek and whilst they started well here, they soon began to exhibit signs of a hangover as a series of individual errors would prove to be their downfall. The first of those was when Kazaiah Sterling failed to capitalise on a clear one on one; Chelsea goalkeeper Nathan Baxter made a superb stop and things went downhill for Spurs from there.
Minutes later, a misplaced backpass allowed Ugbo a clear-cut chance of his own, much like the one he had been gifted in the previous meeting between the two teams at Hotspur Way in October. He went around stopper Tom McDermott only to be tripped for a penalty, and McDermott was fortunate to only be shown a yellow card for his troubles. Ugbo stepped up to beat him from the spot to make it 1-0.
It quickly got worse. Charlie Owens played a loose pass out from the back which was easily picked off by Richard Nartey at right-back, and he wasted no time in feeding Ugbo. A quick jink into shooting space later and the ball was nestling in the bottom corner with his – and Chelsea’s – tally doubled.
Japhet Tanganga headed wide as Kieran McKenna’s side looked to respond but they were largely powerless in the face of considerable Chelsea resistance. Christie-Davies linked well with Ugbo before lashing over but he too wouldn’t have to wait very long before getting in on the act.
Again, it owed much to a mistake in the Tottenham ranks. Christian Maghoma was the one with the careless loss of possession at the back as he handed the ball to the capable feet of Kyle Scott, and he slid a ball in behind for Christie-Davies to finish for 3-0.
Joe Edwards’ side have found themselves out of sight at the break more than a few times in recent months and the challenge has typically been to keep standards high from start to finish. There were few doubts about their mentality at the start of the second half though as Mount soon made it 4-0, applying a placed volley to finish off a lovely team move with Christie-Davies turning provider this time.
Spurs immediately made a triple change to bring Loft, Edwards and Zenon Stylianides into the action, considerably bolstering their ranks with experience and quality. Edwards, meanwhile, took the opportunity to bring Harvey St Clair and Josh Grant on for their comebacks from respective injuries picked up before Christmas.
Spurs, with far more to prove and with the impetus of senior players now involved, looked far more like their usual selves late on and grabbed a pair of goals that doubled the total Chelsea have conceded at Cobham since August.
Baxter made a superb reflex save to keep out a header from Keanan Bennetts but there was nothing he could do to keep out Loft’s ferocious strike shortly afterwards, nor could he react when Edwards drilled a cross straight at Ali Suljic as the Swedish defender scored an unfortunate own goal.
The day still belonged to Chelsea however, and they need just a couple more results to be sure of their place in the top tier of the playoffs as they chase the national title and a place in next season’s UEFA Youth League.
Chelsea: Baxter, Nartey (Grant 70), Suljic, Chalobah, C. Dasilva, Sammut (c), Wakefield (Muheim 57), Scott (St Clair 62), Ugbo, Mount, Christie-Davies
Subs not Used: Thompson, Maddox
Goals: Ugbo ‘9 (pen),’ 21, Christie-Davies ’41, Mount ’53
Tottenham Hotspur: McDermott, Muscatt, Brown, Owens, Tanganga, Maghoma (c) (Stylianides 54), Tracey (Edwards 54), Paul, Sterling (Loft 54), Hayford, Bennetts
Subs not Used: Whiteman, Shashoua
Goals: Loft ’82, Suljic og ’89
Booked: McDermott, Muscatt